On December 26th, actor Alyssa Milano posted this beautiful and loving picture of a mama and her baby on her Instagram account, and the internet shit itself, as it is wont to do when people post their own pictures on their own social media accounts that reflect their own lives and their own opinions.
The internet then had a bird again a week later when Alyssa went on the Wendy Williams show, and Wendy herself admitted she had a problem with the picture, and went on to say she knew that hers was an unpopular opinion – more on the breastfeeding and Wendy’s opinion in a minute.
I think people are getting up in arms about the wrong part of the interview. I did not see the video until today; in fact, when I started watching it, I stopped it about two minutes in because I was angry already and they hadn’t even begun talking breastfeeding.
It went straight to weight. Wendy started the conversation about Alyssa’s baby weight, and how she lost it, and did she feel pressure to lose it, etc. I understand that to remove the stigma from something we bring it out into the light and examine it, and take away the mystery; I get this theory, I really do.
But wait a second; let’s think about this for a minute. By constantly bringing up weight, or the pressure to lose or to be the right weight, or that we even have to get rid of the voluptuous havens that grew, nurtured, and fed our babies for nine months at all, are we not just continuing to make women feel like being their weight is more important than anything else they are or do?
I am all for healthy living. In fact, I will be restarting my own journey to better health very soon (that will all be documented on my blog, watch for it!) because I understand that having a high body mass index means I will suffer from other consequences like high blood pressure, leg issues, cardiac problems, and so on. Spoiler alert: health ≠ size. Just ask Jessamyn Stanley, who is my new superhero, by the way.
Living in a healthy body is important, regardless of what size that body is. The conversation needs to be steered AWAY from size, and towards health. Size should never equate attractiveness, and should never, ever be the thing that defines a person.
I decided to hang off on blasting this opinion out into the Twitterverse until I had watched the whole clip (read: until I had more opinions to yell about). I am glad I did, because I was ready to go off on Ms. Williams for her ridiculousness, but guess what: I don’t believe she is.
Here’s the thing: Wendy is not new to television talk shows. She is not new to journalism, or to being around celebrities. She is not new to the media game, and neither is Alyssa. If it was me on the receiving end of Williams’ comments, believe me, I would not have been so calm or collected.
Alyssa was both, and for two reasons: a.) she knew the questions and comments were coming, because don’t kid yourself, that’s how these interviews go; and b.) she knew that Wendy was taking that stance because devil’s advocate is what talk show hosts do best.
The interview is playful. It’s not controversial, it’s not angry, and Wendy is stating the (un)popular opinion of so many people in a way that highlight’s it’s misogynistic stupidity, not in a way that she intends to defend it to the death. I don’t mean that is not her opinion, per se, but she is not defending her stance in a way that makes me believe she actually feels that way. I mean, seriously – she said FUNBAGS.
So, in short, I don’t hate on Wendy, and I am not infuriated. I think Wendy did a bang-up job of illuminating the ridiculous opinions surrounding breastfeeding, and Alyssa did a wonderful job of playing to that and came back with all the right answers.
For the record, I wholeheartedly agree with Alyssa, and if that really is Wendy’s opinion (which she is completely entitled to!!), then we have a very long road ahead of us in normalizing breastfeeding.
Watch the video below. What do you think??