Do you remember Time magazine’s recent “Are You Mom Enough?” breastfeeding cover?
The widely debated image features a mom nursing her son who looks old enough to pour himself a glass of milk.
Depending on how you see things, the widely debated image either blazed trails for breastfeeding moms who practice extended nursing, or put unneeded pressure on moms to nurse well past the recommended one-year mark. And the feature story inside either helped put attachment parenting on the map or it made parents who carry their babies in slings and let their kids sleep in their beds look ridiculous.
No matter, the cover and feature story that newsmakers talked about on radio and TV shows across the country have inspired a reality TV show, expected to air this fall “with at least one mother who participated in the Time story,” according to the Daily Mail (a British news site that’s sensationalized yet seems appropriate in this story.)
Appalling? Yes (at least in my book).
The show that will focus on extreme parenting is being developed by Jeff Collins, a producer who has worked on shows and one-time specials ranging from The Pregnant Man to Bridezillas to Dance Moms. In other words, this new show will likely spotlight the most unusual situations and portray yet another unrealistic picture of Americans.
“That cover proves what I’ve been saying for the last year – America has become a country of extremes,” Jeff Collins, president of Collins Avenue Productions, told Yahoo! Shine. “I think it’s so fascinating that some Americans find the image of a woman breastfeeding to be provocative, shocking, even sexual when, in fact, it’s the most natural thing in the world.’
Collins is right. Breastfeeding is entirely natural, even beautiful, and Americans need to be less prudish and let women do their thing, but the the Time magazine cover wasn’t only enticing because it showed an almost-4-year-old nursing. A lot of the controversy revolved around the fact that the image didn’t present breastfeeding in a natural light. Time showed a woman breastfeeding her son in an awkward position. What’s more, they showed a gorgeous, skinny woman who was made to look like she’s about to step on the set of Desperate Housewives—while the average mom nurses in her PJs.
But that’s all beside the main point. This post is about the new Extreme Parenting reality show that promises to reveal the most kooky, bizarre and extreme parenting rituals known to moms. What specifically this includes isn’t clear, but Collins told Yahoo that the show will be about much more than attachment parenting and moms who nurse sharp-teethed toddlers.
The fact that extended breastfeeding would even be considered to fit into the “kooky” category makes me mad. Women all over the world nurse their kids for 2, 3 and 4 years. No big deal. Nursing is the best way to nourish kids and breast milk is the cheapest and healthiest food source. I fear that this show is going to make moms who nurse 3 year olds look outlandish.
Getting back to Collins’ point that breastfeeding is natural. If he finds nursing so natural then I hope that he will depict it in a natural, hey even inspirational, way. Or will the show only highlight the most shocking situations in order to attract viewers?
I can already picture the scene with some frazzled, stressed-out mom whose 4 year old throws a tantrum at the shopping mall because he wants to nurse. The mom ends up finding a janitorial closet where she’s forced to nurse because she doesn’t want anyone to know that she’s still breastfeeding. A mom at her lowest point of the day. This isn’t what moms needs to see. We need to see parents at their best—that same mom sitting peacefully, cuddled up on a couch with her child. Other moms need good role models and the world needs to realize that there are good parents in America—but something tells me that doesn’t make good TV.