On My Breast Behavior

Utterly sweet

So I took some heat for this photo that I posted on Facebook. After a quickly withdrawn comment, my Friend sent me the following message: “Hey Michelle – I really like that pic of you with both boobs hangin out and all, but don’t you think it’s a little much for Facebook? Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I think that you should keep that one private, or just for family…don’t mean to hurt your feelings or anything – just my opinion.”

This is a photo of me and the twins on Halloween and I had just fed them. They were dressed up as cows and I was wearing black and white, so I thought it was “utterly” adorable. It shows them after they’ve eaten but before I covered my breast back up with my bra. Although there is a lot of cleavage and side-boob in the shot, my nipples are completely hidden by their little heads.

I hadn’t been posting lot of pictures on Facebook (who’s got time) and don’t usually get many “likes” when I do. I limit my FB friends to people I know personally or with whom I have a familial or real life connection. In total, I have 106 Facebook friends, far less than the average 338. There is no one on that list that I wouldn’t breastfeed around. As a matter of fact, I have no qualms about breastfeeding in public (as I have a legally protected right to do – see reference below). I don’t feel like I need a cover that hides my babies’ faces from me either. A simple light blanket or burp cloth that shields their mouths and my nipples is just fine with me and they love the comfort that looking up and seeing mommy’s loving gaze brings.

First, I will address the whole “boobs hangin out” part of the comment. Everywhere you look in our culture, you see breasts. They have become synonymous with our sex crazed culture. Maybe that’s what bothered my friend so much. Perhaps that person has been so inundated with pop culture’s use of associating breasts with sex, that seeing them on display in a public forum being used in an innocent context was unsettling. What’s unsettling to me is that my children are growing up in a world where breasts being utilized for their intended use is criticized but you can’t turn on the TV, drive down the road or stand in a checkout line without seeing revealing imagines of the female body.

Commercials (during Prime Time):

sexy image 2  sexy image

Celebrities:

sexy image 3  sexy image 5
Magazines (at my 6 year-old’s eye level):

sexy image 4  sexy image
Billboard:

sexy image 6

Second, I will address the assertion that my friend “may be old-fashioned”. I believe the opposite to be true. It was only in the advancement of modern scientific discovery and innovation during the 1900s that the rise and fall of bottle feeding occur. Infant formula was advertised and touted as a perfectly equal substitute for breast milk. At the same time, the use of bottles became more prevalent. This is a statement from the National Center for Biotechnology: “Currently, many believe the development and advertisement of infant formula has once again negatively impacted the practice of breastfeeding. Although the breastfeeding rate was 90% in the 20th century, it has decreased to approximately 42% in the 21st century (Gaynor, 2003; Wright, 2007).” Although I’m sure my great, great grandmother would have objected to a bikini on the beach (or even a one-piece), I doubt she would have registered for an “utter cover.”
Check out these beautiful historical images of mothers breastfeeding:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/southerndisposition/25-historical-images-that-normalize-breastfeeding-jlw6
Warning: Below are some more adorable pictures (which I did not post of facebook)- for the squeamish – Look Away!
Breastfeeding  Breastfeeding Bella  Breastfeeding Brooks  Breastfeeding  Breastfeeding  breastfeeding

Finally, my feelings are not hurt. Thank you, Friend, for your concern.

Double Talk Quote: Me to Amor, who had asked how to tell if breast milk was still good while I was distracted washing bottles: “Well, you smell it, you taste it, and if it’s good, eat it!” – instead of saying if it’s good feed it to the babies.

Bible Verse: Exodus 2:7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.

Word that has Lost its meaning: Shame

Relatable Laws: NC § 14 190.9. Indecent exposure. (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breast feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.

November 23, 2014 (4 months, 4 weeks)

Update:  The Friend who sent me the message was my mother.

Advertisements

Comments on: "On My Breast Behavior" (9)

  1. Michelle, those pictures are SO beautiful. I can’t believe they hold hands while they’re eating, that’s adorable!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely LOVE this!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And I LOVE those historic photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am SOOOO impressed and inspired by you and this post! I immediately re-tweeted it today. This was so well written – you got your points across like a laser beam with both your words and the images. I’m glad that you’ve stood up for what you believe in! I’m right there with you. I breastfeed both my newborn & my 2&1/2 year-old toddler until I was diagnosed with bipolar & put on meds. I have lots of pictures of me breastfeeding them, some even with (gasp some nipple showing. Some folks gave me a hard time about breastfeeding my first girl for so long.

    As they young people are now saying, “Whatevs!”

    I couldn’t get over the contrast of the photos of the sexualized models (that our society deems “acceptable”) compared to photos of innocent breastfeeding that *should* be acceptable and aren’t. It’s so ridiculous beyond belief and sick!

    I was riveted by every word in this post and I loved the pictures too, especially the twins in their cow outfits! The title is fantastic and caught my attention right away.

