Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Notable Women of 2012- Jamie Grumet (Part Four of Five)

                                                                                                              photo credit

Jamie Grumet is a twenty-six year old mother of two who appeared on the cover of Time magazine last May. The focus was a story on attachment parenting, a philosophy of raising children which encourages parents to be more attuned to their children's needs.  

The magazine sparked controversy in its decision to use a photo showing her four year old son Aram standing on a stool while she breastfed him. While this picture was taken during the shoot, Jamie and her husband were not aware it would appear on the cover and were never consulted. The additional tag line, "Are You Mom Enough?" incited public outrage. 

Jamie felt, as did many, that the intent of the cover was to create a 'mommy war' pitting mothers who nurse against those who don't.  The media ran with this and spun the story to appear that Jamie was forcing the ideas of attachment parenting on others, when in fact she was always pro choice in how people should raise their children. 

This has a personal side for me. Last May when I first heard about this story I decided to do some research, since I had never heard of attachment parenting. Specifically I was unfamiliar with extended breastfeeding, which is nursing a child beyond its first year of infancy. 

Along the way I ended up contacting Jamie to learn about the story through her own words. I realized that she and her family were misrepresented by most of the coverage they received. There was little mention of their son Samuel, whom they adopted in Ethiopia. There was no mention of her work with the Fayye Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the orphan crisis in the Sidama area of Ethiopia. In general the media focused on her looks and attacked the concept of extended breastfeeding rather than presenting it as one alternative of many to raising children. 

Jamie Grumet is in our list not only because she is a loving mother but because of the way she chose to handle attacks by the media and the public. We've become friends, and I've grown to learn that the way she and her family have been portrayed is not who they really are. Her courage and grace are an inspiration.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Notable Women of 2012- Jennifer Livingston (Part Three of Five)

  In late September, Jennifer Livingston of WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wisconsin received an e-mail from a viewer. The subject line was 'Community Responsibility' and it was written by Kenneth Krause, who took exception to her weight. In it he said, "It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle".

  Jennifer tried her best to "laugh off the very hurtful attack on my appearance," but with the encouragement of her colleagues she went on air to discuss it: "The truth is I am overweight. You can call me fat and yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart. To the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don’t know that? Your cruel words are pointing out something I don’t see? You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family, and you admitted that you don’t watch this show so you know nothing about me besides what you see on the outside– and I am much more than a number on a scale…To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face, listen to me right now. Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience, that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many."

  When this story broke Jennifer received an outpouring of support. Kenneth Krause, the man who wrote the e-mail apologized shortly afterwards, saying he didn't intend to offend her and he's battled weight issues most of his life.

  Whether or not she was bullied has been debated. Regardless, Jennifer Livingston makes our list because she used a negative situation to gracefully and constructively pass her message of self-worth on to others.

Reference:  Forbes article