Thursday, September 1, 2011

The girls, they just want to have fun!

After teaching Anthropology of Reproduction at 12noon, I sat down with my Kashi Pesto Pasta Primavera for lunch and read this article on the NYT: "Nursing Bras That Show Mothers in More Than ‘Work Mode’."

On the one hand, I am all for recognizing the woman in the mother and letting the girls get dressed up. Why should nursing bras be unattractive and otherwise unappealing to wear?

On the other hand, I find statements like this a tad irritating:

“As soon as you have the baby, nobody looks at you anymore,” Ms. Dimond said. “This is to treat yourself.”

I wish that the woman in the mother did not place quite so much significance in being looked at.

Even more troubling is this statement:

“Another driver is the rapid growth in size, influence and power of online mommy culture.”

As a parenthropologist, I could go on and on about the referencing of "mommy" and "culture," but the point that I wish to make is about commodification. To a certain extent, breastfeeding can be said to exist "outside" market economics (or at least is constructed to be free and "pure" of all that, which itself can have consequences both positive and negative for women who "succeed" or "fail" to breastfeed...) The making of a new market of glam and sexy nursing bras appears to me an attempt to commercialize what previously had been apparently uncommercializable. You cannot sell or buy the milk itself, but you can produce and consume commercial goods that accompany breastfeeding. You can make a commodity of the experience of breastfeeding.

It is true that women's breasts themselves long have been fetishized and commodified. The fact that lactating women's breasts, too, now are subject to it all... Is this really progress?

1 comment:

  1. I myself was amazed at the hidden costs of breastfeeding. Once you get into breast pumps, gear to clean the parts, store the milk, nursing pads, and yes, nursing bras, you've spent quite a bit of money. And that's not including the cost of any problems you may have--like thrush, or trouble breastfeeding.