TIME Opinion

The Problem With Dolce and Gabbana’s Motherhood-Themed Runway Show

Dolce & Gabbana - Runway RTW - Fall 2015 - Milan Fashion Week
Catwalking/Getty Images Models walk the runway at the Dolce & Gabbana Autumn Winter 2015 fashion show during Milan Fashion Week on March 1, 2015 in Milan, Italy.

The designers' Milan Fashion Week show celebrated mothers — but not in the way our culture needs

Mother’s Day arrived early this year in Italy, where Milan Fashion Week is currently taking place. Sunday’s Dolce and Gabbana show, named “Viva la mamma!,” was entirely dedicated to celebrating motherhood. A handful of models walked the runway with their children and babies, while “Mama” by the Spice Girls played. Model Bianca Balti, heavily pregnant with her second child, even walked in the show. Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have said the show was an homage to their own mothers.

The collection on display matched the mother-loving theme: ultra-feminine shapes — think full skirts and cinched waists — with loads of lace and florals. Many of the garments were emblazoned with the word “Mamma” or had children’s drawings printed across them, in the same vein as Angelina Jolie’s wedding veil.

It’s hard to deny the actual collection is stunning, but the idea of the show itself left me cold. Celebrating motherhood is all well and good, but this display was an entirely shallow endorsement of women that smacks of a gimmick. The theme might be sweet and largely inoffensive — after all, who doesn’t love moms? — but it also stuck to a particularly narrow definition of mothers. In D&G’s world, motherhood is the most limiting archetype of all, where women are radiant and impossibly beautiful, but not truly sexual.

Of course, it was nice to see a shape on the runway that falls outside the runway norm and isn’t pin-thin. One of the most justified and enduring criticisms of the fashion world is its reliance on ultra thin and, in some cases, unhealthy bodies. So props to Dolce and Gabbana, who asked Balti, clad in a form-fitting pink dress, to walk the runway. Alas, Balti was the only one on the runway who offered anything different, size-wise. (And, as others have pointed out, the models were mostly caucasian.) The rest of the models — even the new mothers — shared the typical model dimensions we’ve come to expect from fashion week.

But there’s a destructive side to flashily incorporating mothers-to-be and new mothers in a fashion show. In many ways our culture fetishizes mothers — and pregnancy — and the fashion and beauty industries are no different. Many women’s magazines and fashion websites have dedicated plenty of space to cataloging pregnant celebrities and their growing “bumps.” The very same publications devote even more attention to those women’s bodies after they give birth, either celebrating the return of a “pre-baby body” or tracking the struggle to bounce back to a so-called ideal.

Unfortunately, much of our culture’s focus on new motherhood and pregnancy ends up revolving around women’s bodies and how they look. That context is hard to separate in a fashion show — which displays women’s clothing on women’s bodies — that also tries to honor motherhood, no matter how well-intentioned.

Read next: World’s Most Famous Baby Photographer on the Power of Motherhood

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TIME Advertising

This Ad Perfectly Captures the Horrors of New Motherhood

It's also great birth control

HelloFlo doesn’t just tackle first periods — it’s also breaking into the mom market.

The women’s health company, which scored a viral hit last year with an ad about a young girl’s “first moon party,” is back with a new campaign. In this ad, a new mom takes a break from breastfeeding and changing diapers to perform a musical about how much it sucks to have a tiny baby. “How could I let another woman walk through the terrifying abyss of motherhood without telling her the things I’d seen?” she says.

“For what it’s worth: There’s no laughter after after-birth,” she sings in a full-on Broadway style belt.

When asked if she’s worried about the success of her musical, she replies: “I have suction cups attached to my nipples, squeezing milk out of my rock-hard boobs. I fear nothing.” Once she sees HelloFlo’s new mom kit — which includes essentials like nipple cream, breast pads, lotion and Luna bars — she fears it’s so useful, it will make her musical obsolete. Until she uses it to bribe everyone to see her show.

If you’re a mom, you’ll love this. If you’re not a mom yet, it might scare you off for good.

