A provocative photograph of a California woman nursing her three-year-old has caused a stir on social media and focused a storm of attention on Time Magazine, which featured the image on its latest cover.
The image of Jamie Lynn Grumet, a 26-year-old mommy blogger based in Los Angeles, was used to illustrate a profile of Dr. William Sears, a Southern California physician whose books on child-rearing have informed the parenting practices of a generation.
The picture is of Grumet standing up while her son – wearing camouflage pants that make him look older than his years – reaches up to nurse. It was released online Thursday, and will appear on the magazine's May 21 cover.
The furor over the picture comes just days after another Southern California woman complained that she was asked to stop breast-feeding her child at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“Barf,” Facebook member Jenna Hart wrote on the NBC4 Facebook page.
Within minutes of the image’s distribution, more than three hundred people commented on the page, revisiting classic arguments about whether women should nurse their children into toddlerhood – and whether they should do it in public.
The debate mirrors one that has raged for decades in California and elsewhere. It became so heated in the 1990s that the state legislature passed a measure making it illegal to ask a woman to cover up if she is nursing.
“I don’t care if all the earth mothers out there say it is the most natural thing to do,” wrote Facebook member Leslie-Ann Guiney. “I don’t want to see it.”
But Jane Anne Weal echoed the feelings of many when she wrote that breast milk is more healthful for children than cow’s milk or formula.
“A mom’s breasts will naturally produce milk for six years,” Weal wrote. “It is natural and best for everyone.”
Grumet, a mother of two who writes the blog "I am not the babysitter," was traveling Thursday and not available for comment. But her mother, Margie Morjig, spoke with NBC4's Cary Berglund.
Morjig said she "didn't think twice" about offering her own daughter the breast once or twice a day until she was about six.
"She's the most confident of all my children, because she got her needs met," Morjig told Berglund. "I just did what came naturally."