A Victoria's Secret star's model breast-feeding

Orlando Bloom shoots intimate image of wife Miranda Kerr with their son -- and the Internet voices support


Mary Elizabeth Williams
January 19, 2011 9:05PM (UTC)

You don't have to look too far on the Internet to find images of Miranda Kerr showing some skin. She is, after all, a Victoria's Secret model.  But a fairly modest image of domestic bliss, shot by husband Orlando Bloom, is rapidly becoming the most buzzed-about image of the Australian beauty. In it, she smiles sleepily in bed, her robe partially open -- while infant son Flynn nuzzles contentedly at her breast.

That's right -- these things aren't just for filling out sweaters, slipping out at awards shows, and good times with close friends.  Though it's easy to forget in our cleavage-obsessed culture, breasts are what put the mamm in mammals. But while Kim Kardashian's bralessness is headline-making news and Olivia Munn's assets are the highlight of her talk show appearances, a woman using her rack for something other than an attention-getting accessory is often met with everything from discomfort to outright hostility. In 2007, Bill Maher famously ranted that "breast-feeding is an intimate act, and I don't want to watch strangers performing intimate acts." Earlier this month, Facebook found itself in the midst of yet another controversy regarding its absurd knee-jerk response to breast-feeding photos when it deleted -- twice -- the page for the Leaky B@@b support group for violation of terms of service. And the public appetite for stories about Natalie Portman's pregnancy or John Travolta's new baby or who looks like she's sporting a baby bump this week is damn near insatiable. But the beauty of breasts and their usefulness in parenting rarely cross paths in the public eye.

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How lovely then not just that Kerr posted a blissful photo that sweetly evokes those magical early bonding days with a baby, but that the picture has been nonchalantly picked up by major entertainment news outlets with barely a hint of squeamishness. Both People and OK! posted the photo, along with Kerr's message from her blog that "I gave birth to him naturally; without any pain medication and it was a long, arduous and difficult labour, but Orlando was with me the whole time supporting and guiding me through it."

It wouldn't be the Internet if a few people didn't have negative opinions, summed with the classic, "I would NEVER breastfeed in public...we are humans not animals" and " it's a private thing...so let's keep it private!" Yet the outpouring of huzzahs for the beautiful photo, Kerr's honesty about drug-free childbirth and for the mainstream media for having the gumption to carry it suggests that maybe we're maturing culturally about breasts. As one reader gushed, "Wonderful to see a breastfeeding mother in People!"

It's true, breasts can be eye candy and baby food. They can fill out a Victoria's Secret push-up and inspire other nursing mothers. Yay, multitasking! Our bodies -- even the sexy parts -- aren't designed for just one purpose all the time, and the idea that breast-feeding was something to be hidden away from the eyes of the world was always a lot of hooey anyway. And if Miranda Kerr can proudly demonstrate that so beautifully, with such enthusiastic support, maybe there's hope someday for even Bill Maher.

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Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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