• Tue, Apr 22 - 10:15 am ET

Hip Mama Cover Banned Because Breasts Being Used For Breastfeeding Are Just So Scandalous

Hip Mama Cover BannedI absolutely adore Ariel Gore, the publisher of Hip Mama magazine, and her books helped me through my pregnancies and she was the first parenting writer I ever really related to. Hip Mama is awesome and the latest issue hits newsstands next month, but not with the cover image Ariel wanted for it, because newsstands refuse to carry it due to the fact it featuresΒ Barcelona-basedΒ artistΒ Ana Alvarez-Errecalde breastfeeding her four-year-old son. Because breasts and using them to feed children is basically the mostΒ scandalousΒ thing ever, Facebook banned the image too. TheΒ latestΒ issue is all about motherhood andΒ creativity, and Ariel spoke to The Stir about the cover image getting the ban hammer:Β 

It’s an amazing issue on motherhood and creativity and I just wanted people to know about it.Β Of course I think the cover photo is gorgeous, too, so I wanted to show that off. It honestly didn’t occur to me that it would be a problem for anyone,” she explained. β€œI know what Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus look like naked — and I know they’re adult women with every right to represent themselves as they please — but IΒ thinkΒ of them as children and it bugs me a little to see them naked, but I mind my own business. It doesn’t bug me at all to see another mother breastfeeding her child in a self-directed image that isn’t exploiting anyone. It didn’t occur to me that anyone would raise an eyebrow. I figured that if anyone didn’t like breasts, they would, as I do when I see images I don’t care for, mind their own business.”

Now the new cover has a nice little censor sticker over the breastfeeding image so all of the pearl-clutchers can not be so scandalized by it. I love the image of Ana and I think it’s gorgeous. The whole idea of people getting so outraged over breastfeeding is just so absurd to me, especially considering the fact we see boobs all day everyday Β - usually not used for breastfeeding, but for selling bras and just doing their sexy breast work which is being sexy. Not only are breasts sexy, Β they also serve a a purpose – but as soon as we see them serving this purpose they are suddenly deemed obscene. This whole thing is just totally eye-rolly but I am super stoked to read the latest issue of Hip Mama. I think Ariel should sell uncensored prints of the cover because it’s a gorgeous picture of a mom using her breasts to do what breasts were created to do. Which is just not sit around and collect cracker crumbs and be used for sexy times.

(Image: twitter)

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  • Kendra

    I’m kinda 50/50 on this. I totally support breastfeeding and nursing in public. I don’t care how many months or years you do it, or whether you do it at all. That said, I could see how this particular image could be more “offensive” to some, then say, the Time cover from a couple years back. I think it’s a really cute idea for a picture, but I think it probably would’ve gone over better if mom was wearing a shirt. In truth, I think it sucks that society is so sensitive to boobies. But, everyone knows that society gets up in arms about boobs so surely she couldn’t be TOO surprised that this photo wasn’t so well received.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Just out of curiosity, why do you think this is more offensive to some than the Time cover? (That’s right, I want an excuse to discuss BOOBS)

    • Kendra

      I think honestly it’s because she is topless, and because the little boy is grabbing her other boob. On the Time cover, mom had on a shirt and most of the boobage was covered up. (As a side note, I do not find this picture offensive myself, but I’m trying to think like our current boxed-in society does.)

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      see, I just thought he was grabbing her more to get a grip hahaha

    • Kendra

      I’m not sure how that photo shoot went. Obviously they would need the other nipple covered, so I’m wondering, did they ask him to grab it? Or did he just do that naturally? His positioning is pretty uncomfortable looking, so perhaps he just needed a little handle?

    • SunnyD847

      Her nipple is actually pretty exposed. Maybe that’s the problem? This photo is so obviously not sexual in nature, I can’t understand being offended.

    • Mystik Spiral

      The nipple thing will never cease to baffle me. Men have nipples too!!!

    • noodlestein

      No kidding! How did THAT become the demarcation line for “obscenity?” I mean, seems a little arbitrary to me.

    • shel

      I guess that’s the line between excessive cleavage and ‘nudity’ ? If just most of your breast is showing it’s okay, but nipple means your naked!

    • brebay

      Yeah, but we wouldn’t pay to see them…

    • https://twitter.com/#!/AnotherAnnie Elizabeth

      Little-known fact: twiddling the other nipple makes the milk flow faster. My kids used to do it too and it drove me CRAZY. I felt like a faucet.

