12.28, 4 August 2010
I expect that models spend quite a lot of time being asked to get their breasts out, so perhaps it’s only fair that Gisele Bundchen
, a 30-year-old who specialises in looking beautiful for the cameras, has decided to turn the tables and tell other women to do the same.
‘Some people here [in the US] think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think “are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?”,’ she said in an interview with American magazine Harper’s Bazaar
‘I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.’
My first reaction to this suggestion was – understandably, I hope – one of spluttering protest.
‘You can’t go around inventing worldwide laws on a whim,’ I thought to
myself. ‘It’s just not practical. If it was, I’d have banned people from
letting their cats poo in my garden years ago. And at least I can
squirt water at cats if I see them at it. Turning the hose on women
bottle-feeding their babies might be trickier.’
Then came irritation at people who think that their own individual
experience somehow qualifies them as an expert. ‘I bet she wouldn’t have
a clue how to set up a randomised double-blind controlled trial to test
her hypothesis,’ I thought, smugly. ‘I mean, obviously I don’t know how
to do that either, but I do know that it’s generally a good idea to
listen to people who can, at least when it comes to health-related
Finally, though, I did what anyone confronted by random celebrity advice should do: I turned the page of my newspaper.
Breastfeeding update... 05/08/10
Model Gisele Bundchen created something of a furore earlier this week by suggesting that there should be a worldwide law forcing women to breastfeed for the first six months of their baby's life.
Today, however, she used her blog to explain and tone down her comments.
'My intention in making a comment about the importance of breastfeeding has nothing to do with the law,' she wrote. 'It comes from my passion and beliefs about children.
'It’s unfortunate that in an interview sometimes things can seem so black and white. I am sure if I would just be sitting talking about my experiences with other mothers, we would just be sharing opinions.
'I understand that everyone has their own experience and opinions and I am not here to judge. I believe that bringing a life into this world is the single most important thing a person can undertake and it can also be the most challenging.
'I think as mothers we are all just trying our best.'
It's hard to argue with that.
‘More women becoming virgins again with hymen replacement operations on the NHS’ trumpets the Daily Mail headline
, announcing the news that 30 women had their hymens reconstructed by the NHS last year.
Leaving aside the newspaper’s rather questionable
understanding of what it means to be a virgin, the article raises some
interesting questions. Why would anyone feel the need to get an
unnecessary bit of membrane stitched back together? Or, in some cases,
reconstructed using the vaginal lining? And why does the NHS pay for it
to be done?
The answer to the first bit is fairly
straightforward: women – mostly Muslim women, the article says – are
getting the operation so that, when they marry, their new husband and
family will think that they have not had sex before their wedding night.
This makes me want to shout with frustration in a way that’s far more
serious than Gisele and her breastfeeding statements. Women have an
absolute right to do what they choose with their bodies, even if some
cultures (or individuals) would rather that they didn’t. If an adult
woman wants to have loads of consensual sex with any adult she fancies,
then good for her. If she wants to stay a virgin until she’s married,
she should be free to do so.
By the same logic, I have to support any woman who
decides that she wants to get a hymenoplasty. But the reasons behind her
decision would worry me. The NHS will only fund this operation on the
basis of clinical need. In other words, its surgeons will only
reconstruct a hymen when it is necessary to secure the physical or
mental health of the patient.
This means that some women are so scared by the
thought of being unmasked as having been sexually active – or merely
being suspected of such behaviour after tearing their hymen playing
sport, for example – that they require surgery.
That’s not good.
That’s really not good.
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