Thursday, 7 April 2011

Breastfeeding promotion: leapardskin bras, groping hands...

I saw some interesting NHS posters promoting breastfeeding today. They were displayed inside University College Hospital, and came in three designs, and so were pinned up as a triptych.

The first one featured a rather nice pair of breasts, one of which was in a rather daring leopardskin brassiere, the other of which was exposed and feeding a baby. ‘Designer Mum. Designer Milk’ read the slogan (see above!).

The second poster featured same nice bosoms (the bra had disappeared by this point), one of which was being mauled by a baby’s hand, the other of which was being groped by a fella’s hand. I can’t quite recall the slogan but the gist was ‘keep your baby AND your man happy’. The small print is that your baby can enjoy your breasts and hey, guess what, so can (and I quote), ‘your man’.

The third poster was the same woman, this time holding the baby with one arm and lifting a small dumbbell with the other. (I should mention that as well as lovely tits the model pictured has the teeniest, most toned stomach in the history of stomachs…i.e. it is not exactly in the shape of most post-natal mothers. Oh, and no stretch marks in sight, of course). Message: breastfeeding helps you get slim.

Now, I’m all for a bit of pro-boobfeeding propaganda. But I was a bit alarmed about the message these posters are putting out. Namely, breastfeeding will make you trendy, sexy and skinny – the holy trinity, no less!

Is it really true? There are loads of benefits to breastfeeding, but they’re more along the lines of long term health benefits to mother and baby. As for breastfeeding making you sexy, I’m not sure I’d welcome having my left bosom fondled whilst breastfeeding with the right. I know I always brag that women are excellent multi-taskers, but come on. The small print went on to reassure women that breastfeeding wouldn’t ‘ruin’ your tits. Perhaps not, though I recall how one female friend laughingly told me that her breasts were like ‘two sad little empty envelopes’ after she’d finished breastfeeding. Also, with all the ‘your man’ messaging, what of single mothers or lesbian couples? Not something the poster designers took into account, clearly!

And what about breastfeeding being a route to weight loss? Hmm…not in my experience! But then, if you’ve just been through the biggest event in your life and you’re struggling to cope with a newborn and establish breastfeeding, should your weight be an issue at the forefront of your mind? Er, no, despite what celebrity culture might tell us, it should not. There’s plenty of time for that malarkey down the line if a woman is concerned about her weight, but I have to tell you that boobfeeding isn’t some sort of guaranteed weight loss miracle!

So I was a little perturbed by the tone of these promotions. I know they were aiming for being controversial and eye catching, but I have an idea which is even more controversial. A poster campaign that exposes the dubious nature of the formula industry, the poor health outcomes for bottle-fed babies compared to breastfed ones.

But that would never happen, because the formula industry would sue. So for now, it’s leopardskin-clad breasts and hairy male hands groping lactating breasts. Um, not much would put me off breastfeeding, but….!

1 comment:

  1. I found the poster here Sarah, if your readers are interested