One of the most recent debates that is taking rounds in the social media during March 2018 is attributed to a cover photo on a Malayalam magazine. Published from Kerala, the southernmost state in India, portrays a mother who is feeding her baby and has a tagline that says “Moms to Kerala: Don’t stare, we need to breastfeed”.
The girl in the picture is in fact a model who posed with the baby of a mother who was also present during the photoshoot. The big question that is trending now is, ‘Was she / magazine right in doing this’? There are quite a few supporters as well as critics for the assignment taken up by the young model.
The more I think about this debate, two words in Malayalam come to my mind. First one is ‘Pappam’ a term which babies use to denote the most natural feeding bottle available in the world. Second one is ‘Papam’ which means ‘sin’.
It is quite a strange situation that a simple organ in human body is looked at with such a wide spectrum of meanings. What is stranger is the fact that, sheer perception of human beings is what gives one the most innocent and an almost divine aspect whereas the other makes it an object that precipitates a state of a sin being committed that the society almost considers it a taboo!
A baby says ‘Pappam’ and look forward to the mother for quenching her hunger. The act by which the mother and baby becomes one again, is probably the only time after the umbilical cord gets severed. It is an experience something short of being one with God where you take part in sustenance of life on Earth!
The other side of debate borders around topics of sexuality and societal norms that demands women to cover their chest while feeding or otherwise. It is quite interesting to observe that not long ago, when caste system prevailed, there was a revolt in the state of Kerala among the lower castes fighting for their right to cover their chest!
Back to the big question, what is right? I doubt if we’ll ever get a single answer. What is the right thing to do when the same object is perceived by some as a symbol of selfless love and others as eternal icon of lust?
We’ve both sets of people around us and hence I think it is wise to leave it to the prudence of mothers to apply their judgement on what to do when they’ve to feed their little ones. You’ve a million pairs of eyes staring at your chest, of which some are of babies whereas others definitely not; both with an intention to satisfy hunger, with totally different perspectives!
Love your baby & stay safe!