I’ve got a bit of a problem when it comes to buying celebrity magazines. Wes is always on at me to curtail my spending habit, especially when it comes to handing over my hard earned cash on a gossip mag or 5.
I’ve been the same since I was a teenager. Being someone who has more than a slight interest with celebrity culture, I love nothing more than Tuesday rolling round and me heading out to Sainsbury’s (other major supermarkets available), picking up my weeklies and immersing myself in ‘their world’.
Often, I’ll pick 3 on a Tuesday and then once they’re read, I’ll head back to the shop on a Friday and pick up another 2. It’s been my routine for years and it’s my little bit of escapism from my sometimes otherwise dull life! I love to read what the celebrities have been getting up to, who they’ve fallen out with and what they’re wearing (or perhaps not wearing with the latest batch of Z –listers!).
You see, that’s the thing with celeb magazines. They’re entertainment and they are escapism. It’s a time for me and perhaps other readers to find out what’s occurring with the rich and famous. Sadly, in the world we live in currently, you only have to turn on the news or open a newspaper to see the amount of tragedy taking place the world over. Death and destruction is commonplace and as someone who has always liked to keep abreast of current affairs, I’m beginning to find it hard to bear at times. Thus, I’ve found myself turning to the magazines as opposed to the newspapers recently.
Yesterday was no different with my routine. Once I’d finished work, I headed out to the shop to purchase a few groceries (and a box of Quality Street – for myself) and picked up Reveal magazine.
Full of light-hearted celeb interviews, fashion, beauty and the like, Reveal is a magazine which has become a firm favourite of mine since its conception over a decade ago. It’s cheap and cheerful.
I settled down to have a quick flick through (whilst gorging on the box of Quality Street) but something caught my eye. I rarely ever read the first page, preferring to head straight to the nitty gritty of the celeb news and interviews but on this day I did.
Staring back at me I saw a photograph of British actress Thandie Newton posing for a selfie. In the selfie she was breastfeeding her two year old. Now, that’s not what has got my back up in this scenario. If Ms Newton wants to breastfeed her 2 year old and take a selfie then who the hell am I to judge? However, what left something of a nasty taste in my mouth was the headline that was captioned alongside the photo.
BREAST IS BEST was the chosen headline in big, bold letters.
Three little, some may say, inoffensive words that perhaps embodies the selfie and the blurb that accompanied it.
However, I’m concerned at the impact those three words may have.
As aforementioned, celebrity gossip magazines are just that. They’re magazines salacious in nature, full of sensation and fun. To me, they are not a platform for a showbiz writer to wade into the ever prominent breastfeeding debate.
Allow me to set a scene.
Imagine you have a new Mum. She’s a fortnight into parenting and she’s had a REALLY tough time. Perhaps she had a traumatic birth which has had a profound effect on her. She’s tried her hardest to breastfeed her new-born but isn’t enjoying the experience. Heck, it’s left her drained, both emotionally and mentally. She’s exhausted. She’s in a world of pain and can’t bear to continue. She’s felt an element of pressure from community midwives to continue breastfeeding but she can’t do it anymore. She’s decided to give up. It’s affecting her wellbeing and she’s worried about the pain etc. having an effect on the bonding process.
Whilst the baby is asleep she glances over at a small stack of magazines a visitor had left her a few days previous and reaches out for Reveal magazine The pile doesn’t contain any parenting or housekeeping magazines, they’re purely publications of a celebrity nature.
The new Mum is looking for a few moments of me time, something she’s had nothing of since giving birth mere weeks before. Upon opening Reveal magazine the first thing that catches her attention are the words Breast Is Best.
Immediately in that moment she may experience a whole raft of emotions. Perhaps guilt may be one of them. Resigning herself to the fact that breastfeeding isn’t working and she no longer wants to continue wasn’t easy and she’s been doing all she can to come to terms with her decision. Throughout her pregnancy she had the expectation she would breastfeed, it might not be easy but it wouldn’t be as hard as it had been.
Of course, the set of circumstances I’ve just outlined are fiction. Although loosely based on my situation almost 3 years ago, this is a scene I’m trying to set. The pertinent point I’m intending to make is how disappointed and quite frankly; angry I am that a magazine of its genre like Reveal have published this magazine without a thought of the potential consequences.
I’m sure many women looked at the magazine I have this week and haven’t given it a second thought. But I did.
As I’ve previously written, we know breast is best, it’s rammed down our throats often enough. But while it may be best, it often isn’t as easy as that.
In my opinion, celebrity magazines are there to report celebrity news. They’re there for the gossip, they’re not there to tell us what is best for us and our babies. We have studies for that, we have the experts and we have endless parenting literature available. A weekly magazine that features stories of Michelle Keegan’s purported ailing marriage or ‘Cheryl’s Revenge’ is not the platform to be informing women that breast is best.
You may think they’re just words and that I’m reading too much into it. And perhaps I am. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the point the magazine are trying to make with the viewpoint they’ve taken with regards to Thandie’s insistence to breastfeed her son in public. However, I know what it’s like in that moment you decide to no longer breastfeed because it’s too painful/it’s not working or it’s just too damn hard and I would hate for any woman to be made to feel guilty about their decision just because a celebrity magazine declares that Breast Is Best with their chosen headline.
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