Actress Salma Hayek, who I have long admired for her beauty and presence on the silver screen, just raised her stature with me for a remarkable gesture while in Africa promoting the efforts of the UN on behalf of children in Sierra Leone. She breastfed an under nourished child.
In the scheme of things in the life of this child, this matters little but for a woman, whose career is largely enhanced by her personal beauty to do this is symbolic in many ways.
Women's breast are more than adornment to entertain man. They have a real and vital purpose.
They are the very source of "the milk of human kindness."
By easily and selflessly feeding a child in distress, because she is able (she has a child of her own which is breasttfeeding) this beautiful woman reminds young women that breast feeding is a wonderful natural thing a woman can do. This is a message for young women in the First World to learn. I might add it goes of men as well, in our society that sexualizes women and their breasts. Perhaps, once they stop with the stupid cheap macho jokes they might recognize the lesson. As an admirer of great decolletage (I love this word) I have shared in this obsession like other men and perhaps more than most. I like to think I know this is a distraction and not in reality very important.
Perhaps, my having a sister who worked on behalf of LaLeche in support of breastfeeding taught me something. She even went to Bostwana one year on behalf of LaLeche League and the UN to promote breastfeeding. . . . . . .Yes! I had to learn that African women did not automatically know all about breastfeeding, in spite of the years I learned about breasts reading National Geographic Magazine.
More immediately, women of Africa and particularly Sierre Leone, are reminded that breastfeeding is the best thing they can do for their children. Culturally, they are pressured not to do it. And for years, baby food manufacturers have promoted the idea that using formula rather than breastfeeding is the more modern thing to do, making the problem worse.
One could dismiss this gesture as a stunt but after viewing these videos below I feel it was a selfless gesture to make a point about the importance of breastfeeding.
Symbolically, it also says that all children are our children. If we are able to feed and care for the World's children better, we in the First World should in all the ways we can.
To better understand the context of the breastfeeding and what Salma Hayek was doing in Sierra Leone watch the longer video below, from the TV show Frontline. She was there to promote the UN giving tetanus shots to mothers to protect their babies. The manufacturer of Pampers is donating a tetanus vaccine for every package of diapers sold. This has added up to a great number, which is beginning to make a difference.
I admire Salma Hayek for using her celebrity status to promote the care and feeding of children in Africa.