Weissingerising

Hoyden About Town commented on my recent link to 50 things you should know about feeding babies that the article needed “Weissingerising”. I absolutely agree, but it occurred to me that many people won’t know what we’re going on about.

Dianne Weissinger wrote a powerful article about the way we talk about breastfeeding – instead of saying that breastfeeding is “ideal”, we should be saying that breastfeeding is “normal”. Why? Because none of us see ourselves as ideal parents. “Trying Hard” parents, “Good Enough” parents maybe, but ideal, perfect, these concepts are too hard for most parents in the day to day reality of parenting, especially in the early days.

Also, as with any health message, it is better to talk about the risks of not breastfeeding than the benefits of breastfeeding. Can you imagine how many ex-smokers would still be smoking if the anti smoking campaigns were built around warm fuzzy images of healthy lungs instead of scary images of dead and diseased ones?

And we all now how I feel about patronising mothers by not telling them the truth about the risks of formula feeding….

4 thoughts on “Weissingerising”

  1. I think you’re absolutely right that people need to be fully informed, but in the current environment where a facts-based, unemotive “risks of not BFing” is interpreted as “oh you terrible mother!” by many, I think it’s going to stir the pot and keep generating this negative attitude, unfortunately. But you are right that stepping about the issue rather than confronting it is patronising everyone in order to save the feelings of the oversensitive.

    Of course, if we had a public health campaign where real information was presented *along with* information about and a culture supportive about HOW to BF, I think it’d be an entirely different story.

    We can dream 🙂

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    1. Yet I have seen research about a breastfeeding campaign that did use scare tactics and was very successful. You’re right in that there are inherent dangers in using scare tactics, but that doesn’t mean that they are always inappropriate.

      And I’m also not saying that we should throw out the baby with the bathwater, and switch 100% to scare campaigns, but if there were a radical paramilitary arm of the Le Leche League (for example), they would serve to make the moderates look more reasonable – like PETA does for animal welfare!

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