Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Choosing the new cover for the Easy Guide to Breastfeeding

Did you know that the US Department of Health & Human Services' Office on Women's Health  produces a breastfeeding guide for new mothers? It is called the Easy Guide to Breastfeeding and it explains the benefits of breastfeeding and provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about nursing a baby. The publication will be updated soon and they are asking us to help them choose some new cover art. Here are the three choices.

It's hard to tell if this is one mom and one baby posed three different ways, but I don't think it is. I think it's at least two separate women. Either way, the options are limited to three separate images of a white mother and her white baby. Not even a little bit of diversity, Office on Women's Health? This is the edition of the guide that is labeled as for "all women." But all women are not white and there are plenty of women of other races and ethnicities who breastfeed. Why couldn't any of us be represented here?

OK, I know that the Office of Women's Health produces special editions of the guide aimed at African-American, Native American and Hispanic moms. Goodness knows I understand that there are issues specific to various communities that keep moms from breastfeeding and that it's important for those to be addressed. The editions for minority moms are getting a make-over, too. But why is that the edition that is supposed to be for all women can only feature a white woman on the cover?Is the thinking that white women won't understand this guide is for them too if there is a woman of color on the cover? If so, then why are women of color expected to be fine with only choosing from 3 white women? I guess we're supposed to be used to the fact that the default or the norm is white and if we want anything culturally sensitive or balanced, we must find the separate book with the woman of color on the cover?

 I have no idea if they are planning on having this same voting for the special editions, but even so I think this was a huge misstep, and one that hopefully will not be repeated when they update again. So what do you think, ladies? Do you find this to be as much of an EPIC FAIL on their part as I do? What would have been a smarter move?  A contest, but with at least one woman of color as an option? A cover with multiple ethnicities represented?

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