one of a million ways to offend a new mommy

Ok, Internet, y’all can tell me if I’m totally crazy here.

I got an email (via Flickr) a few days ago from a journalist who’s writing a story promoting breastfeeding, and she wanted my permission to use this picture of Cate getting a bottle “to provide context.”

Blink. Blink.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t she basically imply that she was going to use the picture of my baby getting a bottle as an example of “here’s how you shouldn’t feed your child”? I know that this is a particularly sensitive issue for me, so maybe I’m overreacting, but that is what she’s more or less saying, right?

This is what I wrote back to her:

Hi [insert journalist’s name],

I appreciate where you’re coming from, but I am one of the thousands (millions?) of mothers who really wanted to breastfeed my baby and was unable to, due to poor milk supply. Perhaps I’m being oversensitive, but every time I read some type of news story that promotes breastfeeding over formula, it still stings a bit and makes me feel like I am somehow failing my child. I know that’s not true, but it gets tiresome because it seems like there is some new “breastfeeding good! bottle-feeding baaaaad!” story being published practically every other day.

So, the way I read your email, you’re asking if you can publish a picture of my daughter as one of those poor, deprived bottle-fed babies with a horrible selfish mother who doesn’t care enough to breastfeed her? Sorry, but no. I don’t want any of my personal photos used for that purpose. I understand that you’re trying to do a good thing – raise social consciousness, whatever – but I’d rather not be involved.


Ok, maybe I was a little rude, but believe me, it took a great deal of self-restraint to make it as polite as it was. I held back a lot.

Also, as for the photo itself, it’s not even that great a picture of Cate – her hair looks greasy, her eyes are half-closed, her diaper is showing – I have hundreds of photos that are a million times more adorable. And I’m not the one feeding her in the picture, it was my mom. Not that you can tell from the way the picture is cropped, but whatever. It just bugs me. If you want to publish a picture of my daughter in the media, it had better be a really cute one. Like this. Or this. Or this. Or… ok, I could go on for days with that.

I’m also irritated because I am so. damn. tired. of getting the stink-eye from other women every time I have to give Cate a bottle in public. I know it goes both ways – I was with a friend of mine when she nursed her baby in a Starbucks, and there were teenage boys pointing and giggling, and hoo boy was I grateful that it was her boobs on display and not mine. It just feels like, man, I have to deal with this issue often enough in real life, and now I have to feel like I’m being judged via email too?

It isn’t really the journalist’s fault. I checked out her Flickr profile – she’s young, pretty and single, and I’m sure that she probably never gave a half-second’s thought to this issue before she had to write about it. But, I do wonder if the other people she contacted about posting pictures of their kids being fed by bottles were as offended as I was.

5 thoughts on “one of a million ways to offend a new mommy

  1. I completely understand you being offended. While I am certain that the clueless journalist didn’t mean to offend you, the way she approached you about such a sensitive subject– I’d have been every bit as ticked off myself.

    Anyone who’s giving you stink-eye for feeding Cate from a bottle seriously needs to get a life. They’re obviously jealous because their baby isn’t NEARLY as cute or happy as yours.

    FWIW, I think that picture of Cate with the bottle is really sweet. It really is a great picture of happy-baby-getting-bottle-and-comfort. The little hand, the lidded eyes, it almost makes me want another baby. Almost.

  2. It bums me out that people still try to get into other people’s affairs. I chose to breast feed and was lucky enough to produce enough milk. If not, I would be doing the same thing as you, bottle feeding. Heck, I may not be able to continue to breast feed once we move, so we may have to wean Miss C around 4 months to a bottle because I don’t think I will be able to pump as easily in my new job. In either case, its no one’s business but my own. I would be pissed too.

  3. Something doesn’t feel quite right about this to me. Since when do legitimate journalists troll flickr for images?

    What kind of magazine is this? Do they not have stringers or a budget for stock art? Even if they are a craptastic local parenting monthly free paper distributed sporadically at the local coffee shop with a circulation of 25 readers, can they not afford a single digital point-and-shoot from Wal-Mart that the reporter can use to photograph some of the bottle-utilizing subjects she interviews for “context?” Or is she not going to conduct interviews that conflict with her pre-determined view of “the benefits of breastfeeding?”

    Good call on this one, Cindy.

    If anyone else gets contacted this way, just… run! run away! This doesn’t pass the smell test.

  4. I don’t know, it’s some online publication, not a real magazine or newspaper. But yeah, I thought the same thing. Don’t they have their own cameras?

  5. I once found one of my youtube videos embedded in an (online only, obvs) NY Times article. I didn’t mind, since it was a public event, but I still thought it was a little weird!

    Did you ever hear back from the reporter?

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