Read next: This Video Shows Why Being a Mom Is the Hardest Job Out There

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TIME Family

Old Spice’s Clingy Mom Will Make You Cringe

One small ad, one giant eye roll.

Old Spice sure has a low opinion of poor old mom.

In their new ad, mom has nothing to live for her, but her little baby boy. So when Junior starts hosing himself down in Old Spice-scented masculinity and becomes a man—which, of course, means dating attractive young women—in that straight-out-of-Sophocles way, mom just can’t handle it. She starts weeping and wailing her so-called “Momsong” like a Greek chorus in mom jeans and growing extra-long arms to cling to her precious baby boy.

“Where’s my little boy, I miss him so/Who’s this man living in our home?/My special guy has turned into a man,” she sings, before collapsing on the carpet in a heap of tear-swollen misery. That’s when good old dad comes rolling in on his riding lawnmower, as stereotypical suburban dads are wont to do, singing his ode to the joy that his son isn’t living in a van down by the river and is instead getting some action under the hash-marked tagline “#SmellcomeToManhood.” Hey ad: Gross.

The ad is actually a follow-up to another spot for Old Spice’s line of lady-luring body spray for young men. The first ad, titled “MomSong”, is more of the same, because apparently clingy mothers, wailing over the fact that their sons are developing at an age-appropriate rate, is never not funny. In “MomSong” the beleaguered mothers become creepy stalkers following their sons on dates while sniffing (literally) their former babies who now “smell like a man.” (Note to future self: Please refrain from sniffing grown son.)

It’s unfortunate that Old Spice and Weiden + Kennedy, the agency hired to make the ad, which features music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame, felt the need to peddle in stereotypes that would have been outdated even in the Mad Men era. (It’s also unfortunate that they think people want to “smell manhood.”)

While it’s clear that it’s all meant as one big joke, the whole ad is just a giant eye roll. While it’s clear that moms are not the target demographic for scented body spray with manly names like Bearglove and Lionpride, moms still have to live in a world where mothers are treated like nothing more than overbearing, emotionally unstable, clingy women, instead of, say, human beings wondering why their teenaged son spent his allowance on a male perfume called “Lionpride.” You can do better Old Spice.

Hopefully their own mothers will have a little talk with them over the Thanksgiving dinner table.

[H/T AdWeek.]

TIME

Mothers Talk Differently to Daughters than Sons: Study

Young school girl holding mother's hand, close-up
Lisa Stirling—Getty Images

They use more emotional language, which has an effect on girls' worldview

Most mothers would tell you they speak to all their children the same way. A new study suggests they might be deceived. In a study published yesterday in The British Journal of Developmental Psychology, authors Ana Aznar and Harriet Tenenbaum found that mothers are more likely to use emotional words and emotional content when speaking with their 4-year-old daughters than with their 4-year-old sons.

What’s more, since mothers tend to use more emotion-laden language than fathers do, they are often unknowingly perpetuating gender stereotypes in their children. On the plus side, though, it may be why women tend to have a higher emotional intelligence than men.

“We know…that children imitate same-gendered models [i.e. girls imitate moms and boys imitate dads] more than different-gendered models,” says Tenenbaum, associate professor of psychology at the University of Surrey, in an interview with TIME. “So they are taught that emotions are more acceptable for women than for men.” (Insert emotionally-unavailable husband/father/boyfriend joke here.)

Tenenbaum points out that learning emotional intelligence is incredibly important for children in terms of school success, getting along with teachers and having good peer relations. “[Past studies have shown that] children who are better able to show emotions in kindergarten did better in the 4th grade than kids who didn’t,” she says. Moreover, “children who use more emotional words are more popular in nursery school. People would rather be around someone who can understand and interpret emotions.” And kids who understand emotions better tend to have higher performance in school even after controlling for intelligence, she notes.

In this new study, researchers videotaped 65 Spanish mothers and fathers along with their 4-year-old and 6-year-old children during a storytelling task and then during a conversation about a past experience. The subjects lived in middle-to-upper-class neighborhoods. On the first visit, the mother or the father and the child were taped in conversation. Within a week, the other parent and the child came in and talked about a similar subject. The videotaped conversations were transcribed and emotion words like “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “love,” “concern,” and “fear,” were singled out.

Mothers used a higher proportion of emotional words than fathers did with both 4 and 6-year olds, which is consistent with studies performed in the U.S. But they were particularly expressive with their 4-year old daughters. “American mothers and fathers do similar things in enforcing emotions,” says Tenenbaum. The theory is that mothers may be more comfortable talking about their emotions than fathers. Children might therefore think it is more appropriate for girls to talk about feelings. In fact, daughters were more likely than sons to speak about their emotions with their fathers when talking about past experiences. And during these reminiscing conversations, fathers used more emotion-laden words with their 4-year-old daughters than with their 4-year-old sons.

Aznar and Tenenbaum did a few things in this study that made it different from previous ones. They added fathers to the equation, when most studies looking at emotions have focused only on mothers, and they examined Spanish families, which hadn’t been looked at before, because they wanted to see how patterns played out across different cultures.

And most importantly, the authors tested the children to determine their baseline emotional comprehension. They quizzed them on what people in various situations might be feeling and found that emotional understanding was the same for 4-year-old boys and girls. Thus, emotional intelligence is not an innate quality of females. Since the pretest didn’t show that 4-year-old girls understand emotions any better than boys, the fact that parents talk in more emotional terms to daughters over sons can’t be explained away by saying parents do this because they believe girls understand emotions better. “We didn’t find any difference in the children’s understanding of emotions in the pretest,” says Tenenbaum.

Tenenbaum was surprised that mothers and fathers continue to perpetuate the stereotypes. “Most parents say they want boys to be more expressive, but don’t know [they] are speaking differently to them,” she says.

Parents should try to teach boys about emotion as much as possible, says Tenenbaum, and use emotion-laden language with both sons and daughters. “We are beyond the point in society where boys are taught never to express emotions,” she says. “We need to model for them how to appropriately express emotions. These are learned stereotypes and we are reinforcing them as a society.”

TIME Parenting

7 Things More Offensive Than Breastfeeding in Restaurants

Smartphone photo before fine dining
Thomas Lai Yin Tang—Flickr/Getty Images

Plantiffs are flirting with near fatal levels of hypocrisy, as patrons can commit some truly outrageous sins during their meals

I have a confession to make. Before I had kids, I was uncomfortable with moms breastfeeding their babies in public. Specifically, I thought it was offensive when they did it in restaurants.

My narrow view at the time saw it as women exposing themselves at tables populated by men, women and children simply trying to enjoy a meal. Why couldn’t they do that out in the car or in the bathroom? At the very least they could cover up and sit off in the corner. It’s just common decency, right?

Naturally, once I became a father and gained some perspective, I realized how ridiculous I was being. Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to nurture a baby and one of the most natural and instinctive things a mother can do for her child. It isn’t something that should be hidden away or made out as shameful. If anything, it should be celebrated and encouraged.

But when restaurants make news for shaming breastfeeding moms, it’s particularly grating.

Any restaurant employees or patrons upset at breastfeeding moms are flirting with near fatal levels of hypocrisy, as there are some truly annoying things that happen during meals that are far more offensive than a woman breastfeeding her child. So in observance of World Breastfeeding Week, here are my top seven.

7. Personal Cell Phone Conversations

So, you think breastfeeding moms are revealing too much? Then I hope you’re not one of the dozens of people who go out to dinner and inevitably have awkwardly personal cell phone conversations within earshot of everyone. A mother feeding her child isn’t nearly as offensive and inappropriate as a room full of strangers knowing intricate details of your most recent colonoscopy.

6. Splitting the Check

As someone who worked in restaurants, I can say without a shadow of a doubt I’d rather wait on an army of breastfeeding moms than deal with one large group who hands over 10 different credit cards and asks to split the bill evenly. If anyone should go to the bathroom and feel shame for a few minutes, it’s check-splitters.

