A groundbreaking magazine cover of a woman breastfeeding her baby has divided opinion in India.
Grihalakshmi, a women’s magazine published in Kerala state, chose to feature model Gilu Joseph, 27, breastfeeding an infant.
Underneath, the headline reads: “Mothers tell Kerala — don’t stare! We want to breastfeed.”
It is believed that this is the first time an Indian magazine has published a cover image of a woman breastfeeding.
Speaking of the cover shot, Grihalakshmi’s editor said the magazine wanted to raise awareness about the need for mothers to be able to breastfeed in public.
Interestingly, the social media response to the cover has been largely positive, with many praising the magazine for its attempt to break down the breastfeeding taboo.
To some it’s gross, to some it’s a free show. To a child, it’s unquestionably simple and necessary. To anyone smart in enough, it’s natural. Good work, @mathrubhumieng #breastfeeding #changeyourmind https://t.co/YG5lqPvbXJ
— Shreya (@ShreyaTeresita) February 28, 2018
Good job done Grihalakshmi.every woman should support this photo and the caption
— Shashee Joganah (@ShasheeJoganah) March 1, 2018
It’s very courageous. It should encourage host of mothers to do what should be normally done for the betterment and overall growth of the infant
— Sanjay Mukherjee (@SanjayM73565536) March 1, 2018
But the fact that the model is not herself a mother has caused some unease, with some believing that the message the magazine was trying to send is therefore somewhat lost in sensationalism.
Breastfeeding is so sublime that no mother will do for a photoshoot. Our mother has given breastfeeding without any campaign, this is a commercial gimmick in the name of celebrating motherhood
— Bless.T.Anto (@bless_t_) March 1, 2018
Was she #breastfeeding?
Cause she didnt have a baby and i dont think her breasts produce any milk.
Shes just mouthing her breast on someone else’s baby!!
I wouldnt have mind if you’d shown the real mother.
— Vineet Nayar (@vineetznayar) March 2, 2018
Gilu Joseph told The Indian Express that she did not think twice before agreeing to be a part of the project.
“It is a problem to interpret this sexually,” she said. “Isn’t it a beautiful thing, friends? Which god will be angry if you feed your child?”
She went on to say that she thought of breastfeeding as a privilege for a mother and wanted to support a campaign that showed there was no shame in the act.
“Nothing can deter me from doing what I feel is right,” she said.
However, opinion has become sharply divided between those who think it has sparked debate and some who believe that, by using a traditionally glamorous model, and a child that is not hers, the photo shoot is nothing more than “cheap sensationalism.”
It’s not the first time a magazine depicting a breastfeeding mother has caused controversy.
Last April, parenting blogger Sophie Cachia caused a stir after appearing on the cover of Mother & Baby Magazine proudly breastfeeding her youngest baby.
And two years ago Elle Australia released a cover starring model Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding her son Zion to its subscription readers, but was criticised for never sending that particular cover to newsstands.
In the U.K., Tamara Ecclestone appeared on the cover of Fabulous while breastfeeding her then 17-month old daughter, Sophia. The 31-year-old socialite discussed the backlash she’s received over sharing images of herself breastfeeding her little one.
So excited to share my @Fabulousmagazine cover so proud of this special photo shoot my favourite so far. Such a beautiful moment captured love how relaxed Sophia is. One day this will be a beautiful memory for us. #fabuloussunday
A post shared by Tamara Ecclestone Rutland (@tamaraecclestoneofficial) on Aug 29, 2015 at 10:10pm PDT
“It’s something that is so natural,” she told Fabulous of the criticism.
“When there are people walking around the streets these days in thongs and bras, I’m like: ‘Really? Can anyone say anything?’ I find it bizarre what people’s priorities are.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: