Professor looks at media depictions of breastfeedi...

Professor looks at media depictions of breastfeeding on ‘MTSU On the Record’

The media’s characterizations of one of life’s most natural acts — breastfeeding — was the topic of a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. Katie Foss, associate professor of media studies in MTSU's School of Journalism

Dr. Katie Foss

Host Gina Logue’s interview with MTSU School of Journalism professor Katie Foss first aired April 3 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and online at You can listen to their conversation above.

Foss, an associate professor of media studies, is the author of “Breastfeeding and Media: Exploring Conflicting Discourses that Threaten Public Health.” The book analyzes more than 200 years’ worth of media depictions of breastfeeding in magazines, doctors’ office materials, television, digital media and other sources.

Foss breastfeeding book coverOne example Foss cites in the first chapter of her book is the Similac infant formula company’s “The Mother ‘Hood” ad, shown below, which pits parents with different child-rearing ideas against each other on a playground.

Foss asserts that both news and entertainment media create an ideal of the breastfeeding woman and criticize women who fail to live up to this model.

The professor also claims that society perpetuates the false notion that breastfeeding is the sole responsibility of the mother, who likely is uneducated about and unprepared to deal with the difficulties she might encounter.

“As a whole, what we’re seeing is an emphasis on the individual woman … who is supposed to breastfeed and overcome all these obstacles without really knowing how or having the cultural support to do so,” Foss said.

Foss also is the author of “Television and Health Responsibility in an Age of Individualism.” Her current book is published by Palgrave, a subsidiary of Macmillan.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.