The Cutline

Time breastfeeding cover sparks controversy

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The May 21, 2012, cover of Time (Time)

This week's Time magazine cover features Jamie Lynne Grumet, a 26-year-old woman breastfeeding her three-year-old son. Grumet was one of four mothers photographed by Time for a cover story on "attachment parenting," an approach--outlined by 1992's "The Baby Book" by Dr. Bill Sears--that recommends extended breast-feeding, co-sleeping and "baby wearing." Time's cover line for the May 21 issue asks, "Are You Mom Enough?"

The provocative cover, published online Thursday, was met with the predictable Twitter jaw-drop.

"Love the Time cover," AllThingsD.com's Peter Kafka wrote. "In the cringiest way possible."

"Anybody else slightly slack-jawed over this week's Time cover?" The Atlantic Wire's Adam Clark Estes asked rhetorically.

"Breastfeeding your 3-year-old is one thing," the Daily News' Bill Hammond wrote. "But putting a picture of him doing it on the cover of Time?"

"The kid on the cover of this week's Time magazine is really going to hate middle school," Gavin Purcell observed.

"Heads up, parents!" John Cannon warned. "If you're planning to take your kids grocery shopping, you will have to explain this Time mag cover."

"I would be way more impressed with Time if they put a mom on the cover in the typical age bracket of 'attachment parenting,'" Salon's Irin Carmon tweeted. "Not a 26-year-old."

Time managing editor Rick Stengel defended the decision for the cover.

"We used an image that represents the attachment of a mother and child," Stengel said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." MSNBC showed the cover but blurred the breast out during the broadcast. ABC's "The View" covered it up, too.

"I don't wince when I look at the picture," he continued. "I think it's provocative. I think it's a little whimsical. I think she represents an outlier of women who are breastfeeding beyond one year. The cover is meant to get your attention. It gets your attention. I think this is a legitimate debate. It's a debate lots and lots of women are having."

It's not the first time Time has put a breastfeeding mom on its cover. In 1999, the magazine's cover featured a woman breastfeeding her baby for a special report on the war in Kosovo. And Time has featured breasts on its cover before for stories related to breast cancer.

It's worth noting that the international cover of Time's May 21 issue does not feature a breastfeeding image--it's new French president Francois Hollande.

Nonetheless, it's likely going to get Time magazine censored at some newsstands. New York's Hudson News has a history of covering up magazines in its window display that put scantily clad women on their covers. In 2006, the Grand Central Terminal newsstand put sheets of paper over three consecutive issues of FHM.

Later that year, Hudson News censored an issue of Marie Claire featuring a topless Ashley Judd.

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