Image Description: The color photograph depicts a motorcross cyclist sitting astride a bike in full gear (including helmet) nursing a child, also in biking gear. Both appear to be Euro-American, with pale skin tones. The parent has long dark red-brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and the child has slightly curly white-blond hair in a bowl cut. The photograph is a close-up of the parent, child, and bike, but you can see the motorcross course in the background.
A few days after this image went live on Tumblr, I noticed a lot of people were liking and reblogging it (to-date the image has had over 300 “notes” since I posted it). Aside from the popularity of the image, what caught my attention was the additional commentary folks felt compelled to add when they re-blogged the photograph. I thought it was really telling what Tumblr folks felt necessary to criticize about the photograph (and about other peoples’ commentary). I share some of the comments below in a Q&A format, with my thoughts on each response.
To back-track each quotation to its original Tumblr blog, see the thread of notes below the original post.
Tumblr: “Except for that kid is like 3 and shouldn’t be breast feeding anymore.”
Anna: There were actually many people who had this concern, which I thought was really interesting as a response. I’m the eldest of three and my mother breastfed all of us until we were roughly 2 1/2-3 years old. Not exclusively, obviously, but alongside other forms of nourishment. LeLeche League International recommends that children be introduced to other forms of food in their first year, but affirms that “A mother and her baby should breastfeed for as long as they wish to breastfeed.”
Given that breastfeeding at “like 3” is not medically contraindicated, that means that the perception that the child in the photograph “shouldn’t” be breastfeeding is a socially-conditioned determination – and one I think is kinda fascinating to observe and think about. Why have we decided that toddlers are “too old” to breastfeed?
T: “How about not gendering people nonconsensually. not everyone who breastfeeds is a ‘mama'”
A: While I take this person’s point, the original post a blue milk identifies LeClan McMillan as a “her” (see original caption reproduced above), so I assume that the cyclist identifies as a woman/uses female pronouns. I did do a bit of searching online to find outside confirmation of this, but nothing came up. If you follow motorcross and know McMillan feel free to chime in in comments on hir self-identity.
T: “Hello badass mom, hello badass babyboy. Thumbs up all around.”
A: I’ve already responded to the gendering of the cyclist above, but I thought it was interesting that this person (and, actually, a number of others) assumed the child was a boy, despite the fact nothing in the original post indicated the child’s gender. Is it the colors the child is wearing? The haircut?
T: “not being a concern troll – breastfeeding on a motorcycle makes absolutely no sense. that’s like….paying bills on a motorcycle, or playing monopoly, or eating. the logistics baffle me”
A: Mostly I just love this one. Because I bet the person who wrote this comment has, on occasion, eaten a snack while driving, or stopped while on a bicycle ride to down a power bar. Sometimes when you’re out doing shit you get hungry (even when you’re a kid!), and you just gotta eat. When I look at this picture, that’s what I see. And I’m not sure why that’s baffling.
What about you, Harpies? What does this photograph say to you — and what do you think of the Tumblr responses?