5. The Sound of Your Eating

Misophonia: a neurological disorder in which negative experiences are triggered by specific sounds. While some people claim they need bleach for their eyes after seeing the “horror” of a woman’s partially exposed breast giving the milk of life to her baby, that same person could be horrifying nearby diners with lip-smacking, open-mouthed, wet chewing noises that easily drown out any sound of suckling from the baby.

4. Bad Tipping

Too many people complain about seeing gratuitous flesh when moms are feeding their babies, and not paying enough attention to leaving the waiter or waitress an adequate gratuity. It’s ironic these people are full of generous suggestions for mothers regarding how, when and where to feed their children, yet their generosity is nowhere to be found when it’s time to leave a tip.

3. Taking Pictures of Food

Stop. Instagramming. Your. Dinner. People complain about nursing mothers in restaurants being exhibitionists, yet they’re taking 27 pictures of the food they’re about to consume so they can post it on various social media platforms for the world to see. At least breastfeeding is productive.

2. Hitting on the Wait Staff

Women baring their breasts in restaurants are inappropriate and unbecoming? That’s funny, since I’ve seen moron after moron staring at the breasts (and other parts) of their waitress, and then engage in a pathetic attempt to hit on her. For people so quick to be the moral arbiters of breastfeeding in public, decorum quickly disintegrates when it comes to their delusions of grandeur regarding their waitress’s nonexistent romantic interest.

1. Drunk People

We get it, you think breastfeeding in public is gross. Do you know how we know you think that? It’s because your “drunk whisper” is actually a sonic boom reaching even the far corners of the restaurant. While these people lament the lack of common decency amongst breastfeeding moms, they seem to have no care in the world when it comes to screaming, being belligerent and making drunken asses of themselves while mothers quietly feed their kids.

If we’re going to encourage mothers to breastfeed, then we need to get over ourselves and stop sexualizing breastfeeding. We also need to stop making mothers feel ashamed and self-conscious for it, while attempting to relegate them to the bathroom during feedings. And if common sense isn’t enough to make this a reality, then we need more laws on the books protecting the rights of moms to feed their kids not just in restaurants, but anywhere out in public.

Aaron Gouveia is a husband, father of two boys, and writes for his site, The Daddy Files.

TIME motherhood

The Top 16 Breastfeeding Controversies

Almost any discussion of how and when we feed our babies sets off a national debate. So to mark World Breastfeeding Week 2014 (yes, that exists), here’s a look at 16 nursing controversies, from the fracas over an Angelina Jolie breastfeeding statue to the suckling husbands phenomenon, and of course, TIME’s 2012 cover about mothers who nurse their kids into late toddlerhood:

 

  • What Starbucks Tells Employees About Breastfeeding Customers

    In a sign of how supercharged the emotions have become about public nursing, a Canadian midwife’s tale of nursing her baby at a local Starbucks in Ottawa went a little viral in early July 2014, getting picked up by news outlets around the globe. The story was, to many, a heartwarming one: after a woman complained to a young, male barista that another woman was breastfeeding without a modesty shield, the barista said he’d take care of it. However, instead of telling the nursing mom to cover up, he just brought her an extra coffee for having to deal with the unpleasantness.

    This is not actually Starbucks’ official policy. In fact, Starbucks doesn’t have an official policy on breastfeeding, according to spokeswoman Laurel Harper. The cappu-chain does have an official policy about making customers feel welcome, Harper noted (several times). “We empower our local partners to reach a decision about how best to make a customer’s experience a positive one,” she says. It was up to the employee to decide which customer in this case was going to have a less-positive experience.

    –Belinda Luscombe

  • Why All the Controversy About a Black Woman Breastfeeding?

    When Karlesha Thurman posted a photo of herself breastfeeding during her college graduation ceremony in June 2014, she never expected to stir up a national controversy about breastfeeding and race. She was met with a flurry of negative comments about her decision to nurse her daughter in public.

    “I honestly thought that as a society, people were more understanding of breast-feeding,” Thurman, 25, told the Today Show. “It’s not disgusting, it’s not a bad thing, it’s not a negative thing.”

