Thank You Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek and Valentina

Salma Hayek and Valentina

Recently, ABC’s “Nightline” aired a story about humanitarian Salma Hayek’s goodwill trip to Sierra Leone.  The reason for her trip was to help fight tetanus.  What has the world buzzing about this story is the brief footage of Hayek breastfeeding a hungry infant boy.  I was compelled to write about this story because it is an issue I am very passionate about.  My mother started boycotting Nestle in the 1970s, and her explanation about introducing formula into third world countries and the problems it caused is one of my earliest memories.  I want to stress that am not anti-formula.  In a culture where formula is not readily available, cannot not prepared properly due to contaminated water, it is tantamount to killing children.  After introducing formula, a mother’s milk supply dries up, her infant loses the precious immunities provided by the mother’s milk, and then the child becomes sick, malnourished, and often dies because of the introduction of formula.  Because of this terrible situation, Salma Hayek’s gesture brought me to tears, and I am very emotional just writing about.  I am not sure that I can find the words to express how moved I am by this.  Salma Hayek is my new hero … well heroine.  I would have done the same thing without hesitation.  In fact, I would love to go on a goodwill mission with an army of breastfeeding mothers, feed villages of hungry babies, and encourage mothers to breastfeed.  Celebrities have enormous power in our culture, and when I see it used for something this important, it helps restore my faith in humanity.  I have never been a fan of the celebrity machine, which is usually hard at work influencing us to be thin, beautiful, perfect, and ageless.  I have to admit that I never paid attention to Salma Hayek before this story aired.  I am paying attention now, and hope to see more celebrities following her courageous lead.

Sierra Leone has the highest infant mortality rate in the world.  This is in large part due to malnutrition and starvation.  While doctors encourage mothers to breastfeed for two years, it is not commonly done, due to pressure from their husbands to stop.  In their culture, men are forbidden to have sexual relations with breastfeeding women.  It is certainly unrealistic for a married couple to abstain for two years, however, education is needed about the benefits of breast feeding.  Salma Hayek’s decision to breastfeed another woman’s infant was made in part to help diminish this stigma.  At the time of her trip, Hayek was breastfeeding her own daughter, Valentina.  Ironically, the infant boy she breastfed shared her daughter’s birthday.

Personally, I found this gesture beyond beautiful.  I love Salma Hayek for doing this, and using her celebrity power to make a positive difference in the world.  She is an amazing woman and I have an enormous amount of respect for her.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp6wpmqVMsk

Thanks for reading ~ Sid


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Published in: on February 13, 2009 at 9:33 pm  Comments (1)  
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