9 Questions About TIME’s Controversial Breastfeeding Cover

What are we supposed to take away from the magazine’s ‘Are You Mom Enough’ assault?
Motherhood: No one's doing it right. Now argue, mommies! (Photo: Courtesy of TIME magazine)
May 10, 2012· 1 MIN READ
Nichol Nelson hails from Minnesota, but has worked in food journalism in New York and Los Angeles for more than a decade. She served as an editor with Gourmet magazine for six years, and has contributed to several other digital and print food publications.

If you haven’t seen it yet, this week’s controversial Time magazine cover features a proud mother breastfeeding a three-year-old boy, with a bold red “Are You Mom Enough?” headline below the image. The boy, who looks old enough to ride a bike without training wheels, is looking straight at the camera with a breast in his mouth, as if daring you to judge.

Yeah, we’ve got questions.

1. Is there any mother on the planet who’s going to read, “Are You Mom Enough?” and pat herself on the back for a job well-done?

2. What does it even mean to be mom enough?

3. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, with continuation of breastfeeding for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant. Is showing a child way outside of that age range responsible?

4. Though almost 75 percent of women attempt to breastfeed their babies, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stats say that only 13.6 percent of U.S. babies born in 2006 were exclusively breastfed through six months of age. Is inciting an “ew” response supporting moms who are trying?

5. Have you ever seen a woman breastfeed standing up? (Let’s just not talk about that chair.)

6. “Lactivists” have been fighting public discrimination for years—people simply aren’t comfortable seeing women feed their kids in public. Is this cover…helping?

7. Is this a deliberate effort to pit “moms who care” (i.e. attachment-style parents) against those who choose a more laid-back, traditional parental role?

8. What percentage of mothers actually breastfeed this long? (Research suggests “extended nursing” past the age of three is extremely rare in the U.S.)

9. Finally, why are we so darn interested in what women do with their breasts?

Happy Mother’s Day, American moms! According to Time, you should spend the day questioning whether you measure up. Enjoy your flowers.