    I think your “friend” was off the mark in the Facebook message. He/she should be concerned with the covers of “Shape” & “Cosmo” being a little “much” – not with your Facebook photos. If he/she doesn’t feel comfortable with your Facebook shots, then this friend can uncheck notifications.

    I wanted to suggest that you submit this post to Stigmama.com for consideration. It’s a great site and you could really inspire a lot of moms who are breastfeeding who live with mental illness and shame. I know you are super busy, but all you need to do is email Dr. Walker Karraa at:

    stigmamainfo@gmail.com

    In any case, thanks for a wonderful read! You rock!!!!
    xo
    Dy

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Dyane for taking the time to write such an encouraging and supportive reply. I also nursed my first daughter until her 3rd birthday! (I doubt I’ll make it that long with the twins though). Anyway, I’m definitely going to take your advice and make that submission. Thanks again so much for always being such a source of support!

    Like

  6. Hi,
    I love the pictures of your babies and there is something so precious about those pictures of them feeding.
    I just want to say that I am all for feeding in public and I completely understand not covering. It makes feeding harder and frankly, a public feeding is always less successful than when feeding at home. Trying to cover up to do it makes it additionally harder and less successful. If I saw you feeding anywhere in public, I would probably smile at you and think how great it is that you are breastfeeding both your babies and wondering how hard it is to keep it up. You should be proud to be feeding your babies from the breast and I hope you don’t get hassled for doing it in public.
    Of course, before I had my own child, I didn’t think the same way. My thought was that breastfeeding mothers shouldn’t make a big deal about covering up… I didn’t understand why that would be difficult. When you haven’t had to do it, it doesn’t seem like it would be difficult. Try to understand that others probably have no concept of the difficultly in breastfeeding, nor the added obstacle of trying to cover up. Take a mental note of the ignorance of others and try not to let it bother you.
    The problem I have with this post is that it is insinuating that someone has a problem with you publicly feeding. That’s not the case. You posted a picture with your twins covering your breasts on social media. I don’t think that’s the same thing. You said that you would breastfeed in front of all your Facebook friends, but you aren’t feeding, you’re posting a pic of bare breasts barely hidden by your babies. While on this site I expect to see pictures like these, I don’t expect to see them on Facebook. That picture would have made me uncomfortable as well. The reason is because I don’t understand your reasoning for posting this pic on Facebook. It seems like you are trying to get a reaction from people, and to make a spectacle of breastfeeding in public.
    I agree that our society has a messed up view of women, sexuality, nudity, and all kinds of things that are related to those topics. Posting loads of these pictures on social media aren’t going to change how people see the above topics. Teaching your children to be different can change the next generation. Let’s also not pretend that the reason that you posted that picture was to defy our nation’s view of public breastfeeding. Nor was it to change what kinds of nudity are accepted in public. You posted it to be cute and/or clever. I think it would have been both of those things with your breasts covered. Or perhaps you have a different reason? Regardless, I think that pictures of breastfeeding babies are now posted more for shock value now than to convey concern over the topic of publicly breastfeeding . Please don’t fault your friend being uncomfortable with your picture. If I was this friend, I would have been uncomfortable with the picture because of where it was posted and why. If I was with you in public or saw you in public my thoughts would probably be, “breastfeeding twins must be exhausting! Good for her for sticking to it!” Many people are uncomfortable with seeing a woman feeding uncovered, and televised nudity isn’t the same thing. I think you should keep on feeding those beautiful babies wherever you need to. It’s a beautiful thing and not the easiest thing to commit to. Well done! Please don’t expect everyone to be comfortable seeing it or your mostly exposed breasts merely because you just finished feeding your babies.

    Like

    • To the above comment, the point of posting pictures like those above to a social media site is simply to share the beauty of what God has done.

      You cannot say I support public breastfeeding but not in certain places or social media outlets. You are trying to pass off two conflicting statements as both equally true and relevant.

      No woman who breastfeeds is trying to “get attention” any more than a physically fit man posting a topless picture to show off his abs or a female In a bikini with their rear end poked out. I see no one commenting on the attention seeking behavior of that subgroup of people and therein lies the problem.

      Breastfeeding should be a societal norm and everyday occurrence. Just as it is in other parts of the world, breasts in America CAN be seen as functional and beautiful as well as sexy.

      The only reason people feel uncomfortable with seeing it is because they are taught some how some way that it Is shameful or dirty to expose that part of your body.

      Why? Why is this shameful but it is not shameful for a man to flaunt his bare chest anywhere he pleases. A nipple is a nipple, the reason you are uncomfortable is because this is a WOMANS breast. It’s your personal issue and not ours. We should be fighting against this mysoginistic idea that women must abide by different rules of modesty than men. Our girls should be brought up that their body is functional as well as beautiful and that beauty doesn’t have to be tied to sexuality in any way but still be seen as sexy for more than their breasts. Beauty can just be beauty, skin can just be skin, and a baby eating can be just a baby eating. It doesn’t have to be a nudity or indecency issue. It can be just what it is; a beautiful moment between a mother and her babies. The world needs more beauty just like this.

      You always have the choice to look away. J

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: