Critic doesn’t object to Time breast feeding cover, but rather to words that accompany it

The Takeaway

This week’s Time magazine cover is making a huge splash.

It’s been among the top three trending searches on Google for the past two days and it’s led to more online subscription sales in a single day on Thursday than the magazine did all of last week combined. The controversial cover image is a mother breastfeeding her three-year-old son.

Mary Elizabeth Williams, a staff writer at and also author of “Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream,” said the cover is so shocking in large part because the breast feeding kid is, well, a kid, and not a baby. But it goes beyond that too, she said.

“We’re still shocked when we see nursing. A woman was kicked out of a store just this week for breastfeeding,” Williams said. “There’s still so much discomfort around it in general, and then you throw on top of it an older child and it becomes very, very squishy for a lot of people.”

Williams said the cover image itself didn’t really bother her, but she was upset by the words that accompanied the image: “Are you mom enough?” She said it perpetuates the notion that women who breastfeed are obsessive.

“When you put breastfeeding in that context, it’s really incendiary. I’m not offended by the picture, I’m offended by the message,” Williams said.

Williams said the image and headline are meant to be provocative. According to her, there was another image that was more nurturing than the confrontational image that Time chose.

“It says ‘If you’re attachment parenting (the subject of the cover story), you’re challenging other mothers,” which I don’t think is true,” Williams said. “There’s a broad spectrum of attachment parenting as well.”

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