Piri Weepu, an international rugby player who won the World Cup with the All Blacks in 2011, got caught in a media storm when outraged “lactivists” demanded that scenes of him bottle-feeding his 6-month old daughter, Taylor, be cut from a Government ad campaign.
The campaigners, from La Leche League, persuaded the country’s Health Sponsorship Council to edit the image out of the ad with their chief executive Alison Stanton saying the advert showed those behind the funding and making of the commercial “do not understand the issues around promoting, protecting and supporting breast-feeding” according to reports from New Zealand.
Although the ad was never aired, it seems La Leche may themselves have something to learn about “promoting, protecting and supporting” breast-feeding as the decision generated a flurry of negative media headlines and “outraged” both Piri’s supporters and families all over the country who had used formula were outraged according to New Zealand’s Natural Parenting magazine.
According to one marketing expert writing in The American Thinker the move to control the message on breastfeeding has damaged the important cause La Leche League exists to promote.
He said: “This story has appeared on the Today Show, on MSNBC’s website, and on more than 6,000 internet sites around the world, tarring La Leche Leagues worldwide with an extremist brush. While it “won” the issue, New Zealand’s La Leche League is now caught up in a publicity firestorm. It’s too soon to know just how much this has hurt the cause of breastfeeding — not to mention the advocate groups’ ability to raise money, in the U.S. and around the world, as well as in New Zealand.”
According to Suzanne McFadden in The New Zealand Herald:
“Weepu was blasted last month for feeding his baby daughter” and “pro-breastfeeding groups, in turn, were stiff-armed for their ‘anti-father sentiment’.” Opinion on parenting forums was divided between “mums who applauded a dad helping out and others who felt an All Black hero…..could have a negative influence on breastfeeding”.
What makes the story all the more unusual is that the advert was nothing to do with feeding babies, but an advert to encourage people to stop smoking.
One commentator, Michele Zipp, a mother 0f two, said:
“This stirs up not just a bottle-feeding versus breastfeeding debate, but it feels terribly anti-father. I cannot help but feel really disappointed in La Leche League. I don’t feel anything about a man bottle-feeding his baby is anti-breastfeeding. He can’t breastfeed even if he wanted to. And for all any of us know, there was breastmilk in that bottle.”
Pat Tuohy the Health Ministry’s chief adviser, said: “Piri by all accounts is a great dad and a terrific guy. Probably of all of the people who’ve been damaged he’s probably had the hardest time in all this because he’s just been doing what any dad would do in his situation and good on him.”
And one dad commenting on Facebook said: “I bottle fed both of my kids because my wife didn’t produce enough milk to satisfy their hunger and felt that I bonded with them in a special way as a result. A guy looking after a child is a beautiful thing to see. Seriously what the hell goes through these people’s brains?”
Now a new campaign to get the bottle-feeding scenes re-instated has started on facebook – click here to find the page.
To read different views on this story see:
- The Natural Parent and The Piri Weepu Story
- Breast-feeding advocates go overboard
- Don’t Anger The Breast Goddess
- Breastfeeding is still the gold standard
- When Did Parenting Become So Competitive
- Sweet photo of dad feeding baby turns controversial
- La Leche League Shames Father For (Gasp) Feeding His Kids
- Going Too Far In A Good Cause
- Ministry Gave Green Light To Weepu Ad