The debate on breastfeeding in public is growing even more contentious each day. Mothers out there are becoming fierce lionesses when it comes to breastfeeding their children. They’re demanding to be able to feed their children wherever they want, and some of them don’t even bother to cover up. It’s a controversial topic these days, as there are people who insist that a mother should still be modest and cover up her breasts.
These mothers are fighting because they’re saying that breasts shouldn’t be considered sexual when it comes to feeding their children. They’re fighting to normalize breastfeeding in public for the sake of their children. These days, however, when things are becoming more and more accepted, women are still being bashed even in public when they attempt to feed their children. Some people just don’t want to see a woman pull her breast out in public; they want them covered. They bully these mothers and try to shame them when all they’re doing is nurturing their children. Should they cover up? The debate on that is still going strong.
We have confessions from women who’ve been told off for doing the most natural thing for them, feeding their children. These women, though, aren’t going down without a fight. They’re not about to be bullied. They’re speaking their minds and shocking the world. These are the mothers who want to empower women and stand up for their families, and they’re doing a damn good job.
15. She Caused Her Family Heartache
A woman attended a destination wedding only to be told by the bride and groom not to even dare to breastfeed in public. The couple approached the bride and stated,“I need you to do me a big favor, Holly. I’m asking that if [MaiTai] needs to nurse tonight, that you go somewhere else. I know you’re very passionate about this, but honestly, it isn’t the time or place. I’m worried about staring and what might happen,” he continued. “I don’t want… a scene” (Mamasmilknochaser). Not only that, but she was later told that her public breastfeeding often caused her family heartache and that they didn’t want to deal with it. Seems pretty harsh. The woman did leave the dinner and missed eating entirely so that her child could eat, but she sat on a bench outside the dining room in full view of the guests.
14. No Breastfeeding at the YMCA
Elizabeth Gooding was at the YMCA in the children’s facility with her kids when she was told she couldn’t breastfeed in public. So, what did she do? She decided to file a lawsuit against the YMCA. Gooding actually used to teach classes at the YMCA and assumed that an organization like that would be supportive of her, and it wasn’t. “The YMCA should be supporting breastfeeding moms and their babies, not deterring them” (People). The YMCA responded that it wanted “to assure the community that it does not restrict where members or program participants may breastfeed within the facility” and that it “is confident that it is in compliance with federal and Rhode Island law in this regard.” We’ll have to keep an eye on how that lawsuit is coming along and whether Gooding will win for the good of the women in her community.
13. Her Picture Went Viral
This mother posted a picture on her Facebook about an experience she had in a restaurant, and the picture went viral. “Earlier today, I posted this picture of my son and I [sic] breastfeeding uncovered. It appears I’m staring off into the distance. In reality, I’m staring into the eyes of a woman staring at me,” Ashley Kaidel wrote. “She is looking at me with disgust and shaking her head with judgment in an attempt to shame me and indirectly tell me without words that I am wrong and need to cover myself. So, let me make my reasoning clear on why I post pictures of my son and I [sic] publicly breastfeeding uncovered. Breasts were made to sustain your baby’s life before they were made to bring pleasure to any other man, woman, partner or spouse” (funjabimunda). She sure showed that woman.
12. A Wedding Guest
This woman was at a wedding, and the venue itself told her that she wasn’t welcome there if she was going to publicly breastfeed. “[The employee] said it was against the museum policy and I had to stop,” Locke posted on Facebook. “I refused, and she said she would have to get her manager. I said I would be happy to speak with her manager. Moments later, I was approached by a young woman. She said I would have to move, and they had a private area where I could ‘do that.’ I said I was fine where I was, and told her that legally, I could nurse my child wherever I was permitted to be. (I wanted to be near where my family and other two children were posing for the pictures. I truly did not have time to stop the feeding and move to another location even if I wanted to” (Thebump).
11. United Doesn’t Allow Breastfeeding
If you’re a breastfeeding mother and you’re thinking about flying on United Airlines, you might want to think again. One woman on the flight was outraged when she saw Juliet Thomson breastfeeding her child. The woman called her disgusting, and the flight attendants came over and asked Thomson to cover up, which she found very upsetting. Once she was off the flight, the Airline came and apologized to her, but she was still unhappy with how the flight attendants had treated her. She posted on her Instagram about the incident. “We, the passengers, are putting our lives into your hands when we fly with you. How can you then bend and twist the rules according to what suits you? You have a moral responsibility to us. #MomsDontFlyUnited” (TheBump). United came back with a statement. “Both United Airlines and Skywest Airlines, which operated the United Express flight, welcome moms nursing onboard our aircraft and instruct employees to do their best to see to those moms’ comfort. Skywest is researching the circumstances of that flight to confirm whether the flight attendant’s efforts may have simply been to try to calm a difficult situation for Ms. Thomson.”
10. The Church Kicked Her Out
Annie Peguero was asked to leave a church service at Summit Church in Springfield, Virginia. “I took out my breast, put it right in her [the baby’s] mouth, and RIGHT AWAY, I mean right away, a woman came over to me, and said, ‘We have a really nice baby room; let’s go to the baby room.’ And I said, ‘No, it’s okay; it’ll just be a minute.’ And she said, ‘No, we’re going to the baby room now,’” Peguero, recalled in a Facebook Live video. “Then Autumn was done, and I said ‘No, I’m not going’” (People). The Virginia law does allow women to breastfeed anywhere as well, and Peguero is hoping to get an apology from the church that stated they don’t allow women to breastfeed without a cover-up. “The fact that this church has told me that it’s their policy to not allow women to breastfeed in the sanctuary floors me, that we still have places that are thinking that way and teaching that way, and are teaching their workers to intercept women who are breastfeeding. I so love going to church there, but I’ll never set foot in that church again, and it makes me really sad.”
9. No Support From Her Father
Kelly Stanley was stunned when she went to a restaurant with her father and the whole family and that he turned out to be the one that shamed her for breastfeeding. Her father went so far as to throw a napkin over them while she was trying to breastfeed. “I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was trying to cover me,” Stanley wrote on Instagram. “I went off on him, and I’m glad I did. You know why? Because the gesture was humiliating. Because no woman should ever feel like she is being inappropriate or immodest by feeding her baby, anywhere, ever. Breastfeeding is NOT indecent exposure. It’s not inviting men to gawk at my breasts. EVEN IF GOD FORBID THE BABY UNLATCHES AND THEY SEE MY BARE NIPPLE” (People). It’s pretty shocking when a woman can’t get support from her own family.
8. The Irony of a Lingerie Store
The irony wasn’t lost on Wittney Hale when she was asked by employees of a lingerie store to cover her breasts. She happened to be breastfeeding right in front of a big picture of breasts when a Dillard’s employee in Tennessee approached her. She posted on Facebook about the incident. “Why is it acceptable for a giant picture of boobs to be on the wall, but I cannot feed my child?” The post went viral, and suddenly the store began contacting her to apologize for the incident. “I think it’s safe to say no mom will ever be asked to nurse in the restroom in Hamilton Place mall again” (People). Hale believes the only reason the store apologized to her was that they realized that there was a lot of angry mothers out there. She certainly wasn’t impressed by it.
7. Even Celebrities Get Shamed
Even celebrities, such as Mila Kunis, aren’t safe from the shamers who demand women to cover up when they breastfeed. “It always made my husband and I feel a little weird,” she admitted. “It took us a little back because people actually looked at us in a shameful [way], and we were like, ‘Oh my God,’ because it’s so not a sexual act. It didn’t matter to me what other people thought. That’s what I chose to do, but I think it’s unfortunate that people are so hard on women who choose to do it and do it in public. In the States and in our culture, we sexualize the breast so much that there’s an aspect of it that people just don’t know how to wrap their head around the idea of showing your breast in public. But I respect the opinions on both sides. If it’s not for you, don’t look” (Vanity Fair).
6. Breastfeeding in the Senate
Breastfeeding is everywhere these days, and this member of the Senate is proving that. Australian senator Larissa Waters means business when she goes to work and breastfeeds in public. At first, people found it to be shocking, but Waters wasn’t backing down, and she ended up making history instead. “First time I’ve had to move a Senate motion while breastfeeding! And my partner in crime moved her own motion just before mine, bless her. Well, I think it’s slightly ridiculous that feeding one’s baby is international news — women have been breastfeeding for as long as time immemorial,” she said. “But in another sense, this is the first time this has happened in our Parliament in 116 years, so it’s definitely world history-making” (People), She’s a brave woman. Not too many women would’ve been brave enough to do that. She should be proud.
5. Olivia Wilde Shamed
Olivia Wilde is one of the first women who did a fashion spread that showed her breastfeeding. She did it because she felt strongly about the subject, and in the past, she has been shamed on social media for posting pictures of her breastfeeding her child. There have been people who have tried to bully her online, and she’s not having it. She faces those bullies by doing it even more. It’s a stunning photo, and she’s certainly started a movement where women are feeling more comfortable breastfeeding in public. “I certainly don’t really look like that when I’m [typically] breastfeeding,” she explained. “And there’s usually a diaper involved” (The DailyBeast). It just goes to show that even celebrities get shamed even if they’re surrounded by important people and have all the money in the world. But the world is changing, however slowly.
4. Pool Employee Asks Her to Cover Up
Brie Theisen was at the Wood River Aquatic Center in Illinois when a pool employee told her she couldn’t breastfeed in public. They insisted that she could feed the baby in the bathroom. “I went to the side of the pool to breastfeed her, and I didn’t feel like it was necessary for me to cover up because it is [sic] 90 degrees outside, so I did do it as discreetly as I could,” she told St. Louis’ Fox 2. “After the situation, I did go speak to the higher boss, and I was told that just because I was comfortable changing her in a public restroom that I should be comfortable feeding her there,” she said. “I feel like you can’t compare the two because you wouldn’t eat where you go to the bathroom” (People). She ended up getting an apology from the center in the end because Illinois law states that a mother can breastfeed anywhere.
3. TEDWomen Favors Adults Only
Liza Morris went to a TEDWomen conference in DC thinking that she would be able to breastfeed her daughter during the event and then found out that the event was adults only. “I was unaware that there was a policy, and it didn’t occur to me to check. I would not have brought her to the full-scale TED conference, but this was TEDWomen, which seemed like a place where a baby would be well received” (People). She had to stay in the mother’s lounge to feed her child even though she didn’t agree with it at all. but it was too late for her to change her flights. “I think (hope!) we are in a time of change. But change is a process. TED is a place for positive disruption, pushing boundaries, and accelerating the pace of change. It is the most inclusionary environment I’ve ever experienced. And TEDWomen, specifically, is a place where I hope this issue can continue to evolve and women aren’t excluded just because they are nursing mothers.”
2. Approached by a Cop
Savannah Shukla was publicly breastfeeding in a Piggly Wiggly in Georgia when she was approached by a cop. He told her that she should probably cover up just in case someone was offended by what she was doing, and she decided to stand up for herself. “He also pointed out how he could ‘already see my areola’ and that if someone saw my nipple (even if I were trying to cover up) that he would have to arrest me and that he ‘really didn’t want to arrest me,’” Shukla wrote on Facebook. “For him to see my areola, he would’ve had to have been staring VERY hard. It was horrifying, absolutely horrifying that somebody, who, like I said, is supposed to protect me, threatened to arrest me, and I hadn’t even done anything wrong” (People). The sheriff’s department issued an apology the next day stating that they don’t condone the behavior of the deputy.
1. Attacked at Target
Jessie Maher took a break from her shopping to breastfeed her child in a Target restaurant when a man started berating her for doing so. “Because I’m feeding my baby, this man is going crazy. And I’m shaking.” Target has always been known as a family-friendly place, so she felt safe to breastfeed there. Target employees came to the aid of the woman and escorted the man away who even demanded that they give him a refund. “He has no right to be doing what he’s doing; you have a baby in your hands,” one employee said in a video that Maher taped. “You shouldn’t be ashamed of feeding your baby. He can go the other way. This is a beautiful moment right now. If he doesn’t like it, he can go.” She posted the video to Facebook, and it was viewed by over 8 million people.
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