Hypatia 36 (1):60-79 (2021)

Kathryn MacKay
University of Sydney
In this article, I focus on two problematic aspects of British health-promotion campaigns regarding feeding children, particularly regarding breastfeeding and obesity. The first of these is that health-promotion campaigns around “lifestyle” issues dehumanize mothers with their imagery or text, stemming from the ongoing undervaluing and objectification of mothers and women. Public health-promotion instrumentalizes mothers as necessary components in achieving its aims, while at the same time undermining their agency as persons and interlocutors by tying “mother” to particular images. This has a double effect: first, it excludes mothers who do not fit the campaign picture of a mother; second, it encloses those who do fit the picture into an objectified image of motherhood that is defined by and subject to the dominant white, heteropatriarchal gaze. The second problem is that campaigns place unjustified demands on mothers, which stem from a misinterpretation of the maternal duty to benefit. I argue that nutrition-related health concerns regarding children are improperly framed as individual failures of maternal duty, rather than as failures of a system to function correctly. These arguments ultimately support shifting the focus of responsibility for issues around childhood nutrition away from mothers and back toward policymakers.
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DOI 10.1017/hyp.2020.47
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Measuring Mothering.Rebecca Kukla - 2008 - International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 1 (1):67-90.

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