    The photo put a spotlight on the African American community’s complicated relationship with breastfeeding. After some of the more negative comments were tweeted, the photo was picked up by Black Women Do Breastfeed, a page devoted to celebrating black women who nurse.

    Charlotte Alter

  • Mexico City Breast-Feeding Campaign Draws Backlash

    Mexico City’s May 2014 health campaign to encourage new mothers to nurse has left a sour taste in health advocates’ mouths due to campaign posters that feature topless celebrities.

    The posters show famous women without shirts or bras on, with a banner reading, “No les des la espalda, dale pecho,”or “Don’t turn you back on them, give them your breast,” strategically placed across their chests. Health advocates are peeved that the campaign both sexualizes women and faults those who choose not to breast-feed, rather than simply emphasizing the benefits of doing so.

    Eliana Dockterman

  • ‘My Husband Wants to Breastfeed:’ The Phenomenon Nobody Talks About But Everyone Googles

    It’s the suckle that dare not speak its name. In worldwide Google searches, “my husband wants me to breastfeed him” is a more popular search term than “my husband wants to separate” and “my husband wants a baby”combined.

    Um, what? In May 2014, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz originally reported these numbers in the New York Times, and most of that breastfeeding search traffic is coming from India. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that breastmilk is becoming a delicacy in India, it does suggest a lot of interest. And it begs the question: is this really a thing?

    Absolutely, says Dr. Wendy Walsh, a relationship expert and self-described “dairy queen” who nursed each of her children until they were 3. “Every breastfeeding mother I ever knew said their husband asked to drink it,” she says adding that the father of her child also asked to nurse once in a while.

    Charlotte Alter

  • “If I Could, I Would”: Photographs of Breastfeeding Dads

    Project: Breastfeeding
    Hector Cruz—Project: Breastfeeding

    A March 2014 ad campaign showed photos of fathers in solidarity with breastfeeding mothers. The campaign was spearheaded by Project Breastfeeding and featured shirtless men with their children a caption of, “If I Could, I Would.”

    TIME Photo

  • Controversial Time Breastfeeding Cover

    TIME Cover May 21, 2012
    MARTIN SCHOELLER—TIME

    TIME stirred up its own breastfeeding controversy when the magazine featured a photo of 26-year-old Jamie Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old son on a May 2012 cover. Critics questioned both the decision to breastfeed a child that old and the choice to put the photo on TIME‘s cover.

    In the onslaught of reaction that followed, including death threats sent to Grumet, the mother restated her support of both her breastfeeding choice and the magazine’s cover photo decision. “The statement that I wanted to make was this is a normal option for your child and it should not be stigmatized,” Grumet said. “I’m never saying this is for everybody, but it should be something that’s accepted.”

    Joan E. Greve

  • Sarah Palin Slams Michelle Obama

    First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at Arlington National Cemetery's Women in Military Service for America Memorial Center, Tuesday, March 3, 2009, in Arlington, Virginia.
    Alex Brandon—AP First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at Arlington National Cemetery's Women in Military Service for America Memorial Center, Tuesday, March 3, 2009, in Arlington, Virginia.

    Michelle Obama probably didn’t expect her February 2011 campaign to promote breastfeeding to cause such a fuss. Then Sarah Palin weighed in: “It’s no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you betterbreast-feed your baby. Yeah, you better — because the price of milk is so high right now!” After that, mom blogs on both the right and the left piled on, saying that Obama was putting too much pressure on mothers to nurse. Meanwhile, a number of newspapers dug up information showing that as governor of Alaska, Palin herself promoted breast feeding.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • The Realistic Breastfeeding Baby Doll

    Breast Milk Baby Doll
    Amazon

    The Breast Milk Baby — boringly renamed from the unfortunately titled “Bebé Glotón” (Glutton Baby) — is nothing if not good at grabbing headlines. The Spanish doll that simulates breastfeeding caught the attention of American morning shows in 2010 before it had made it across the ocean. The $69 doll made news again in 2011 after its manufacturer, Berjuan Toys, announced that the product was being released in the U.S. market.

