Tuesday 12 December 2017

Colette Fitzpatrick: Breastapo tell us 'breast is best', but bottle mums aren't a menace to society

Breastfeeding warning
Breastfeeding warning
Mum breastfeeding her baby
Jennifer Lawrence
Ben Affleck
Jennifer Garner
A woman applying make-up

It's World Breast Feeding Week, so it's time for the militant bottle feeders to take on the breastapo. Well, that's generally how these things roll when breastfeeding is in the news.

There's no doubt about it. Breastfeeding is better for babies than formula. Everyone agrees on that. The big question is how much better?

The other question is whether or not studies showing it benefits babies suffer from selection bias.

In other words, when a study states that breast-fed babies go on to have higher IQs, live longer, earn more and are less likely to suffer from a range of illnesses, was it because of the type of women who took part in that study?

Were they healthy, intelligent women in the first place? Would their children have gone on to be intelligent and earn more regardless?


Maybe the breast milk wasn't solely responsible for the better outcomes, but other factors.

Well-reported studies in South America and Africa that showed that formula-fed babies were more likely to die were false.

Turns out the mothers were using contaminated water or rationing formula because it was so expensive.

There seems to be a narrative about breast feeding that thinly disguises pressure to breastfeed as 'support'.

The pro-breastfeeders are claiming that more people would do it, if they got 'support'. But the vast majority of non-breastfeeding mums that I know did so not because there was a lack of support but because they made a well-informed decisions that it wasn't for them.

Most of them felt obliged to tell everyone that they couldn't or weren't able to though, in case they got abuse hurled at them.

There's also a sniffy, middle-class-looking-down-their-nose-at-the-working-class, element to this debate. The 'we know better' set.

I think if there was a study asking all women, the working class ones and the middle class ones, why they didn't breast feed, we would find that it wasn't that they were ignorant of the benefits.

Rather it would find that breast-feeding was another pressure on top of minding other kids, rearing sick kids, caring for sick relatives or raising children on their own.

Or maybe that many mums just want to exercise control over their own bodies. Or that they are big believers in dads getting in on the bonding act.

Maybe they wanted sanity and independence.

There is no doubt that 'breast is best', but it feels like bottle feeding is being billed as a menace to society.

Breast feeding is not a one-size-fits-all elixir for your baby. You don't just do it like popping a vitamin. It may be 'free', but are we saying a woman's time is worth nothing?

I wish we could also concentrate on other important parenting issues. And move on from this divisive aspect of mothering. That's the type of support we could all use.

Women in movies are paid unfairly - but let's not just focus on the superstars

Jennifer Lawrence

Sandra Bullock has topped the list of Hollywood's highest-paid female actors. The Gravity star earned an estimated $51m (€47m) between June 2013 and June 2014.

But there's still a massive gender pay gap in Tinsletown. The 10 top earning actors brought in a combined $419m (€383m), but the top 10 actresses earned a little over half of that, $226m (€207m). That's despite the fact that female-led blockbusters are as popular as male-led.

There are still those who say that a pay gap exists generally because women take time out of their careers to care for children, choose less demanding jobs or fail to negotiate for higher salaries as vigorously as their male counterparts. But in Hollywood you have women with no children, such as Jennifer Lawrence, who have people negotiating on their behalf and yet are still paid less than their male co-workers.

Lawrence has power to get what she wants and yet she still earned far less than Bradley Cooper in American Hustle. As did Amy Adams.

The pay gap in Hollywood isn't just about the (let's face it) mostly white women who get paid gazillions. It exists at every level in the industry. The Women's Media Centre reports that since 1998, women's representation in behind-the-scenes roles other than directing has gone up - by a miserable 1pc.

Women directed the same percentage of the 250 top-grossing films in 2012 (just 9pc) as they did in 1998.

The fact is that women who work equally hard and contribute as much to their fields are still paid a fraction of their male colleagues' salaries.

It's a pity though that privileged white actresses don't use their platform as celebrities to talk about the pay gap of their colleagues lighting their sets and doing their make-up, as opposed to just talking about earning millions more for themselves.


Some People just love others' misery

Ben Affleck

I see the latest issue of People magazine has Jennifer Garner (left) on the cover with details of her 'heartbreak' after her split from Ben Affleck.

The magazine, of course, is disingenuous - because the story's all about the denial of an affair with a nanny. Of course, the Bennifer saga is great copy for celebrity mags.

Those readers who love being judgemental about (and being consumed with) celebrities like Garner and Affleck will be lapping all this up.

All the right buzzwords are there: 'fling', 'ultimate betrayal', 'sources confirming', etc. Ideal for those wanting to dissect someone else's marriage - just so they can feel a little bit better about their own.


Red, puffy eyes? It's bang on trend

A woman applying make-up

It used to be that you would have tricks and tips on how to hide your hangover with make-up.

Now #HangoverMakeup is a hashtag, highlighting the practice of women making their eyes look red and puffy on purpose. Then they post the pictures on social media. There are even tutorials on how to look hungover.

The trend originated in Asia, where some women draw little bags under their eyes, a practice known as 'aegyo-sal' - which roughly translates as 'eye smiles' or 'cute skin'.

In parts of Asia, a little puffy eye is believed to be a sign of youthfulness.

So now, instead of sleeping in your makeup, you make a fresh face look like it's been slept on.

Better for your skin - and it's nice to know that if you're actually hungover, you're bang on trend.

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