So I really wasn’t going to wade in on this – there’s plenty of vitriol and defence for Jamie Oliver in the Mummy Blog sphere already, but I guess I feel the need to put my twopence in too…
Dear Jamie Oliver.
First off, I’m sorry you’re getting a lot of hate and heat off what was probably an off the cuff comment. But you have wandered into an imaginary battlefield and one with a lot of unhealed wounds.
I’m glad you’re all for support – god knows there are thousands of women out there who have been crying out for it and going unheard. You’re a public figure, renowned for getting shit done when it comes to public health, so perhaps your voice will be louder than all these women collectively begging for better assistance.
But there is something so smug and patronising about your awful choice of words which means a lot of those women you claim to want to help feel like they’ve just been punched in the gut.
Breastfeeding is only easy if it is easy – and for some women it is. However, for a lot more it is incredibly difficult, agonisingly painful, even detrimental to their mental health. And for a man to pop his head up and claim that we should all be breastfeeding because it’s easy makes those women see red.
When I read your comments I got cross. I’m one of those women who for a catalogue of reasons turned to formula feeding very early on. I won’t go on about it, but you can read our story here if you’re interested. But now I can see that we want the same thing: less women being failed by the systems that are supposed to help them.
We need a change in approach to breastfeeding support – there should be far less pressure to do it and more actual support available to show women how with sympathy and understanding, and maybe you can be the one to help enact that change.
But while you’re at it, please don’t add fuel to the ridiculous Mummy Wars by building on imaginary divides. There’s nothing wrong with formula, it’s pretty awesome if you actually think about it.
If women want to breastfeed then every effort should be made to help them, without demonising those who choose formula instead.
With all divisive topics, it can be hard to see your opponents point of view. But I’m not sure you have any opponents here – you have a lot of women who want to be on your side. You just need to go the right way about it.
A slight aside: I’ve been reading some of the tweets sent regarding this issue, mainly to Jamie himself. People seem to be getting confused, and the “lactivists” have been jumping on their high horses saying any backlash to his comments show how attitudes to breastfeeding in the UK are awful. They’re not, and this isn’t an issue of pro or anti breastfeeding. It’s an issue of support and respect for new mums, regardless of how they feed their child.