Olivia Wilde's Breastfeeding Photo Causes a Stir

Beth Greenfield
·Senior Editor
olivia wilde
olivia wilde

(Photo courtesy of Glamour)

Gisele Bundchen, Jaime King, Gwen Stefani, and Miranda Kerr are among the celebrity moms who have helped glamorize breastfeeding recently — and now, with her buzz-inducing mom-and-baby photo image included in a spread for Glamour, cover girl Olivia Wilde has joined their proudly lactating ranks. “Breastfeeding is the most natural thing,” she told the magazine, regarding the pose in which she’s wearing a Roberto Cavalli dress and Prada shoes while nursing her naked infant son. “I don’t know, now it feels like Otis should always be on my breast.” Wilde added, ”Being shot with Otis is so perfect because any portrait of me right now isn’t complete without my identity as a mother being a part of that.”

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It was a fitting message coming from Wilde, film star and former cast member of “The O.C.,” who seems to be a champion of maternal health around the world, judging by her appearance at UN Global Moms + Social Good Conference this past spring. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) encourages breastfeeding for at least six months, and Wilde’s son is already 5 months old. The timing of the image couldn’t have been better: We’re in the midst of World Breastfeeding Week, during which the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, with the support of WHO and UNICEF, is busy promoting the health benefits of nursing in 175 countries around the world.

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Plus, just last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its annual Breastfeeding Report Card (with stats from 2011, the most recent available). It found that the percentage of babies who start out breastfeeding is continuing to rise — just over 79 percent in 2011 — but that it quickly declines, with 49 percent still nursing at 6 months and just 27 percent by the end of their first year (so kudos, Ms. Wilde). And Wilde’s state of residence, California, ranks at the top when it comes to the percentage of infants that start out nursing — 92.8 percent — as well as those who are still being exclusively breastfed at 3 months, with 56.1 percent in that category.

Wilde’s Glamour photo has been enthusiastically received on Twitter, where she’s been called “stunning,” “glamorous,” and “my hero.” It’s also where Wilde herself thanked the magazine for “knowing there’s nothing indecent about feeding a hungry baby.”

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In the Glamour photo caption, Wilde notes that she is happy with the message her breastfeeding image sends — but also admits she doesn’t always look so picture perfect. “It felt like we were capturing that multifaceted woman we’ve been discussing — that we know we can be. You can be someone who is at once maternal and professional and sexy and self-possessed,” she said. “[But] I mean, I certainly don’t really look like that when I’m [typically] breastfeeding. And there’s usually a diaper involved.”

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