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Kerala model breastfeeds on magazine cover, debate rages on social media

Critics say the model, air hostess and poet Gilu Joseph, is not a mother and if the magazine, Grihalakshmi, really wanted to take up the cause of breastfeeding it should have carried a real mother and baby

india Updated: Mar 01, 2018 19:32 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Grihalakshmi,Gilu Joseph,Kerala model breastfeeding photo
Model Gilu Joseph posed for the Grihalakshmi cover. (Grihalakshmi)

A photo of a model breastfeeding a baby featured on the cover of Malayalam fortnightly magazine ‘Grihalakshmi’ has sparked debate,with one section lauding the magazine and the model but another saying that the innate mother-child bond was being used as a marketing tool.

The photo, perhaps the first such carried by an Indian magazine on its cover, is accompanied by a caption that reads: “Mothers tell Kerala_ Don’t stare we want to breastfeed.” Many on social media said the caption is more damaging than the photo as it gives an impression that “most people in Kerala are voyeurs.”

The critics also pointed out that the model, air hostess and poet Gilu Joseph, is not a mother and if the magazine really wanted to take up a cause it should have carried a real mother and baby. But the magazine stood its ground saying it was intended to promote breastfeeding and was planned as an International Women’s Day special.

The magazine’s editor Moncy Joseph said the inspiration for the cover came from a post on Facebook in which a man had shared the picture of his wife breastfeeding their baby. Though the husband and wife were subjected to severe bullying, they refused to move the post. “It was not expected to create such a storm. We want to give a message on breastfeeding on the eve of the Women’s Day,” he explained. He said the cover will help initiate a discussion on a woman’s right to breastfeed in public.

The model is also unmoved. “When I was approached with the work I did not think twice. It is the privilege of any woman/mother. I want to convey a message that there is nothing to ashamed if one has to feed her baby,” she said, adding thought her family did not support her doing the cover she enjoyed every bit of it.

“You decided to push a real mother actually breastfeeding her child to inner pages and portray a model holding a baby to her bare breast on your cover is where you delved into cheap sensationalism and exploitation,” wrote blogger Anjana Nayar in a post criticising the magazine.

“While one cannot vouch for the sincerity of the magazine’s purpose (breasts after all are used to market everything from bike to beverages), it is nevertheless necessary to examine the weight of the arguments made against the picture,” wrote Sowmya Rajendran in the News Minute. Malayalam writer Paul Zacharia said it was a trend-setter. “It was a bold step. It conveys the message properly,” he said.

First Published: Mar 01, 2018 19:29 IST