If you’ve never heard of the infamous American Reality TV star Snooki then let me enlighten you. She is a founding cast member of Jersey Shore, a reality show which sees a cast of young men and women house-sharing with plenty of high jinks, drinking, brawls and serial one-night stands. I’ve never actually seen the show myself but have watched the UK equivalent Geordie Shore which has been described as ‘tame’ compared to the highly popular US show.
It’s not the kind of lifestyle which has ever appealed to me but each to their own and it has been extremely lucrative for Snooki who reportedly earns $150,000 per episode. If you are the kind of person who isn’t easily embarrassed and not ashamed to hang out your dirty washing in front of millions then you can set yourself up for life.
There is no doubt more to Snooki than her Jersey Shore legacy but if you put her name in to a search engine, this is all that comes up. All that changed a few days ago when she gave birth to her baby boy which is the reason she has been registered on my radar.
Despite airing her concerns about breastfeeding when she was pregnant, she is indeed nursing her son.
Now, the fact that she is breastfeeding does not make her a better Mum than the next. It doesn’t erase the controversy which has surrounded her since she first hit US screens. It does however show the huge number of her young, impressionable fans that breastfeeding is an option and the fact that she is being loud and proud about her love of motherhood and breastfeeding is great.
Breastfeeding rates in America and the UK are pitiful. This is largely due to lack of good breastfeeding support once women give birth but the reason most women and especially young mums don’t even consider the alternative is the might of the formula companies. Artificial feeding is the norm and it is portrayed as such every day, on every tv, in every magazine and even on supermarket shopping trollies!
Dolls are sold with bottles for feeding, myths that breastfeeding is painful, hard work, is unachievable with multiples or large babies, that babies should be sleeping through at a few weeks old, that breastmilk does not provide enough iron are fed to us every day by said companies whether it be through aggressive marketing or in articles which are seemingly written by well-meaning experts in our newspapers. To women who are not embroiled in the politics of breastfeeding, these subtle underhanded tactics pass them by and shockingly inaccurate portrayals of breastfeeding/formula feeding are taken as fact.
This is where celebrities come in. The modern world is obsessed by what these ‘stars’ are doing in their every day life and companies are clamouring to secure lucrative advertising deals which can make or break their brand.
Breastfeeding is no different. The influence reality stars have over our teenagers in particular is immense. You might find it sad that an awful lot of our youth of today are dreaming of fast cars and mansions and longing to be harassed by every Tom, Dick and Harry for autographs on a simple trip to the supermarket but that is the way of the world we live in.
So when someone as influential as Snooki brings breastfeeding in to the limelight for however long, it really could influence her fans to at least give it a go. The fact that she was brave enough to express (pardon the pun) concerns over breastfeeding and then opted to give it a go when she wasn’t entirely comfortable IS to be applauded and it’s great she is obviously receiving some brilliant support.