Diamonds are a girl’s breast friend

Last night, I came across some web chatter regarding a new jewelery commercial that some women found offensive. I assumed the ad in question was that insufferable spot where the woman gets scared by a little thunder and jumps into her man’s arms, whereupon he assures her, “I’m here…I’ll always be here,” and hands her something sparkly.

Gag.

But no. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only person who finds this sexist and dated commercial so despicable. The controversy is actually over a Zales ad that has a bunch of people saying “I love you” in different scenarios. One of the vignettes shows a dad bottle-feeding a baby as he tells his wife he loves her. Apparently, this is anti-breastfeeding…”I was outraged within seconds when it showed a mom leaning over an empty crib while dad bottle fed a baby in the background,” said blogger BirthActivist. “I mean come on, wouldn’t it be better to give mom a diamond for breastfeeding?  Or even as a push present?  But this was just sad.  If you’re as outraged as I am, you can write them online or call them…”

While she certainly has a right to dislike the commercial, I am utterly confused at why she would be “outraged”, or how this imagery is at all anti-breastfeeding. First of all…we don’t know what’s in the bottle. It could easily be pumped milk. Maybe the mom pumps once a day so that the father can take one feeding, you know?  I take a completely different message from the ad. I think it just shows a lovely moment, where the dad is bonding with his new baby, and wants to tell his wife how much he loves her for bringing this precious gift into his life. According to many breastfeeding advocates, feeding your child is an act of bonding- so without the ability to bottle feed, fathers are robbed of this amazing opportunity. I was adamant about nursing before my son was born, but I was equally sure that I wanted to pump occasionally so that my husband could take part in the feedings. My dad once told me that his favorite part of fatherhood was those midnight feedings (I was a formula fed baby); that stuck with me. As strongly as I wanted to breastfeed, the image of a dad feeding a newborn was an evocative one for me; I don’t think this is a bad thing. Exclusive breastfeeding has many, many benefits, but I do think it leaves fathers out in the cold in this one respect. We have evolved into a culture (thankfully) where co-parenting is becoming more prevalent; some dads are even taking on the role of primary caregiver, which I see as a huge step for gender equality. But unless they can occasionally give the baby a bottle, they never get to enjoy this heralded “bonding”. And that sucks (no pun intended).

When my son wants comfort, he usually comes to me, but I think that’s more a matter of my being the primary caregiver; other than that, he is equally bonded to both my husband and myself. I love that. I love that he sees me as more than a food source; that the comfort I give him is something that I have developed as I’ve gotten to know him as an individual, something that I had to learn and work at. I love that his eyes light up when he sees his dad, that we’ve never had that issue of him wanting mommy more than daddy… I love that we are an all-powerful, seamless family unit, with interchangeable roles…

I certainly don’t think this is an argument against breastfeeding, but more of a nice little consolation present for those who are formula feeding or pumping. And feeling this way, I just can’t see why that image in the Zales commercial would offend anyone… if it were a mom standing there bottle-feeding, then I could obviously buy the argument that this is yet another subliminal message feeding a formula-centric society, but guys, how else is the man in this commercial supposed to feed the baby? And maybe that was integral to the point they were trying to get across in the 0.2 seconds that this image flashed on the screen – a lovely moment between father and child which provokes him to profess his love for the woman who made it all possible.

And hey. There ain’t nothin’ wrong with giving her some bling for her efforts. I think we can all agree on that.

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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13 thoughts on “Diamonds are a girl’s breast friend

  1. Uhm. What?

    Of all the things to get upset about, someone chooses THAT?
    I actually thought the ad was kinda sweet. In a super disgusting sappy way of course, but sweet.

    I chose to formula feed before my child was born (I'm just that one step more outrageously horrid than the rest of you:)), unlike most of the people here. But besides the BIG CLINCHER which, really is no ones business but our own, one of the pros i saw to the whole formula feeding ordeal is that my partner would be able to be heavily involved with feeding. It was super important to me, not only because it meant we could job share more, that he would bond faster and easier with bubs (? if that's even the case?) but because when ZJ was 3 months old I would be returning to work and Simon would be quitting work to stay home with ZJ. It was our aim to have both of them well set into a routine and comfortable with feeds before that happened and …it worked fabulously.

    Yes I could of (if it wasn't for the other stuff) breast fed for those months and then weened him but we thought it would be easier to start off how we planned to finish. And you know what? it work freaking fantastically. We feel as though it is the single most best decision we have made as parents.

    Aren't i a horrible person eh?

  2. Yes,Lillily, you are a TERRIBLE person. You made a choice to do what was best for your situation, for the benefit of your family. Wow, how selfish!

    😉

    I love watching my husband feed my son. (Well, loved, past tense- kiddo won't let us feed him anymore, he holds the bottle/sippy with one hand like a guy swilling back beer. I'm sure the lactivists would have a field day with that one!) It was such a tender, sweet moment. And I am also excited that when I have a second kid, my husband will be able to share the feeding responsibilities, so that we can give Kiddo #1 as much attention and cuddling as possible. These ARE bottle feeding benefits, IMO.

  3. Interesting! I think that the upset over this ad is about ego, not the issue of breastfeeding or formula feeding. This is a case of people looking for things to be offended by, thus solidying their sense of self and “position”. It's a reminder to check myself and be aware of situations in which I am expecting or looking to be offended or viewing something in such a skewed way so as to get upset! Because I'm prone to it as well.

    Or maybe, since most moms make the decision about how to feed their baby based on highly authoritative jewelry commercials, this really is cause for outrage. Could go either way, I guess.

    lililly, I think we are equally horrid. Formula feeders, whatever our reasons, unite! 😉

  4. Wow. I'm with you – the “faux horror movie” ad is MUCH worse. And…agreed with lililly: Wha?? I find the image of a dad feeding his little dude or dudette ADORABLE. And I typically think “aw, a baby is eating” not “I wonder what's in that bottle.” But that's just me.

