"I support breastfeeding... but... I don't need to see it."
I'll be honest, it's hard for me to hold back on the expletives when this phrase (and so many others like it) get thrown around with utter disregard for the impact that they have. These words used to hit me square in the gut, but now, two and a half years into our breastfeeding journey, I can see the ignorance, mis-education and selfishness that comments like this rest within.
But as a new mother... it wasn't quite so clear-cut.
I remember sitting, squashed and repulsed, as I fed baby bean in the tiny and disgusting toilet cubicle. I remember blinking back the tears as I searched within myself for the strength to throw a smiling, two-finger salute to anybody who thought that this was an appropriate place for me to feed my child.
Now, I will nurse anywhere, but I didn't come to realize the power of my mama-stripes overnight. I had to see the gutter to make the choice to leave it. To make a stand; proud and determined that my daughter and I deserved more.
More than germ-infested public restrooms.
More than a square-inch within which to move.
More than the smell of other people's faeces when feeding and nurturing my innocent bundle of love.
I'm sure that most people would agree, but here's the clincher: without fully accepting breastfeeding, many mothers will inevitably feel condemned to feed their babies in public bathrooms. Hidden from and shamed by society. Without opening our eyes and seeing what this actually looks like in practice, I guess ignorance remains...
Introducing our visual saviors, our eye-openers...
Kris Haro and Johnathan Wenske, graphic design students at the University of North Texas, designed an ad campaign to protect mothers from harassment. These posters (see main picture) promote public awareness of the need to openly encourage breastfeeding acceptance... with no "but."
Kris and Johnathan approached Monica Young, 21, to be the face of this project. Monica told me, "I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be a part of this campaign. I've heard more disturbing comments and received so many displeasing glances in the last four months than I have had my entire life! I would love to nurse my son without putting my head down and since sitting for these pictures, I've proudly nursed wherever I please. This project has inspired many people, but especially myself!"
My hope is that the storm raised by this project will open more hearts and eyes to the normalcy of breastfeeding, and with thousands of "likes" so far, this message will surely only gain momentum.
Imagine fuelling this movement with a new, un-caveated mantra: "I support breastfeeding." And let's leave it at that.
Further details of the students' project can be found here.