Why regular moms need to see Olivia Wilde's breastfeeding photo

Before moms criticize the current photo of Olivia Wilde nursing her son in a Roberto Cavalli gown and Prada wedges, perhaps they should place her in the role of representative for all nursing moms.

Andy Kropa/Invision/AP
Actress Olivia Wilde attends the opening of the H&M Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York City on Tuesday, July 15.

Moms across the web are chatting up the picture of Olivia Wilde nursing her son Otis in the September issue of Glamour magazine. Ms. Wilde’s photo is the latest in a recent trend of celebrity nursing photos, among them Gwen Stefani on vacation in Switzerland to Giselle Bundchen in the stylist's chair preparing for a photo shoot, both shots posted by the celebrity moms to Instagram. 

This week marks World Breastfeeding Week, and the start of Breastfeeding Awareness Month in the US, meant to raise awareness of breastfeeding and support for mothers who choose to breastfeed. So, naturally, it seems that Glamour thought this a great time to chime in with their support (and hopes for magazine sales) by releasing her photos from the September issue.

Some have come out to criticize the celebrity moms’ pictures, pointing to some of the photos as unrealistic and too Hollywood, and that they don’t recognize the challenges of nursing for some mothers. Tuesday the New York Daily News wrote about Wilde’s photo, speaking to regular mothers who have had challenges with breastfeeding their own children and guilt associated to those challenges.

I will agree with many moms that there is no way I am ever going to look as glamorous as Wilde nursing in Glamour, especially since I can’t even manage a trip to the store to pick up more bananas, let alone a pair of Prada wedges to go with my daily apparel of t-shirts and jeans.

But, I think her picture is important for moms to see because it is out of the ordinary and it does remind us that breastfeeding is beautiful.

I will describe another picture for you – one of me nursing my own son. Imagine me sitting in a hotel room (we had just moved for a Navy assignment) with a 2-month old, wearing an old sweatshirt and pair of jeans with my hair in a knot on top of my head, no make-up, or even brushed teeth for that matter, covered in spit-up stains from previous feedings, looking around a room full of half-packed bags of all the belongings we could shove into our Honda CR-V. 

It was not glamorous. It was not even presentable, but it was a beautiful time in early motherhood. not because of how I looked, but because I was embracing the chaos and unpredictability that comes with being a parent. 

I think moms need to see breastfeeding in a glamorous setting with a beautiful mom, as we have in Wilde’s photo, to give us hope that no matter how messy, or frustrating, or guilt-inducing the act of breastfeeding tries to be, we can know that at its roots, it is a beautiful thing. 

I will consider Wilde and her celebrity mom counterparts as representatives for the rest of us, including those like me, whose Cavalli gown is currently in the wash, along with my favorite jeans.

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