Jun 05, 2014 5:39PM

Natalia Vodianova Joins Breast-feeding Model Movement On Instagram

The Streisand Effect of breasts in the media.

This year for her partner's birthday, Natalia Vodianova sent him the gift of 'gram a la mamm. The Russian Supermodel tagged her boo Antoine Arnault onto a stunning black and white Instagram photo of her breast-feeding their baby son Maxim, born May this year. It's a beautiful photo. It's a beautiful photo because it is of a woman who's made a fulltime profession out of looking spectacular. It's beautiful because it is an intimate moment between a mother and baby, captured by a world-class photographer (Paolo Roversi).

"Happy birthday baby from Paolo, Maxim and I", her caption says.

Vodianova isn't the first woman — or indeed supermodel — to share a breast-feeding pic with the public.

Both Miranda Kerr and Gisele have published photos in which they were breast-feeding their children, and each instance was deemed newsworthy and drew praise and criticism from the international press and armchair commentators. In Western culture there still exists an apparent squeamishness toward the act of breast-feeding.

Truth be told, my personal ambivalence toward breast-feeding isn't without its limit. Like others in the post-toddler phase of life, the scenes in which Game Of Thrones' six-year-old Lord of the Eyrie, Robin Arryn, was shown enthusiastically swilling breast milk straight from his mother's chest made me squirm; but mothers nursing babies is an act that should not be deemed taboo.

A recent article on the subject in the Daily Mail was flamed by a handful of commenters, calling mothers who breast-feed in public "Attention seeking exhibitionists". One reader said, "These bored mothers are just desperate for attention, to provoke & to stir just so they finally have something going on in their lives." Another commenter wrote, "It's really offensive to see it near the point of disgusting."

The outcry from these offended parties with an aversion to public suckling seems to be coming via a hysterical minority. Of course, breast-feeding in public and opting to post a breastfeeding selfie are two different things.

Miranda Kerr:

Selfies are questionable at the best of times, so the conscious decision to drop a pic of a child 'on the boob' might seem like an overshare. However, the women posting these images are really becoming part of a bigger issue.

I’m hesitant to describe the increasing visibility of women's breasts on social media as a 'movement' (I am, after all, well familiar with the bottomless — and bottom-filled — treasure trove of imagery dedicated to the naked female form available on Tumblr); but there seems to be an undeniable momentum shift toward the posting of breasts with the very intention of making a statement: let's chill on breast censorship.

Gisele's contentious breast-feeding selfie:

Actress-turned-filmmaker Lina Esco is an advocate of 'top freedom' and a champion of the new wave of feminism online. In Zac Bayly's interview with her for Oyster #104, Lina spoke about the current double standards of top freedom on social media, particularly Instagram, and the #FreeTheNipple hashtag — an increasingly visible social media movement that she coined.

Lina told Oyster, "we've been taken off Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. But the message is going viral and we've had all the celebrities [supporters include Lena Dunham, Cara Delevingne and Miley Cyrus] behind us, posting pictures in their Free the Nipple t-shirts."

Lina Esco photographed by Tierney Gearon:

Just today Sky Ferreira also weighed in on the issue in a series of Twitter posts, lamenting the fact her Gaspar Noé-lensed album cover for Night Time, My Time had been banned from social media:

Lol. I wasn't allowed to put my album cover on Facebook,Twitter (default) or Instagram or iTunes & most websites. Just saying.

— Sky Ferreira (@skyferreira) June 4, 2014

All I'm saying is...Instagram isn't the issue. It's way way way bigger 

— Sky Ferreira (@skyferreira) June 4, 2014

It should just be about the actual image (but who's to judge? I guess.) more so than nudity

— Sky Ferreira (@skyferreira) June 4, 2014

Ferreira makes a point. The bigger issue comes down to traditional gender ideologies in Western culture and an ingrained sexualisation of female breasts regardless of context — such as the context of breast-feeding one's baby. Studies have suggested that dominant gender ideologies, reinforced by the media, consistently paint women as sexual objects, and the oppressive almost watchdog-like attitude to female breasts stems from this.

Right now, toplessness is well and truly having its moment, as both a form of activism — which we've seen with #FreeTheNipple and the FEMEN movement — and as a social statement and topic of discussion: protesting the hysteria surrounding the female breast has taken on a near hysterical life of its own.

But when it comes down to it, all this near hysteria and the peripheral rhetoric about the male gaze, Western culture's view of the female body, and sexism in censorship, is all a Streisand Effect-like symptom of the very people calling mums "attention seeking exhibitionists", avowing that nipples are ribald forbidden fruit, and banning the Sky Ferreiras of the world from posting their photos. The preoccupation to keep 'em covered is feeding the beast/breast that is striving to get 'em exposed!

Whether its supermodels feeding their kids or a bulge of side boob on the red carpet, boobs are just boobs. Nipples are just nipples. The less giggle-worthy, insidious and reportable tits becomes, the more we all can chill the hell out.

Wouldn't it be nice to have one less thing to worry about? This is a good place to start.