It's rare, but sometimes magazine covers are so impactful that they go viral and become as much of a story as those they carry inside.
The recent cover of TIME is an example—it made a powerful statement about Black motherhood through artwork, and now Today's Parent has created its own iconic, viral cover by putting post-birth photography and breastfeeding right on the front of the July issue.
As first reported by the Huffington Post, the photo was shot by birth photographer Hannah Spencer and features 28-year-old writer and mother of three, Siarre Massey, and her son, Archer, who is now over a year old.
"Hannah is a good friend of mine and asked my permission to use the photo and also arranged compensation for me," Massey tells Motherly, adding that she is incredibly happy to see her photographer friend "garner the recognition she deserves."
Massey's used to putting herself out there as a writer, but not exactly used to the attention that comes when you're on the cover of a magazine.
Of going viral, she says: "Right now, I'm just taking it in and trying to process."
The photograph of Massey breastfeeding her newborn son is visually stunning, and in a world where mothers sometimes find their own images of birth and breastfeeding reported or deleted on social media, it's refreshing to see this beautiful photograph on the cover of a glossy magazine.
The benefits of breastfeeding are hardly a secret in today's society, but a survey done just last year found that while public health organizations encourage mothers to breastfeed, our fellow citizens too often discourage us. According to Aeroflow, a full 28% of women do not believe new moms should be allowed to breastfeed in public, and 22% of men agreed.
This cover challenges that, and challenges assumptions about who is breastfeeding, too, by showing a Black mother in this beautiful moment. Breastfeeding rates are lower for Black moms, an issue rooted in systemic racism and recognized annually during Black Breastfeeding Week, celebrated during the last week in August.
Ahead of Black Breastfeeding Week and as Black Lives Matter is changing the world, the timing of this viral picture is perfect. But we need to see more images like the one on the cover of Today's Parent all the time (it should be noted that Today's Parent has a history of bringing diverse covers to the magazine rack and this is not the first time the magazine has featured a Black mom breastfeeding on the cover).
While Massey is happy to see her cover going viral, she hopes people will keep paying attention to Black mothers even when protests and systemic racism are no longer at the top of the trending topic lists.
When traffic to her blog spiked earlier this month on Blackout Tuesday, it was bittersweet for the writer who has so many stories to tell and so many other topics she wants her readers to relate to her on.
"My excitement was shrouded with this feeling of tokenism that I couldn't shake," she wrote. "All but 4 of the views were just on the post about race. No one subscribed."
Author Kimberly Seals Allers the creator of Black Breastfeeding Week, a former editor at Essence and the founder of the birth app BirthWithoutBias. As she explains: "It is always a beautiful thing to see Black women breastfeeding on the covers of mainstream magazines. We know that as our society shifts to normalize breastfeeding overall, increasing the visibility of Black breastfeeding is central to that cause and to [the] cause of undoing racism, since systemic oppression and racism, are at the core of what caused disproportionately lower breastfeeding rates among Black women in the first place."
She continues: "Ultimately what Black women deserve is that their presence on a magazine cover. Birthing or breastfeeding is not about Black breastfeeding but is all about all infant feeding and that it is not remarkable to see a Black woman on a magazine cover, feeding her baby the way Black women fed white women's babies generations ago, but it is simply normal and expected" .
Now is the time to put a Black mom on the cover of a parenting magazine, but so is any time.