Thursday, August 5, 2010

Why I Find The Stir Annoying As Hell -- or My Response to the Giselle/Breastfeeding-Should-Be-A-Law Controversy


Supermodel extraordinaire.

Once-upon-a-time girlfriend to Leo, wife to NFL superstar Tom Brady. 

New mother.

And a member of the breastfeeding police force.

Okay, not exactly.

I used to dislike Giselle, for no other reason than that she's married to Tom Brady.  And I hated Tom Brady, because if you're from St. Louis you might remember that thing called a Super Bowl that he singlehandedly stole from the Rams and Kurt Warner back when he was a nobody. 

And then he quickly became a somebody and the Patriots went on to dominate the NFL while the St. Louis Rams marched into oblivion.

Okay, that may not be quite how it happened, and it's probably not be a good reason to dislike the woman, but in my mind, that's how it went.  Throw in the whole Bridget Moynahan debacle, and Tom and Giselle just didn't seem like people I should like. 

But then she went and had that natural home birth in a bathtub.  Which is something that I did too.  You can call me crazy -- lots of people have.

So, in my eyes, Giselle's stock went way up.  And I started to hate Tom Brady a little less.  It isn't every man who is secure enough and smart enough to see the benefits of home birth, or to support his wife in her desire to have one. 

For some reason, moms seem to bond with celebrities who are vocally supportive of their own parenting choices.  Or even with celebrity moms who are simply pregnant at the same time.  I could say something witty and insightful here about our country's national obsession with celebrity culture, but, hey, it is what is.  I didn't say that it's right.

So now, Giselle is in the news again, for stating that mandatory breastfeeding for six months should be a "worldwide law."  Now to be fair, I'm not sure exactly what her words were.  It was said during an interview, when words can be taken out of context.  But, man, has she been flamed. 

The Stir published a blog post entitled Why I Find Giselle Bundchen Annoying As Hell, which I hated and which tempted me to write my own blog post entitled Why I Find The Stir Annoying As Hell.  You can't criticize someone for being judgemental when you're in the midst of judging them yourself.  Giselle may not have expressed herself very well, but playing the "empty-headed supermodel" card is just lame. 

And, no, Linda Sharps, it was not Giselle's ATTITUDE that got her a complication-free birth.  Preparation and knowledge do, in fact, make a big difference in birth outcome, and Giselle's decision to labor at home went a long way in getting her the birth she wanted. 

Hers was not the decision of an empty-headed supermodel, thank you very much.

Okay, so now we know that I'm annoyed by the The Stir . . .

I'll be the first to admit that Giselle needs to choose her words more carefully.   I can completely understand why so many people have been offended by some of the things she has said; she doesn't appear to have a lot of tact.  And while I support breastfeeding to 6 months and beyond, I absolutely do not believe that women need any more pressure than they are already under. 

A breastfeeding law would do nothing but create more stress for new moms who are constantly told that "breast is best" but rarely given the support and information that they need to breastfeed successfully.  Women in our culture are caught in a catch-22, and silly statements from celebrities, even celebrities I like or agree with, don't help the situation.

Although I also don't understand the thinking of one commenter who said that after hearing Giselle, it "makes her want to formula-feed."  Come on, trying to stick it to a celebrity who doesn't even know you exist is not a good enough reason to use formula.  It's just not.   

In response to all the controversy, Giselle has issued a statement on her blog, clarifying what she meant.  Giselle writes:

"My intention in making a comment about the importance of breastfeeding has nothing to do with a law.  Becoming a new mom has brought a lot of questions, I feel like I am in a constant search for answers on what might be best for my child."      

So I'm conflicted as to what my ultimate response to this whole situation should be.  I agree with most of what I think Giselle has meant to say, though I don't think that she has articulated herself very well.  She has come across as judgemental in many situations.  I don't like that. 

But I do like hearing from celebrity moms who parent in a less than mainstream way.  And I do think that she should be allowed her opinion.

Because, in the end, it's just that.  An opinion.  From a woman who is new to motherhood and still trying to figure it out.  A woman whose thoughts and feelings really have no bearing on my life or yours. 

As moms, we get opinions from everybody -- our mother-in-law, the busybody neigbour down the street, and, yes, celebrities.  But I stopped listening to my mother-in-law years ago.

And if you don't like what a celebrity says, you can stop listening to her too.


FertileFem said...

Completely agree! Well said. I also wonder if it wasn't perhaps a little bit to do with English not being her first language. Who knows. But really, who CARES?!

Dagmar said...

Hey, thank you for linking to and mentioning my blog!

I agree, she didn't express herself in the best way, but I guess I'm kind of glad that breastfeeding is in the news. I hope more women will get more information about it and will be encouraged to try it. That's what we need more of: the right info, resources, and cheerleaders!

Dagmar's momsense

Melodie said...

I think it must have been one of those things you say that seems like a good idea at the time until people start flaming you and you realize that there is a lot more to it and that you shouldn't have opened your big celebrity mouth. I'm not good at following celebrity news so thanks for bringing my attention to this. They certainly do know how to rock the boat.

Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen said...

When I first started to breastfeed, like many new lactivists, I was hell-bent on the WHO code and loved the idea of formula being by RX-only and, you know, I bet I would have warmed up to Gisele's breastfeeding law a little bit more, BUT, there's just so much more at play than what initially meets the eye. We can't have a breastfeeding law until our medical establishment and society are less squeamish about breasts and more supportive of nursing mothers and babies. And by the time that happens, you know, we won't need a breastfeeding law because it will be the cultural norm.