Does this magazine cover make you squirm? Why it was censored

The editor of the parenting magazine, Hip Mama, wanted to use a recent cover to make a strong statement supporting breastfeeding in public, but the effort was derailed before going to print.

Vendors disagreed with veteran editor Ariel Gore’s choice of artwork and threatened not to carry the issue on their newsstands, according to Gore’s account in the Huffington Post.

The pushback started when Gore posted a preview of the cover in an April Facebook post showing a striking portrait of photographer Ana Alvarez-Errecalde in a superhero mask breastfeeding her son. Although many in social media liked the photo and its placement on the cover of a parenting magazine ( seen below), others found it too provocative.

hip mama2
Unedited version of cover

“This isn’t Europe,” Gore quoted one magazine distributer as saying. “Open breastfeeding is not OK.”

The picture showed the mother’s bare breast, including her nipple.

Facebook eventually pulled the picture, citing nudity and triggering an objection from Project Censored, an established anti-censorship group, which wrote on Facebook:

Ariel Gore’s Hip Mama Magazine was censored on FB for putting an image of a breastfeeding super mom on the cover feeding her super kid (dressed as Spiderman). FB censored the image (which shows the child breastfeeding), and now newsstands want to censor it, too. There is no shortage of breast pics on the newsstands, on billboards, and storefronts plastered for all to behold, and they are deemed acceptable, normalized (and promoted because sex sells)…but if breasts are shown for what they are actually for- nurturing children- censors abound. America the Dumb. Support Ariel Gore’s Hip Mama (and Tomas Moniz’s rad dad zine, a zine on radical parenting). Know censors. No censorship.

The magazine ran the cover photo with a red dot over the exposed breasts, assuaging vendors’ concerns, Gore said in the Huffington Post piece.

Based on much of the Facebook feedback, though, the controversy centered more on the age of the child in the photo than the nudity or the issue of public breastfeeding.

Gore said it’s unfortunate that the sight of a 4-year-old breastfeeding comes as a shock to Americans, writing in the Post:

Estimates for the worldwide age of weaning range from about 2 and a half to 4 and a half. In the United States, however, the average age for weaning is 3 months. American attitudes about breasts and breastfeeding have to be at least partially to blame.

TIME Magazine addressed the issue in 2012 with a photo of mother Jamie Lynne Grumet nursing her then-3-year-old son, and added the intentionally incendiary tagline “Are You Mom Enough?”

The magazine appeared to get the attention it was looking for, with or without the dot.

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