    The doll, which is sold with a brassiere-like harness for a child, suckles when pressed against strategically placed magnetic daisies positioned precisely where any real baby goes to nurse. Plenty of people, including women, have recoiled and squealed “gross!”, but why the toy nursling is so controversial goes to the roots of Americans’ squeamishness with breast-feeding in general.

    Bonnie Rochman

  • Julie Bowen’s Revealing Photo

    The star of ABC’s smash hit Modern Family, Julie Bowen, made waves in May 2010 when she released a photo of herself topless and breast-feeding her twin sons in what’s called the “football hold” — a position that allows twins to nurse simultaneously. The image, taken from above, shows Bowen’s bare chest with the two babies latched on. When Bowen told George Lopez on TBS’ Lopez Tonight that she wasn’t allowed to show the photo on ABC’s The View, he promptly displayed it for so long that Bowen got a little embarrassed. And that was before Lopez put up Photoshopped images of the babies suctioning up various other things like the Gulf oil spill. And while Bowen may regret ever releasing the image, at least she didn’t pass judgment on women who don’t breast-feed.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • Breastfeeding School-Age Kids

    Extraordinary Breastfeeding A still from the documentary Extraordinary Breastfeeding

    There’s lots of debate over how long to breast-feed, yet most Americans would agree that by the time a child reaches kindergarten, it’s time to stop. But not Amanda Hurst. The 29-year-old mother made headlines in 2010 by defending her decision to breastfeed both her 6-year-old and her 5-month-old. And she’s not the most extreme case. A 2006 British documentary, Extraordinary Breastfeeding, featured a mother who breast-fed her 8-year-old; viewers on YouTube have likened the practice to child abuse. And while nursing past the age of 1 is considered “extended breast feeding” in the U.S. and most Western countries, in India and parts of Africa, children are more commonly weaned later, usually between the ages of 3 and 4.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • Facebook Accused of Censoring Breastfeeding Photos

    In 2009, Facebook endured the wrath of women who noticed that photos of them breast feeding were being deleted from their profiles — even when the photos were designated as viewable by friends and family only. Facebook countered by saying that photos with nipples showing are a violation of their policies (which permit the removal of photos deemed obscene or pornographic). The company added that almost all the images they removed were flagged by other users.

    The controversy hasn’t seemed to hurt Facebook much. In fact, instead of quitting the social network in protest, some of the mothers started a Facebook page to organize their cause. The“Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding Is Not Obscene” page now has more than 250,000 members and nearly 7,000 photos of babies nursing. The page has become somewhat of a hub for news about breast-feeding rights and other mothering issues.

    Facebook has since updated its policy to allow for photos of mothers nursing on the social media site. “We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we’re glad to know that it’s important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook,” their policy now reads.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • Salma Hayek Breastfeeds an African Baby

    Actress Salma Hayek opened up a whole new kind of breastfeeding debate in 2009 when a video of her nursing a hungry baby boy in Sierra Leone surfaced on YouTube. Hayek told ABC’s Nightline that she fed the newborn in an effort to promote breastfeeding in a region that has one of the highest infant-mortality rates in the world, mainly due to malnutrition.

    And while HIV transmission via breast feeding is a concern throughout Africa, and international health guidelines advise HIV-positive mothers to avoid breast feeding when an alternative source of nourishment is “acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe,” those conditions aren’t often met in places like Sierra Leone where starvation is an immediate threat.

    Hayek won praise for her mission, and the video prompted a wave of discussion over whether Western countries should be donating breast milk to nations in need instead of, or in addition to, infant formula.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • A Proformula Onesie?

    Old Navy

    A simple $5 Old Navy T-shirt for babies set off a firestorm in 2009, thanks to what the company thought was a clever illustration of a baby bottle and the words “Formula Powered.” Breast-feeding advocates called for a boycott of the chain for encouraging baby formula over breast milk. “It was not meant to be anti–breastfeeding,” said Louise Callagy, spokeswoman of Gap Inc., Old Navy’s parent company, who also pointed out that Old Navy also manufactures nursing bras and tops. The onesie was part of a fall clothing collection with a racing theme. Cate Nelson, a blogger at the green-parenting site Eco Child’s Play wasn’t convinced. In a statement sure to inflame bottle-feeding parents, she said, “Formula simply isn’t the healthy option. So, why doesn’t Old Navy know it?”

