Top Health Stories of 2012: Time Magazine’s Controversial Breastfeeding Cover

The Dr. Oz Show medical staff chose the top most innovative, interesting and influential health headlines of 2012. Each day until the new year, we’ll round up and revisit the major headlines that had a profound effect on science, medicine and your health over the last 12 months.

Headline #12: Are You Mom Enough?

Photo courtesy of Time magazine

Los Angeles mom Jamie Lynne Grumet was pictured on Time magazine’s May 21 cover breastfeeding her then almost 4-year-old son. The cover and story sparked an overnight national debate.

Some thought it was too risqué. Some wondered if this controversial story (and cover) should have made it to newsstands at all, arguing that Time ran the article and photo as a way to sell more issues by “whipping up the mommy wars.” Others thought it brought “alternative” methods of parenting to the nation’s attention and started a dialogue about the role of the mother (and father) in the child’s upbringing.

All over the country, talk-show hosts, parents, pediatricians and various parenting experts expressed their views, calling the cover “fascinating,” “ridiculous,”  “hypersexualized hyperbole,” “brave” and “exploitative and extreme.”

The article “The Man Who Remade Motherhood” by Kate Pickert discusses Dr. Bill Sears’ The Baby Book, originally published in 1993, a 767-page advocate of attachment parenting, a growing concept that celebrates a mother’s (or father’s) constant attachment to the child with extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping. This parenting model makes it harder for mothers to raise children while maintaining a career or social life. On The View, Barbara Walters mentioned to Dr. Sears that his book was  “a guilt trip on working women.” However, many mothers on the other side of the “mommy-fight” praise Dr. Sears for encouraging a close, deep mother-child relationship.

Whether this “mommy-war” exists or not, the cover photo did its job of drawing the public’s attention to the different types of parenting that have evolved in accordance with or in reaction to the modern feminist movements.

Read More of 2012’s Top Health Stories: