On a recent trip to Sierra Leone, Salma Hayek (a spokesperson for UNICEF) was kind enough to offer up her breasts, and her one-year-old daughter's milk, to a malnourished baby. Coincidentally, the baby was born on the same day as her daughter Valentina, which made Salma feel even more bonded to him.
"I actually think that my baby would be very proud to be able to share her milk, and when she grows up, I'm going to make sure she continues to be a caring, generous person," says Hayek.
We asked Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz to weigh in on a custom that seems unusual to Americans, but is commonplace in impoverished countries.
"When I first heard the news that the beautiful and talented star Salma Hayek had breastfed another woman's baby while promoting infant immunizations and health on a trip to Sierra Leone, I have to admit, I thought, 'Not another wacky celebrity escapade!' But as I learned more about what actually happened and why it happened, the phrase 'You go, girl!' is what entered my mind.
Infant mortality remains high in much of Africa and apparently a social stigma attached to prolonged breast feeding is preventing many women in Sierra Leone from doing what comes naturally, free, always the right temperature and chock full of nutrients, breast milk is the best known food for babies. This 'event' has caused quite a stir and brings up so many interesting issues:
- Empowerment of women to feed, if at all possible, their babies what is best;
- The right to show a boob and put that boob into a baby's mouth for sustenance; and
- De-sexualizing a favorite body part. Salma Hayek made a powerful statement about all of the above.