    —Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • The Angelina Jolie Breast-Feeding Statue

    Daniel Edwards

    In 2009, sculptor Daniel Edwards took it upon himself to depict actress Angelina Jolie seated while feeding twin infants simultaneously for an odd-looking work entitled Landmark for Breastfeeding. The New York–based artist favors celebrity subjects, including a much publicized sculpture of Britney Spears giving birth nude, which he described as “pro-life.”

    Edwards says the sculpture was originally inspired by W magazine’s 2008 cover of Jolie nursing one of her newborn twins, Vivienne and Knox. And while that image of Jolie was widely welcomed by breastfeeding advocates, it’s not entirely clear whether the grim-looking Jolie statue would inspire an increase in nursing.

    —Susanna Schrobsdorff
  • Woman Kicked Off a Plane for Breastfeeding

    Women breastfeed their babies at the Hir
    Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images Women breastfeed their babies at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington on February 12, 2011 during a "nurse-in."

    A legal dispute over public breastfeeding began in 2006 when Emily Gillette said that a Delta Connection flight attendant told her to get off the plane when she refused to cover up while nursing her 22-month-old daughter. Gillette filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission, claiming that she was sitting discreetly by the window with her husband in the aisle seat when a flight attendant gave her a blanket. After Gillette declined the blanket, she was escorted off the plane.

    The incident sparked “nurse-ins” at Delta counters across the country. And while both Delta and its partner Freedom Airlines, which operated Gillette’s flight on behalf of Delta, have apologized and reaffirmed the right of women to breastfeed on their planes, Gillette filed a civil suit against Delta in the U.S. District Court in the fall of 2009.

    Gillette settled with the airlines for an undisclosed amount in March 2012.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • Redbook’s Breastfeeding Cover

    In 1997, Redbook magazine came out with what was then a fairly revolutionary cover featuring actor Pierce Brosnan gazing adoringly at his girlfriend Keely Shaye Smith as she breastfeeds their infant son. The image didn’t reveal more of Smith’s bosom than your average Oscar gown, but nonetheless, that cover only appeared on newsstands while a more traditional image of the family was on the version that went to subscribers. Editor in chief Kate White explained that the magazine produced two covers for the first time in its history because the editors didn’t want “to force the image on anyone.” Meanwhile, some convenience-store-chain owners said that if customers complained, they reserved the right to move the controversial breast-feeding cover behind the counter along with risqué men’s magazines like Playboy.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

TIME White House

Obama Wants Federal Workers to Have More Family Time

President Barack Obama speaks at the first White House Summit on Working Families
Martin H. Simon—Corbis President Barack Obama joins several working parents, (l-r) Roger Trombley, Lisa Rumain, and Shelby Ramirez for lunch at a nearby Chipotle restaurant prior to speakinging at the first White House Summit on Working Families at the Omni Hotel in Washington, June 23, 2014.

Executive actions to work around Congress in an election year

President Barack Obama announced executive actions Monday that would give federal employees more flexibility to take time off to care for their families.

During a White House Summit on Working Families, Obama said it was time for business leaders and lawmakers to create work environments that respect employees’ lives outside the office. “Twenty-first century families deserve 21st-century workplaces,” Obama said Monday afternoon. “Our economy demands them because its going to help us compete.”

Obama accused Congress on stalling on policies that would benefit working families, and the executive actions he took Monday, while not far reaching, were his latest attempt to work around Capitol Hill in a midterm election year. Obama instructed government agencies to provide workers with the flexibility to take time off to care for sick family members, to take breaks to nurse, and to telecommute when necessary without running the risk of punishment.

“Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth,” Obama said . “That’s a pretty low bar.”

