Every couple of months or so, I seem to find myself in the middle of a media storm about breastfeeding. We've all seen the sequence of events... it tends to go something like this:
- A proud mama shares a nursing picture to my Facebook page.
- The Mama Bean Facebook community celebrates the beauty of the photograph and the 'meaning' behind the share: to help normalize breastfeeding and empower other mothers.
- A couple of trolls stop by and add a sprinkling of ignorance to the party.
- A fresh battle of Common Sense vs. Ignorance ensues; getting picked up by various media channels across the globe.
Just this week, the stunning picture of mama Tanya feeding her toddler amid the waves made it to Australian morning television, but strangely, the side of her breast was pixelated. Yes, the innocent side boob; a fresh victim of the ever-increasing censorship of motherhood:
What exactly is the problem with a little side boob? It would seem that it all depends on what a woman is using her breasts for. Because we all know that breasts sell almost anything; we barely even notice the cleavage on billboards or magazine covers... but when faced with a nursing mother's bare skin, there is outrage. All too often lately, I am seeing the following statement: "The rest of the world don't want to see your breasts!"
I could write an essay to 'answer' this claim, but I'll spare you. I'll keep it brief and share this picture instead:
Doesn't it just speak a thousand words? The setting, the breastfeeding, the absolute irony of the nursing cover in comparison to the 30 foot half-naked Victoria's Secret model sprawled across the window in the background.
The mama in this picture, Erin, told me:
While I am blessed to live in a pretty progressive, breastfeeding-friendly place, I am aware of the many stories of mamas being scrutinized and criticized for doing exactly what good mamas are supposed to do: nurture and nourish their babies. As I sat eating lunch with my family, I was struck by the fact that people could be unfazed by the enormous photograph in the Victoria's Secret store window across the street, and yet be offended by me feeding my baby. I wish now that I had taken off the drape.
We are told to celebrate the female form and we are so very used to seeing one version of it, that any deviation from this supposed 'norm' is seen as shocking. But here's the truth; the Victoria's Secret concept of feminitiy isn't the one singular version of womanhood out there. Shouldn't this gorgeous mama, nursing her baby, also be celebrated? Or at the very least, be accepted and not demonized?
But there is hope. Because the more we see breastfeeding, the less fazed we will be at the notion of a mother feeding her child. The more we talk about it and accept it without a 'but' or a caveat, the less shocking a nursing duo will become. Because, as I have said so many times before, breastfeeding is normal.
And the best part? This picture was taken by Erin's 14-year-old son. A boy who has been 'exposed' to breastfeeding... a boy who is not fazed by his younger sister's need to feed and find comfort at her mother's breast. A boy who gives us hope. As Mama Erin says, "I love that at this tender age, he can appreciate the irony."
Round of applause.
This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.
Amy Dyer > TODAY/Facebook (Original photograph: Paulina Splechta Photography)
Mama Erin > Mama Bean - Unconditional Attachment/Facebook