    • Airbones

      THE WORST.

    • WriterLady

      I’m guessing that more people took offense to the child’s age/size than the fact that she was breastfeeding sans a cover-up. Even if the argument is centered on nudity, a large percentage of Americans would have a negative visceral reaction to seeing a much older child being breastfed on the cover of a magazine. I know there are still some people who are squeamish about breastfeeding in general, but to those I say, “get over it.” And I do think the tide is shifting toward normalization of public breastfeeding for very young children. I never breastfed but I couldn’t care less if I see a mother feeding her child in public; in fact, I believe it is healthy. After all, a baby or young toddler needs to eat–just like the rest of us! As with the Time cover, however, there was a major reaction to the child’s age (another four-year-old), which I would imagine plays into some of the negative responses to the Hip Mama cover. Personally, I think it’s a little odd to breastfeed over the age of 2 or 3, but to each her own. The kid is not old enough (obviously) to consent to this photo, and years down the road it could create embarrassment, as the child is close to half the mother’s size–at least in height. I’m not offended by the cover, though. Nudity of just about any form doesn’t offend me, much less a breastfeeding picture.

    • Kendra

      I agree with what you’re saying about the reaction to the child’s age, but my point was that the Time photo was allowed on the cover, whereas this one was banned. Which I think is simply because she is topless.

    • WriterLady

      You’re probably right, although Time caught a lot of flak for that particular cover, so I would imagine that newsstands would be weary to post another. I think it’s silly to get worked up over pictures of breastfeeding mothers, but we will always have the morality police. Nevermind that most of the starlets are half nude on magazine covers. As for the age issue, I don’t see that as being a legitimate reason for banning the photo. Playing devil’s advocate, though, I recall reading a number of responses that likened it to child abuse because he was no longer a toddler. That’s outrageous, and, for the record, I do NOT agree with that mentality at all. Both covers are provocative in that they lead to discussion about the issue, but I don’t see that being a bad thing, necessarily.

    • rrlo

      As I recall, the TIME cover was more controversial because of the way they juxtaposed the “Mom Enough?” title with the picture.
      They are both provocative photos to be sure, but censoring it seems so pointless.

    • WriterLady

      I am in agreement with the censoring issue. I also recall people being upset with the “Mom Enough” propaganda, but I read lots and lots of comments that were focused solely on the child’s age. People were not only astonished, but in some cases, they were making the case that this was a form of child abuse or promoted child pornography or what-have-you. These are not my personal beliefs at all, but I followed that article and cover closely for weeks afterward, and the image itself stirred controversy for a number of reasons.

    • shel

      I think the TIME cover kid was actually only 3, maybe 3.5? Not that it makes that much different… but he certainaly looked older, which I think made people even more uncomfortable.
      My main problem was the “mom enough” thing when it came to that cover.

    • WriterLady

      You’re right. My bad! I just looked it up, and another woman featured in the article is shown breastfeeding both her 4-year-old son (almost 5) and infant daughter. Jamie’s son (the woman on the cover) was 3 at the time and about to turn 4 in a couple weeks.

      The content of the article was definitely smug, and I didn’t like the way it pitted women against each other. As if we needed national attention on another Mommy Wars issue, right? But, yeah, many just couldn’t get past the cover. Time was smart in using it, though, because sometimes shock value increases sales…which it sure did in this case.

  • Katja Yount

    I’ll be honest. I just get squicked out when I see a kid that size still breast feeding. Otherwise it’s a pretty badass photo.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I just truly don;t care. Moms can breastfeed their kids until they are 16 or their pet sharks for all I care.

    • Valerie

      My nips just went concave thinking about a shark chomping on them. I don’t know that they will ever emerge again. THANKS EVE-BAMA!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter
    • Valerie

      OMG is this footage from the commercials for those Cami Secrets??

    • brebay

      I always wonder who this guy is supposed to be. Hubs? Daddy? Boss? Christian rapper?

    • Valerie

      I don’t know but he looks very disappointed in this slutbag and her slutty slutty shirt!

    • brebay

      Oddly disappointed. If they’re in a relationship, it isn’t a healthy one!

    • Victoria

      I hate those things. Maybe because a family “friend” who has gone off the fundamentalist deep end reached down my shirt to pin one to my bra before I could realize what was happening. I think the worst part is that you couldn’t even see any cleavage.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      Pic?