At the summit, business leaders and Democrats gathered to discuss policies that could benefit American workers, with CEOs from Johnson & Johnson and Goldman Sachs scheduled to appear alongside the President, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. Democrats spent the day touting policies that have helped them maintain an advantage with women voters, but Obama said Monday that workplace issues—from workplace flexibility to raising the minimum wage—should not be thought of as issues that solely impact women.

“At a time when women are nearly half of our workforce,” Obama said. “Anything that makes life harder for women, makes life harder for families, and makes life harder for children. There’s no such thing as a women’s issue; this is a family issue. This is an American issue.”

More than 40% of mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners, and yet still make on average 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, according to a U.S. Council of Economic Advisors report released ahead of the summit (conservatives have called the 77-cents figure misleading). Men, however, are spending more time as caregivers than ever before.

Republicans dismissed the summit as a political ploy for women voters ahead of the midterm elections.

“It’s unfortunate that President Obama and the Democrats see women only as an electoral opportunity,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. “How do we know this? President Obama could have held a bill signing ceremony instead of a politically-minded summit if he and Harry Reid would act on legislation to help working families that is being held up in the Senate.”

TIME Family

Having a Second Baby Makes Moms Less Happy Than Dads

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Monashee Frantz—Getty Images/OJO Images RF Smiling family of four sitting in bed together

Dads, however, are pretty happy after the birth of baby number two

The birth of a first child usually brings both parents great joy, but new analysis shows that a mother’s happiness begins to wane after the second.

According to the FiveThirtyEight blog, 60% of men and women say they feel an increase or decrease in happiness after the first child is born. For baby number two, however, the numbers shift. About 65% of women report being less happy after their second child enters the world, compared to 40% of men.

But a second baby doesn’t just significantly impact a couple’s happiness, the little bundle of joy can be a burden (or blessing) for couples’ relationships too.

According to the data, derived from the annual General Social Survey, a National Opinion Research Center survey that examines societal change, women are less likely to be dissatisfied in their relationships after the second child than men. About 85% of men reportedly feel less satisfied in their relationship as their family expands, compared to 51% of women.

So while mom is overwhelmed by the stress of raising kids, dad is growing less satisfied in the relationship. Great news to kick off Father’s Day weekend, huh?

[FiveThirtyEight]

TIME Family

Divorce: Shared Custody of Kids is on the Rise

Custody to moms only may soon be a thing of the past

Fewer mothers than ever are being given sole custody of their children as shared custody is on the rise.

A new study of Wisconsin Court Records published in Demography shows that from 1988 to 2008, the percentage of mothers who were awarded sole custody of their kids plummeted from 80% to 42%, but that was accompanied by a steep rise in joint custody arrangements. Over the same period of time, equal shared custody rose from 5% to 27% and unequal shared custody rose from 3% to 18%. Father-only custody stayed roughly the same the whole time, hovering around 10%.

The study doesn’t cover kids who are born into single-parent households, just households that have gone through a divorce, which is why it might seem a bit misleading– 45% of American babies are born to unmarried mothers, but those custody arrangements aren’t studied here.

TIME Family

Americans More Likely to Care for Ailing Mom Than Dad

But dads are more popular patients

You better work on your relationship with your mom, because Americans are more than twice as likely to care for an ailing mother as for a father or spouse, according to a new poll.

Over 40% of Americans say they’ve provided long-term care for a sick mother, but only 17% say they’ve cared for an ailing father, according to the Associated Press/NORC released Monday. That probably has more to do with life expectancy than favoritism. What’s more, 83% of caregivers say providing long-term care has been a rewarding experience, and almost 8 in 10 say it’s strengthened their relationships with the care recipient.

But it’s spouses who cause the real stress, meaning “in sickness and in health” may be one of the most difficult wedding vows to keep. Over 60% of those who have cared for an ailing spouse say it’s caused stress in their families, compared to about 55% for other relatives. And 50% of those who’ve cared for a spouse say it’s been a drain on personal finances, while that number hovers closer to 20-30% for parents or in-laws.

Fathers end up being pretty popular when it comes to long-term care. Over 80% of those who have cared for a sick father say it’s been a positive experience and strengthened their relationship with their dad.

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