Deconstructing the TIME Breastfeeding Cover

I don't read TIME Magazine.  The only time I ever see TIME is during waiting time in a doctor's office.  Time and again I have noticed some references in the news to something timely in TIME, but I don't recall anything in the recent portion of my lifetime that aroused enough interest to take the time to look at TIME.

However, upon seeing a number of tweets and other references to the May 21, 2012 issue of TIME, I decided to click over to their website and see for myself what all the commotion was about.  Once there, I found myself looking at 26-year-old Jamie Lynne Grumet.  She is standing erect with her three-year-old toddler close by her side.  The toddler is standing on a small chair.

Wait -- the toddler is doing more than just standing next to her on a chair; he's breastfeeding.  His adorable little face is turned just enough so that his eyes are looking at the camera while he enjoys his beverage.

My thoughts immediately skipped to the War on Women.  Was there a congressional hearing that I missed?  Had Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, or Sean Hannity said something negative about breastfeeding?  Were the Obama or the Romney children still being breastfed?  Did Kathleen Sebelius issue a regulation requiring breastfeeding until a certain age?

While pondering the possibilities, I looked at the picture again.  I started noticing things that I had previously overlooked.  What appeared to be an innocent picture of the natural act of a mother attending to the nutritional needs of her child was actually a metaphor that brilliantly summarizes the battle of political philosophies currently being waged all across our constitutional republic.

The mother, Ms. Grumet, stands with a hand on her hip, a defiant look on her face.  She knows she is doing something that most others don't do.  Some might call what she is doing radical.  Some might conclude that Ms. Grumet is part of a movement to fundamentally transform the rules of breastfeeding. 

Look at what she is wearing.  All of her clothing is the color blue (as in blue states) except for her shoes.  Ms. Grumet is being used to symbolize our big federal government.  (Stick with me.)

Ms. Grumet appears to be braless.  The left strap to her cotton tank top has been pushed to the far left, exposing her left breast.  To prevent this picture from making this edition of TIME a part of a different genre of magazines, a small put important portion of her breast is hidden by the lips of the three-year-old breastfeeding.  The toddler is getting his nourishment from the federal government.  He is getting this for free.  He is getting it at an age that is significantly beyond the point where the vast majority of other mothers are willing to dedicate their maternal assets to nourishment.  

The boy is being used as a symbol to represent the 40-something percent of Americans that have become dependent on the federal government for their nourishment, for their medical care, for free cell phones, for housing subsidies, for extended unemployment benefits, for subsidized student loans, and for a myriad of other government services that go above and beyond the limited government with enumerated powers that the Framers of our Constitution envisioned.

The boy is wearing camouflage pants.  Is this a tribute to the military, or a show of solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement?  The pants would go nicely with this Occupy Wall Street T-shirt.

Ms. Grumet is also dressed like she is ready to join a protest.  Nothing about her appearance gives you any indication of wealth.  She is wearing no jewelry.  Instead of expensive high heels, she stands in a basic pair of flats.  Her hair is simply pulled back behind her head.  Her looks in some ways are comparable to Chelsea Clinton's.

Ms. Grumet's right breast remains covered within her tank top, but it's ready to be put into service.  It's there to prove to those on the right that there is nothing wrong with Big Government.  Big Government is like your mother.  What she has to offer is good; it's nutritious; it will help you live longer, happier, and healthier.  There's a never-ending supply of what Big Government can provide.  Big Government is natural and green.  It can produce more of what you need without killing any animals or destroying the environment.

So come on, people on the right.  Look how happy the boy is on the left.  He won't be jealous if you join him.  He's learned that when you spread the breastmilk around, everyone is better off.

This was perfect timing by TIME Magazine for this timeless image.  Well done.  I'm looking forward to the cover for Vol.179, No. 21.

Marc Hopin is the author of a new children's book, The Tooth Fairy Needs Your Teeth.

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