    • Valerie

      Ok…but this stays between us….and all other M’ish readers.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      So this is how you go-reel-a husband in?

    • Valerie

      Yup. Just squeeze your boobs together and make the duck face. #workslikeacharm

    • Paul White

      I 100% promise you could only breastfeed a shark ONCE. And it might be a very literal breast-feeding….

    • janey

      I knew I liked you, but your pet shark advocacy makes me like you even more.

    • Valerie

      I get squicked out by rapists and child molesters. I am not squicked out by what is clearly a loving mother doing something totally legal that brings happiness and comfort to her kiddo.

    • Katja Yount

      To get squicked out is to be merely made uncomfortable. Are you saying that child molesters and rapists just squick you out because I get downright horrified by those people.

    • Valerie

      I am squicked out by anything that goes against nature…and BFing a child does not. And yes, thank you, I am def horrified by that- I am able to apply more than one adjective or feeling towards something, right?

    • itpainsme2say

      That was a very calm and courteous answer to someone who was being a bit of a dick. Go Valerie!

    • brebay

      I get a little creeped out by it, but that’s tough on me. I absolutely think it should be on newsstands and facebook and anywhere else she wants it. This is what gets me about people losing their shit over public breastfeeding. I see this, I get a little “squicked” out and I think; “Hmm, I wonder why I’m like that?” Probably a combination of life experiences, the society we were raised in and our own childhoods. So it really incenses me when someone else sees it, has the same gut reaction as me, but reasons “You should stop putting that anywhere my eyes could possibly come across it.” That’s the distinction for me. I’m not hella cool with breastfeeding but I am totally cool with realizing that my discomfort over your exercise of your legal and natural rights is entirely about me, and not at all about what you’re doing, so it’s my responsibility to deal with it, not yours.

    • Oz

      I get squicked out too. I don’t give a crap about this attention-grabbing photo – it’s on the same level as the Time cover saying “I’m doing it better than you. In a mask.” So played out it’s boring; this one just raises the bar because he’s holding her other breast. But I do personally draw the line at a child older than 2.5, maybe 3 at the most still being breastfed. I’ll probably get flamed, but I really don’t like it. It’s infantising a kid who outgrew the need for breastmilk long ago. A school-age kid with a pacifier is just as weird, but it’s the mother’s enabling/encouraging of this babyish behaviour that brings the ick. This kid’s school bully, if not the rest of his classmates, will probably agree with me.

      I’m possibly more biased because a few years ago I was travelling through some ‘rough’ country towns and saw a woman breastfeeding her 7 or 8-year-old in a park, with both tits hanging out. It would have been gross even if the child hadn’t been rubbing his crotch against her leg, which he was. Ugh.

  • Valerie

    While this is not really my cup of tea (nursing topless in the desert with a Spiderman mask on…) I am not offended by it in the least nor do I think it should be banned anywhere. As a mother, I am far more focused on my kids being exposed to images of violence or racism. I am not afraid of boobs.

    • JJ

      Excuse me I breastfeed my children all the time with my favourite spiderman mask on, okay. The kids love it although they do get a bit confused when they see cardboard cut outs at the movie theatre of Spiderman and can’t suck on his tits like they do mommy’s.

  • Butt Trophy Recipient
    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      Although, you can see more with the Hip Mama cover

    • keetakat

      These, I get. They make sense.

  • AP

    In some regions, this would under the law be considered child pornography and sex abuse. That’s probably why it was censored.

    • WriterLady

      This is what I was getting at in my response to you below. I think people are shocked by the age; couple that with the more obvious “nudity,” and you will have those who are outraged. The comments about the Time article brought out these very sentiments. Some people even thought the mother should have charges pressed against her! Crazy, even if one happens to think there is an appropriate age cutoff.

    • rrlo

      It’s really strange how people read into sexual abuse. I can’t think of a scenario where there is ambiguous sexual abuse. It is either abuse – where there is intent and some sexual gratification and exploitation or not. There could totally be sexual abuse without anyone taking any clothes off – yet there are still plenty of societies where nudity is the norm.

