Making A Clean Breast For a Social Cause, But Net Is Divided

The cover page of a magazine in Kerala showing a model breastfeeding a baby without covering her breast has won applause. But not all are happy.

A powerful cover picture of model Gilu Joseph in the Malayalam magazine Grihalakshmi showing her breastfeeding a child courageously by not covering her breast has won widespread applause including from UNICEF. It was aimed at ending the stigma on breastfeeding.

But some narrow-minded netizens have stirred a needless row. They see only Gilu’s breast, but fail to catch the message on breastfeeding.

The picture does not in any way sexualise breastfeeding. Gilu, who is also an airhostess and an aspiring poetess, gives a powerful stare and says right in your face: Get lost, do not stare at us while breastfeeding.

But some publicity seekers have rushed to courts. Complaints have been filed before a Kollam court and the Kerala State Child Rights Commission against Gilu.

Advocate Nobel Mathew said he filed a complaint in the Kollam Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court against the magazine and the model-actress Gilu Joseph.

“The case was filed yesterday before the CJM Kollam for offence under sects 3 and 4 of Indecent Representation of Women Act,” said Mathew.

This is no noble act from Nobel. It is just cheap publicity.

A complaint has also been filed before the Kerala State Commission for Child Rights for `fake feeding’ as Gilu is not married and does not have a child.

In the inside pages, the magazine carried the photos of Amritha, a 23-year-old Keralite homemaker breastfeeding her one-and-a-half-month-old daughter in a similar way.

In January, Amritha’s husband Biju, in his Facebook page, had shared a photo of her breastfeeding their child, urging to end the stigma attached to open breastfeeding.

In the article, titled ‘Don’t stare, we want to breastfeed’, the magazine also quotes a number of women from various walks of life including professionals and homemakers.

But Gilu, 27, is not bothered by the cases. She said she dedicated the pictures to all mothers who are “longing” to breastfeed their children freely and with pride.

“I will happily accept and celebrate all the possible criticism which would come in the name of this campaign and the pictures,” she said.

The model said though she was neither married nor had children, she had no hesitation in accepting the assignment for the cover-shoot when she got a call from Grihalakshmi.

Joseph said she was pretty sure that what she was doing was not wrong.

“Every mother should celebrate their motherhood. When I was called for the shoot, I had no hesitation. Do you think unmarried women cannot pose for breastfeeding shoots,” she asked.

“My stand is clear. If you are in a public place, do not worry to feed your child”, she said.

“We are ourselves responsible for attaching a lot of taboos to our body. Because we get so easily ashamed of our bodies, rape victims are continued to be shamed more than the perpetrators themselves,” Gilu said on Instagram,

The cover-picture has triggered a raging debate on social media. While a large number of people especially women supported the ‘bold’ and ‘progressive’ attempt by the magazine, some others criticised it for choosing a model for the cover-shoot instead of an ordinary mother.

Writer and activist Rahul Easwar described the magazine’s attempt as a ‘commercial gimmick’ in the name of breastfeeding. “This is the commercialisation of the human body,” he said.

Some trolls said it was obscene and vulgar.

Grihalakshmi is a magazine for women and a sister publication of Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhumi.


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