I want to talk about breastfeeding... More specifically about breastfeeding in public. Before I had my son I had never been around anyone who breastfed. My mother and mother-in-law both had bad experiences with trying to breastfeed and as a result only did it for a very short time. I always felt that it wasn't all that important and I didn't understand why people couldn't just give their kid a bottle when they were out in public. I even had my argument for those who said it was a natural part of life, "Well, so is peeing and pooping, but I don't do that in front of you". I know, I'm so clever.
Then, I decided to have a baby...
All of a sudden, it was MY baby whose health and well-being we were talking about and I understood why women wanted to breastfeed I realized breastfeeding is one of the MOST important things you can do for your child, but I still didn't think there was any reason people had to do it in public. At the time I was pregnant I figured, no big deal, I'll breastfeed my baby and when we're out in public I'll just give him a bottle. Since breastfeeding came so naturally to everyone, I shouldn't have any problems at all switching back and forth between breast and bottle, babies know what to do. HA!
I learned VERY quickly that breastfeeding is not easy and natural for everyone and babies do not always know what to do. My son and I struggled for months with several different issues until I finally decided I would just pump and give him expressed breastmilk. I have only recently even been able to figure out what I think may have been causing all of our issues and hope I will be able to get past all the "booby traps" the next time around. I have learned one other thing since all of this happened, breastfeeding in public IS natural and for many it is NECESSARY!
Because my son and I were struggling so much with nursing, I would often feel the need to supplement him by giving him a bottle of expressed milk. After these bottle feedings I always noticed that, even though latch was not our biggest issue, he seemed to struggle with figuring it out. It felt like I would start to make some progress, but then we would give him a bottle and, just like that, we had to start over. It was always three steps forward, two steps back.
That was how it finally hit me. We are asking women to be ashamed of something that they should be proud of. We are asking women to potentially damage a bond that they have worked so hard for.
So, now we come to why I wanted to write this post in the first place... Why are we doing this? Why are we so uncomfortable with breastfeeding?
I think the reason is simple, men have turned women (and their body parts) into sex objects and women have decided to accept it. I know that breasts have been sexualized since the beginning of time, but at least back in the day people accepted the fact that they could do double duty. No one can deny that society just continues to get more and more lax in its morality. The prevalence of pornography, the ridiculous lack of clothes women wear today, even girls dolls are dressed sleazy (Bratz, Monster High).
I have heard MANY women say that they don't want to breastfeed because it will make their boobs ugly, they will have to wear big maternity bras and won't be able to wear cute tops anymore, and the real kicker- it's disgusting to let a baby suck on my boob, my boobs are for my husband. I hear and read statements like these over and over again and it just proves that people have completely lost sight of what breasts are... they are UDDERS people! Sorry to say it, but yes they are there for the purpose of producing milk to sustain life!
Now, I know I've said that men started this, but I don't think they are the ones to blame. I just think that men have created an over sexualized image of women today and we as a society, and as women, have accepted it. As a result, breastfeeding has become inappropriate because breasts are no longer equated with feeding a baby, but with sex.
Actually, I believe that most men don't have an issue with breastfeeding. I have never heard a man complain about women breastfeeding, but I have heard plenty of complaining from women. We all know that women are much too concerned with how other women choose to live their lives, just look at how we treat each other. Look at the endless "Mommy Wars" going on.
We have lost sight of why breastfeeding is so important because we have turned breasts into NOTHING more than sex objects!
I want you all to look at these BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING photos and tell me, are you offended by what you see? Do they make you uncomfortable?
My guess is that you didn't find these photos offensive or disturbing in any way. (If you did, you may need to rethink your values). These pictures are amazing! These are strong, real women! What struck me most when these pictures started coming in was how different all of the mothers are from one another. These mothers were all different ages, races, backgrounds! They all had a different experience and a different story to tell. The next thing that struck me was the ages of the children, some very, very young babies, while others are much older. It is amazing that so many different kinds of women breastfeed, yet we treat it as though it something weird and rare. Why are we hiding something so beautiful?
We hide these beautiful images from society yet we allow images like these to run rampant on TV and the Internet.
Ok, now answer my previous question. Were you offended by these pictures?
I know I was!
You're probably thinking, "Ok, but pictures like those are all over the Internet, just do a Google search and you'll come up with a ton of pictures just like those". Yes, I agree, but I didn't find these pictures by just searching the Internet.
When I started thinking about this post I decided that since Facebook seems to think that photos of breastfeeding are SOOO inappropriate I would find some photos that proved just how hypocritical they are. Facebook is constantly deeming breastfeeding photos as inappropriate and removing the photos or even temporarily banning the posters. So, that is where I got these pictures, Facebook. Every single one of this second group of pictures was found by simply searching Facebook.
You know that disturbing and shocking turn I told you my research took...? Well, here it is. These photos were all taken from Facebook, but that isn't the worst of it, These photos are the TAME photos. Most of the photos I came across were so inappropriate I couldn't even post them here to make a point. BTW, the stars on the above pictures, I added those AFTER downloading them from PUBLIC Facebook pages. While I was searching I found nudity and pornographic picture, but I also found pornographic VIDEOS! This was all done by simply typing in "boobs" and "sexy" into the facebook search and looking at few pages that came up. Now, Facebook is considering allowing children under 13 onto their site (as if they weren't finding ways on already) and they have this filth all over the place. If you think I am exaggerating. please, do the search for yourself, but while your at it please report the disgusting images you find. Let's please show Facebook what is REALLY acceptable.
Explain to me why our society now deems breastfeeding in public gross and inappropriate, but hardcore pornography on a social networking site is just par for the course? We have gone so far down this road now that I truly fear we will never get back to a place where breastfeeding is again considered normal. This is why I ask you, honestly, what the hell is wrong with people?!
I would like to say a special thank you to all of the AMAZING mamas who provided the beautiful breastfeeding photos used in this post. You are strong, incredible women and you have some VERY lucky babies to have mommies like all of you!