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.”
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.