    As a side note, I pumped for five months (boy didn't like the boob, but the cheapskate in me couldn't move to formula when the cow was coming free at home) and now formula feed due to anti anxiety meds. May I say I was *shocked* at the comments I got regarding the fact that “Breast is Best” while feeding my son from a bottle with my own personal milk in it? Part of me wanted to run around without boob pads on so I could squirt the jerks in the eye when I heard it. But I restrained myself. 😉 So, yay for this blog! 🙂

  5. “First of all…we don't know what's in the bottle.”

    I wrote an article about just that point. It is amazing how some women freak out when they see a bottle and ignore what might be inside it. It really is none of their business! I too pumped as well as nursed, and it was great that my husband could help feed our son.

    Thank goodness for sites such as yours! 🙂

  6. Thank you SO much for your blog- I tried absolutely EVERYTHING I could to breastfeed my 4 month old, but in the end nothing worked. I am pumping exclusivly now, but you give me hope that if I choose to switch to formula there is no reason to feel guilty. THANK YOU!

  7. WOW. That lady is a peach. Outraged over a father feeding his child?? Yea, I really have no words for this one. She really contributes to the stereotype (ok my stereotype) about how ridiculous BF activists can be.

  8. Wow. That's insane. I thought it was a sweet commercial, too. I really wish my husband could have fed my daughter once in a while. But the lactivists scared me out of even giving her expressed milk in a bottle because of nipple confusion, and then she wouldn't take a bottle. Luckily, they've been able to bond remarkably well, but I would have been so sad if she wouldn't go to her daddy because she just wanted to nurse all the time. That wouldn't mean she loved me more, just that she loved to eat. That wouldn't make me feel special, ya' know?

  9. I think your posts are well thought out and very interesting.

    While I'm currently BFing my baby boy and don't want to use formula, I think it's cool that you're doing this for the mommas out there. There are many reasons as to why moms out there can't BF their babies or just don't want to. Who are we to tell them what to do with their bodies?

    Personally, I feel that the benefits of BFing my boy outweigh all the other reasons to formula feed him, but to each their own. Who am I to tell you what to feed your baby! My best friend was formula fed and is a knock-out, gorgeous person!

    Kudos to you for working so hard at this! All mommas need support in raising their kids. We all feed them what we want and no one should be tormented by it.

    Finally, the ad never bothered me at the least! I know that I work my butt off to pump milk for my boy and it could have been BM in that bottle.

  10. “According to many breastfeeding advocates, feeding your child is an act of bonding- so without the ability to bottle feed, fathers are robbed of this amazing opportunity.”

    This isn't really true. Feeding in general isn't the act of bonding. Bonding is one of the benefits of breastfeeding over bottlefeeding. Reasons are twofold: one, because breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin which is commonly referred to as the “bonding hormone”; and two, because of the skin-to-skin contact. Bottlefeeding produces neither of those. Dads are out of luck with the hormone end of it, but can produce skin-to-skin contact moments of bonding by stripping off his shirt and rocking the baby to sleep. No bottle necessary, pumped breastmilk or otherwise.

  11. @Sachachelle – Thanks for your kind words! I chuckled at your comment about working damn hard for your pumped milk – I completely relate to that. During my pumping days, my mom once accidentally knocked a bottle of breastmilk off a shelf and the cap flew off and oh… the horror. It was seriously awful. It was at the beginning when I had to work so hard to get just a few ounces and I cried for about 8 hours over spilled milk.

    And thanks for understanding the choice factor in all this. I think it is wonderful that you are breastfeeding successfully and I wish you the very best with your son!

    @Adrienne-

    Valid point. I am a strong believer in skin-to-skin time, especially if you are bottle feeding. Regardless of whether they are breastfeeding or not, every parent can reap the rewards of bonding in this way. It is a wonderful thing.

  12. Well.

    1° Oxytocyn is produced on the MOTHER's side while breastfeeding, not on the baby's side…baby's got his fair share of ocytocyn because he is being fed in general, and because he is being held, touched, caressed etc…independently of the milk qualities. Most generally ocytocin is what enables attachement among human beings…BUT whenever breasfeeding goes wrong, hurts, induces mastitis, fever, whenever it induces depression because it is failing (and it happens a lot, judging by testimonies on the internet), THEN it does not do any good, it may even compromise the bonding…so ? Stress, anger impacts the chemical balance…Not so simple…you cannot isolate a parameter without considering the context around it.

    2° Why do you think that a woman cannot do skin-to-skin contact with her baby when bottlefeeding ? the only difference is that, when breastfeeding, the baby's mouth is on the mother's nipple. The position slightly differs. Of course, mothers can do skin to skin contact at any time, not only when breasfeeding…

    One additional benefit when bottlefeeding is that it enables eye to eye contact, which is much more less the case when breasfeeding (just have a look on videos on the internet on mummies breasfeeding, particularly younger babies). The only thing the breastfed baby sees is… mum's boob..it requires an effort from him to look mummy right in the eyes. When bottle feeding, the baby's face is nearer mummy's face. It might be a little different for breasfed toddlers (but then of course, the fact that they often move their head with mum's nipple in their mouth is quite painful for her and upsetting, which is another cause of tension…)

    So please do not accept too easily “benefits” that have been pointed out by la Leche League as truths. La Leche League has been infiltrated with catholic zealots, and I seriously do not think that their only aim is to “help” mothers…

    It is nice if you breastfeed because you like it, because it is your own choice, and not because la Leche League said this or that…

    Please excuse my poor english (French mother tongue) 😉

    C

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