Thursday, March 12, 2009

a few words about breasts

{i was too afraid to do a google image search to match the title of this post, so no picture this time. sorry. but i am sure you can use your imaginations.}

i do not spend very much time talking or thinking about breasts. probably because i have my own, so no big deal. and also probably because my own breasts are, frankly, not that big and not that interesting.

but, i've come across a lot of boob news lately, mostly related to breast-feeding, and it's all pretty captivating stuff. so i thought i might pass it along. (if lent caused such a stir, i can only imagine what the breast-feeding debate will do, but here we go.)

up first, salma hayek's breasts, which, depending on who you are, are probably worth talking about no matter what's going on. they got an abnormal amount of press a few weeks ago, though, when, on a trip to sierra leone, salma hayek breast-fed a baby whose mother had no milk. you can watch it here. (no worries, totally g-rated. or, depending on who you are, sorry. totally g-rated.)

the interweb went crazy with, from what i could tell, public opinion over whether she should have done it or not split right about down the middle. i thought the most compelling argument was "why should we care?" i personally thought it was a touching story, but nothing worth getting all riled up about. not like, say, whether chris brown and rhianna should be back together. (answer: they should not.)

but then, just today, i came across a whole stream of articles about breast-feeding on it started with this blog thread, and included a pro argument and a not-so-pro argument.

while i don't look forward to lactation as wistfully as the author of this pro argument, i hadn't ever framed the breast-feeding debate in such stark feminist terms before, and i was honestly a little surprised to discover that some women see it as a shackle of modern housewife-and-motherhood akin to the vacuum cleaner. (there are a lot of good jokes in there about sucking. give it your best shot.) also surprising was the contention that breast-feeding might not do as much good as we would like to think. do with that what you will.

but, breasts aside, the thing i found most interesting of all was the ever-recurring theme that women do themselves the most damage by judging the decisions other women make, or by feeling guilty about their own decisions. whether or not breast-feeding is better, some women are going to do it and some women aren't and choosing sides isn't going to get anyone anywhere. and the same thing goes for all the other debates over how and what it means to be a woman. the ability to make the decisions that are best for us personally without fear of judgement from our peers, would, it seems to me, move everyone toward victory a lot faster.

and the final act in this boob-tastic day involved my well-endowed co-worker and a certain gentleman with a focus problem, giving me the chance to hear for the first time in a real-life context the phrase, "hey, buddy, my face is up here."

so perfect. so cutting. now that's something to be wistful about.


steve said...

Thoughtful post Frances.

Breasts... Huh... so you can actually feed babies with those things? And I thought they were just for objectifying and sexualizing women.

We are a funny species, humans.

Abby said...

This was an intriguing post. I of course am successfully past the 6-month mark for breastfeeding Isaac. I went back to work full-time when he was 6-months old. I have pumped everyday in a disgusting dirty bathroom. Trying to ignore the toilet and awful smell. So, why do I do it? I have read about the debate with breastfeeding. I know that Isaac will receive all the nutrients he needs from formula. It is cheaper for me to just buy formula since I get paid hourly. So why do I worry about making time to pump while at work? About breastfeeding as long as possible? It isn't the positive health benefits or the marketing of La Leache league and others. It is emotional. There is a special bond when I breastfeed Isaac. I can't explain it. I don't feel like I am shackled to the rocker. I find enjoyment in the mundane task. I am not saying people who "bottle feed" can't have a similar bond with their child. I just wanted to state that, for me, it is something I wanted to do. Thanks for posting this Frances. The debate will go on forever. Everyone just needs to respect the decisions and feelings of others. No one is necessarily right or wrong. It is a personal choice.

The elite breastfeeding mom's in that article need to be more open minded and sensitive to other mom's and their choices.

Evan and Holly said...

I have also pasted the 6-month mark for breastfeeding, but it's not Issac, it's Kyle. I made a goal to at least get to 9-months. Mostly because I hate is nice to spend time with him but I wish that it wasn't always me, especially when I am sick or it's two in the morning or I want to leave him with a baby sitter. I also feel none of the bonding that people say happens, I think my hormones are not working in that respects. I do it because it is good for him. I know that breast milk changes the contents of fat, carbohydrates, and sugar through out the day and adjust to his growing needs and such, which formula does not. I thought it awesome that Selma did that and find it appalling anyone would say anything. Who cares what others do? It' here breasts and her milk. That statement i the same for everyone.

Kate said...

I'm going to hit 10 months of breastfeeding next week. And I'm PROUD, but let me be clear: I am not proud because I don't give him formula. I am proud because breastfeeding is damn hard work, and I am no more proud that I breastfeed than I am that I read to him every day. It makes me feel good that I'm doing what I think is best for MY baby, not what I think is best for ALL babies.

I don't always love to do it, especially in the back seat of my car or a dingy dressing room, and I totally agree with Hanna Rosin that a breastfeeding mother by default becomes the alpha parent, the go-to person for comfort and not just nutrition. And I really hate it when Harry is cranky and my husband's first reaction is to give him to me, "I think he's hungry."

Breastfeeding is what works for us, though, on most levels. It's less expensive than formula. I won't say free because I work from home and time is money, but also because the accoutrements of breastfeeding are not cheap: pump, storage, those f-ing nursing bras. But beyond economics, breastfeeding is (relatively) immediately, totally portable, and gives me an excuse to put my feet up every three or four hours.