Nursing mothers may not have to endure the same unduly scandalized reactions they once did in the past, but breastfeeding in public remains a contentious issue in many circles. In a rare page one ode to motherhood and confrontation of the sexualization of the female body, the June issue of Elle Australia features model Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding her son Zion Clarke on the cover.
As things like that often are, the intimate moment between mother and son was a spontaneous addition to the photoshoot.
"This wasn't a contrived situation," says Elle Australia's editor-in-chief, Justine Cullen. "Zion needed a feed, Nicole gave it to him, and when we saw how beautiful they looked, we simply moved her onto the set."
Cullen wrote in her editor's note that Trunfio, reflecting her dewy joy in motherhood, told her:
When I saw the [subscriber] cover of me breastfeeding, which was unplanned and just natural, I teared up and thought, 'Wow this is such a special moment where my worlds have collided'.
In fact, Trunfio herself took to Facebook to declare her pride in the magazine cover, launching the hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding.
"There is nothing worse than a mother that is judged for feeding her hungry child in public," Trunfio wrote.
Though that cover photo will only appear on the subscribers issue — regular on-stands issues will feature a smiling Trunfio in a Prada dress — it has already been widely circulated on the Internet. Many lauded both Elle Australia and Trunfio for what they see as a step in the right direction toward normalizing breastfeeding, though there were some who criticized the magazine for only making the breastfeeding cover available to subscribers, most of whom are women.
Though similar covers have appeared before, Trunfio's photo was apparently the first time an Australian magazine featured a breastfeeding mom.
When is a woman's body not deemed a sexual object? As the hype surrounding Trunfio's photo demonstrates, public breastfeeding still remains a daring, unusual act, when, really, it is perhaps the most natural, normal maternal activity of all.
Cover image via Elle Australia.