‘Time’ Editor on Breastfeeding Image Controversy

'I'm hoping this will sell well.'

Last week Time was Magazine of the Year; this week it’s getting buzz for a very different reason: a cover showing a young mom breastfeeding her 3-year-old boy.

Critics have been tweeting away, and a few advertisers and retailers might object to the photo that accompanies a story about attachment parenting. (Time said it doesn’t share its cover with advertisers and retailers ahead of time.)

But Time managing editor Richard Stengel defended the cover against criticism that it was a cheap shot and didn’t represent the story. “The image has its own whimsical side,” he said. “The little boy is looking at the camera, the woman is slightly bemused. I bet he’s proud to be on the cover." Separately, he said, "I’m hoping this will sell well.”

He could have gone further: One of the less tame photos under consideration was that of a woman breastfeeding both of her twins at once.

Major retailers like Hudson News and Kroger have covered up magazines like Cosmopolitan and FHM that they consider unusually provocative, but Gil Brechtel, president of Magazine Information Network, which tracks retail sales of magazines, said he didn’t expect Time to get much negative reaction because bookstores and terminals are its predominant sellers and their operators are less likely to object. 

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