A bit of an internet brouhaha has erupted over Gisele Bundchen’s comments about breastfeeding. In the September issue of the UK version of Harper’s Bazaar, Bundchen said there should be an international law requiring moms to breastfeed.
To me, it seems that common sense says Bundchen was speaking in hyperbole. There’s absolutely no way there would ever be a law, national or international, mandating breastfeeding. So I think any criticism of her comments is unfair.
Nevertheless, Bundchen felt the need to respond to her critics, writing this on her blog today:
My intention in making a comment about the importance of breastfeeding has nothing to do with the law. It comes from my passion and beliefs about children. Becoming a new mom has brought a lot of questions, I feel like I am in a constant search for answers on what might be the best for my child. It’s unfortunate that in an interview sometimes things can seem so black and white. I am sure if I would just be sitting talking about my experiences with other mothers, we would just be sharing opinions. I understand that everyone has their own experience and opinions and I am not here to judge. I believe that bringing a life into this world is the single most important thing a person can undertake and it can also be the most challenging. I think as mothers we are all just trying our best.
Melissa Whitworth, the author of the Harper’s story, also jumped into the fray, defending Bundchen. She had this to say, writing in the Telegraph:
Gisele has always been extremely passionate about a variety of issues – environmental preservation, mental and physical health and motherhood. And now it seems we can add breastfeeding to that list.
The bit that outraged the mummy brigade was where she said it should be “a law” for mothers to breastfeed for at least six months. “How dare someone so beautiful and rich make us feel bad about ourselves?”, they shrieked.
I can understand why. Gisele has bounced back to her pre-motherhood weight, but that surely is just a freak of genetics. She finds breastfeeding to be easy. But we all know mothers who don’t, despite their best efforts, and thus have to rely on formula. In America, where maternity leave lasts all of five minutes and employers think they are being incredibly kind to provide office “lactation rooms”, six months is an impossible length of time. Which is exactly what Gisele is trying to highlight. Gisele knows only too well that not every mother can enjoy the freedoms she does. And she is not a politician. So hold on a sec: the Gisele Breastfeeding Rule is not waiting to be signed into law. She is just a passionate new mother with an opinion.
I found her to be warm, maternal, energetic, nurturing and passionate – quite the opposite to the steely glamour queen we see swaggering down the runway and gracing the world’s press today…
The resulting outcry shows just how passionately women feel about the issues Gisele has raised. So let’s celebrate the fact that she’s made us talk about the pros and cons of breastfeeding, and not hang the supermodel out to dry.