Stylized photographs of Olivia Wilde emerged in Glamour this week – her hair softly curled, her legs elegantly crossed as she sits alone at a diner, wearing Prada shoes and a Roberto Cavalli dress, breastfeeding her 5-month-old son, Otis.
The actress is hardly the first celebrity to show off what she looks like while breastfeeding. Gisele Bundchen, Miranda Kerr, Pink, Gwen Stefani and Jaime King have also glamorized nursing by posing for photos to share with the world.
PHOTOS: Celebs take pics breastfeeding
But some critics have expressed concern about the trend – not because they have an issue with breastfeeding itself, but because they say the photos are far from realistic.
“Celebrity moms put out stylized breastfeeding photos to make a statement that they are still sexy. It’s often more about wanting to be perceived as superhuman versus being perceived as real,” branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev told FOX411.
“People aren't buying it. Moms have always been sexy, and we don’t need stylized photo shoots and smoldering social media selfies to make that point. These commercialized photos can actually undermine their authenticity.”
Sehdev went as far as to call the Wilde-like shots a form of “commercial exploitation of motherhood.”
“It could also be viewed as exploitation of the child’s relationship with their mother,” he said. “When you commercialize any intimate experience between two people, it can be considered exploitation.
“Celebrity moms aren’t trying to be viewed as ‘normal’ people – they are positioning themselves as stylized superhumans.”
Similarly, critics in recent years have lashed out at the trend of very pregnant high-profile women posing in the nude. Demi Moore was the first – she stripped down to bare her belly for the cover of Vanity Fair 22 years ago. Cindy Crawford, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Miranda Kerr and Milla Jovovich are just a handful of big names who have followed suit. The photos are often justified as celebrating the beauty of the pregnant body. But the airbrushed and glamour-driven glossy magazine shoots are often criticized for being unrealistic.
On the flip side, the breastfeeding pictures have attracted an outpouring of support from health professionals, media analysts and fans.
“Celebrities who help promote this as natural, healthy and beautiful are helping raise consciousness,” said psychologist Sheri Meyers, a marriage and family therapist. “Breastfeeding is the healthiest way for a baby to get their needed nutrients.”
The photos have also been heralded as “acts of feminism.” The culture and fashion news site Bustle.com calls them perfect illustrations of “women’s right to choose in what ways we will use our body,” adding that they “erase the idea that breasts are only for sexual pleasure.”
Wilde’s Glamour spread was published in the middle of World Breastfeeding Week, when the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, with the support of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, promotes the benefits of nursing worldwide.
“It’s a surprisingly good media move to celebrate life, motherhood and children instead of the superficial world that makes up Tinseltown,” said Culture and Media Institute writer Katie Yoder. “It’s long overdue for Hollywood to depict women as mothers instead of just sex objects.”
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