    • WriterLady

      I really do agree with what you’re saying. I’m only relaying the multitude of comments that I read. Many people shared the article and cover on FB, and the vast majority were horrified by the kid’s age to the point that they thought it was either obscene or outright dangerous. All of which, of course, is ludicrous. The one and only problem I saw with the Time image is that I felt like it was unfair to the child to have his face plastered on a major magazine cover in that manner. Who knows if a classmate will pull that up in 6 or 7 years and tease him relentlessly (since he was not only nearly 5 at the time of the photo shoot, but looked a few years older)? But to suggest child abuse? No way. Unfortunately, that’s a prevailing attitude in certain areas of the country. (I’m from the Midwest, where women almost never breastfeed infants in public, let alone older preschool-aged children.)

      Edit: When I say that it was unfair to the child, I believe it’s because he was almost in kindergarten. A kid would likely not care of a picture of his mom breastfeeding him at 1 or 2 existed in the public realm.

    • rrlo

      Oh I realize that you agree. I was just commenting on how odd I find all this speculation into child abuse over breastfeeding.

      I guess the child on the TIME cover will probably go to some rich, hippie school where breastfeeding until four/five is the norm.

    • keelhaulrose

      I don’t give a rats ass if someone does extended breastfeeding, more power to them, but I agree that’s not a popular opinion, especially among teenage boys, and there’s a good chance that cover is going to come back to haunt that boy.
      My biggest problem with the Time cover was the implication that if you don’t do extended breastfeeding you’re not ‘mom enough’.

    • WriterLady

      Agreed. :)

    • rrlo

      Some people think changing clothes in front of a four year old is child abuse or taking baths with your child is abuse. People read into potential sexual abuse a little too much. And I for one have no desire to pander to these people – considering the actual number of abuse cases happening for real.

    • Airbones

      Really? Which regions?

  • keetakat

    The cover is fucking with my head. It’s all spider-man-pussy-riot meets martial-arts-desert-woman…. and then there’s the nursing child. I … I just… what?

  • Airbones

    It disturbs me only because he’s “twiddling” her other nipple and I HATE when my daughter does that. Worst feeling.

  • Sarah

    I stopped nursing at 10 months but if I was this woman, this photo would be blown up on the biggest fucking canvas in the world, hanging in my foyer.

  • Rachel Sea

    I’m totally fine with the topless breastfeeding, but the Spiderman mask is creepy.

    • Fondue

      At first glance I thought it was a feature on luche libre wrestlers who breastfeed. Then I realized it was a Spiderman mask and thought, “That’s just dumb.”

    • EmmaFromΓ‰ire

      I can even deal with the spiderman mansk, it’s the fact that the kid is playing with her other nipple that squicks me out

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  • Diana

    Why is patriarchy obsessed with shoving boobs in our faces when they’re displayed in painful or artificial ways but so horrified by boobs when they’re doing normal boob things?

    • Payton Blake

      I could get your argument about artificial, but as far as painful, breastfeeding can be pretty damn painful too.

  • EmmaFromΓ‰ire

    It’s not that I’m offended by the photo, but the mask is kinda weird, and the fact that the kid is playing with her other nipple kinda gives me the heebie jeebies.

  • AugustW

    I’m not scandalized, I’m just bored. I get it. You have tits. You breastfeed. Good on you. Can you stop talking about it for five fucking minutes already?

  • VA Teacher

    I think it’s the second nipple being exposed that tips this cover into “obscene” (by media standards). The Time magazine cover has the other breast covered. Even magazines that sexualize breasts cannot show nipples on the cover. I’ll bet that if they’d just made sure the kid was completely covering the nipple (or had the mom cover it) that they wouldn’t have received nearly as much flak.
    It’s really not a “natural use” vs “sexual use” issue. Exposed nipples by women aren’t kosher by current American “decency” standards.

  • Karen

    Beyond all the magazine cover censorship…I would find it utterly (udderly! ha!) exhausting to breastfeed a kid for four years. I went eight months, was sad for about a week that we were done – I missed that connection, and now I’m all “Man, if I have another kid, I’ll have to breastfeed it and oy.” Breastfeeding, especially combined with pumping at work, is just tiring and all-consuming the first few months. I’m all down for it because its the healthiest option for the kiddo and also I’m frugal, but I think that combined with having to be pregnant again is making me question my desire for another child.

    So doing it for four years? No, not for me. I think studies have shown that the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding become nil around two years or so. After that it becomes a bonding benefit. So if I had a second kid that was interested in maintaining a longer breastfeeding relationship, they’d be cut off at 2 years at the latest.

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  • Melissa
  • Payton Blake

    Breastfeeding a four year old? Really?

  • Payton Blake

    Breastfeeding a four year old? Really?