Elle Takes off the Cover

Elle Takes off the COverIn June of this year, fashion magazine Elle Australia graced its subscribers with a special cover: one of a model breastfeeding her baby. The model, Nicole Trufino, was said to be taking a break from shooting to nurse her baby boy, when the photographer noticed how beautiful she looked, moved her into the set, and the rest is history.

This is one of the very first times a breastfeeding mother has appeared on the cover of a high-fashion magazine, however accidental it might have been. It signifies many things: a shift in perception of the normalcy of breastfeeding and motherhood, the idea that a beautiful model could also be a mother, the raw honesty of the nursing relationship between mother and babe being shown in the media, and perhaps even a shift on the view of nudity and women.

However, this cover was viewed only by subscribers until the cover went viral. The magazine has received a backlash of comments, mostly defending why the cover should have become mainstream instead of subscriber-only.

They received so much backlash that Elle Australia editor Justine Cullen had to issue a statement saying that, her decision was a “commercial” one and her job is to sell magazines. And choosing a cover that “will appeal to the widest possible audience” is how the industry does that.

Cullen said she wasn’t willing to take the risk of the breastfeeding cover being pulled from shelves or it needing a sticker over a part that was deemed offensive. That, she said, “would spell disaster.” She went on to say that as supermarkets are a large portion of their sales, this was not the place to make a statement. They wouldn’t want the cover to be censored by the sales places, to be unable to sell the magazine.

Maybe Elle could have sent the cover out on its regular issue, showing Ms.Trufino’s nursing loveliness for the world to see. Possibly more nursing mothers would have responded to this positive media example of breastfeeding.

Do you think the magazine should have circulated the cover to its full readerships? Are you encouraged by Ms. Trufino’s photo, and applaud the exposure of nursing, or should it be censored out of concern for those who may take offense?

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom of three boys ages 5 years, 3 years and 8 months. She lives and laughs in Portland, Oregon where she spends her time gardening, knitting, chasing boys and baking. 

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