The biggest problem with The Leaky Boob’s lie


Last Friday’s post on The Leaky Boob’s lie has generated a lot of discussion about Jessica Martin-Weber and her lie that she exclusively breastfed 6 children while the reality was that she often used bottles and sometimes used formula.

There are lots of problems with that lie, but one problem is bigger than all the others.

First the small problems:

1. It is wrong to lie

That pretty much goes without saying. Lying is not a good way to relate to others. It is a fundamental violation of their trust and has long term consequences. People will be much less likely to trust you going forward.

2. It is wrong to hold yourself out as a role model

Our heroes have feet of clay; that’s hardly news, but it is still disappointing. That’s why anyone who presumes to hold herself out as a lactivist hero as Martin-Weber did should be very sure that she is modeling the behavior that she extols. Martin-Weber knew the entire time that she was presenting herself as a hero, she was actually engaging in the very behavior she was ostentatiously condemning in print.

3. It is wrong to value process over outcome

Of course this is standard operating procedure for natural childbirth advocates and lactivists. Instead of judging their mothering skills by how their children turn out (which raises the possibility that they might not end up being declared perfect mothers), they evaluate their mothering skills by comparison with an arbitrary ideal. That way they can preen of their motherly perfection without the pesky need to wait until their children grow up and see how they turn out.

But most importantly:

4. The Leaky Boob’s Lie demonstrates that lactivism isn’t about breastfeeding, and it isn’t even about babies. It’s about mothers and their own self-image.

Why was Jessica Martin-Ellis writing about her breastfeeding experiences in the first place? It wasn’t to benefit her children since they couldn’t care less how random strangers view their mother. And it wasn’t to help other mothers with their breastfeeding difficulties since Martin-Weber refused to be honest about her own.

Martin-Weber was writing (dishonestly) about her breastfeeding experiences in order to bask in the adulation of strangers and boost her own self-esteem. That’s because lactivism isn’t about feeding and it isn’t about babies. It’s about some women trying to convince themselves that they are better than other women and grossly inflating the benefits and value of breastfeeding in order to do it. Breastfeeding isn’t that important to babies, but it’s desperately important to lactivists.

Lactivism is about image and new mothers would benefit greatly by realizing that. No mother should feel guilty about breastfeeding, because it is trivial in the overall scheme of child rearing. Those who wish to convince you differently have their OWN best interests at heart, not yours and not your children’s. In fact, they are so concerned about their own interests that they are willing to lie to maintain those interests.