Yes, Salt Spring is a pretty great place to feel supported raising children in a natural way. Still, though, there have been comments made to the tune of “cover those sweater puppies up” when breasts are brought out to nourish our youngsters. I like to think this is coming from tourists (oh, poor tourists, taking all the blame when something goes awry here), but I really don’t know.
Plus, you can’t I can’t spend my entire life on this hippy-hearted island. At some point, you have to face the booby-bashing looks and comments of those who find public nursing unacceptable.
Sometimes when I whip out my mummeries to breastfeed in public (which is actually far more subtle than it sounds like), I feel like a gay man. Although I can’t honestly say I have a direct understanding of how it feels to be judged as a man-loving man, I can relate to having your sexuality be viewed as more central to who you are and what you’re doing than the completely innocent and worthwhile things you are going about, unobtrusively, in day to day life.
When a woman nurses in public, sometimes shocked and judgemental eyes peer at you, as if to say “What you’re doing is wrong” and “Quit parading your pompoms”. Sometimes the rude looks become even ruder comments.
For some silly reason (thanks media and a long-standing power struggle to keep women objectified and under serious scrutiny), people see a boob and think “bow chicka bow bow” rather than “nature is so amazing to provide such practical equipment”. To me, this is so completely un-natural.
Yes, milk-makers can be attractive. Yes, they can also be fondled and made use of for pleasurable purposes. But, so can necks. And legs. Ear lobes even. And you don’t see many people (in our culture) running around covering up every part of their body that’s ever been touched during a steamy session of “the horizontal hula”.
Actually, it seems we’re encouraged to show off our “sexy” attributes. Short skirts bare lusty legs, low-cut tops crop cleavage just so, earrings dangle from lobes, accentuating necks and collar bones, and tight-fitting trousers define our rear ends.
But flash a little bit of side-boob while latching on a child that is crying to be fed or comforted? To the depths of hell with you, you slutty show-off, you!! Bring on the parkas and turtle necks!
Cover yourself up, woman! You’re making it look like these fleshy funbags have an actual use. I wouldn’t want my poor, innocent children to catch a glimpse of your “naughty parts” and encourage them or their future partners to build a healthy concept of what a woman’s body is about. They might want to actually nourish their children the way bodies are meant to when they’re older! They might actually respect a woman for what she’s made to do, rather than what she can look like and feel like!
No, no, smother yourself and your babe with a heavy, air-stifling blanket in the heat of summer, you filthy hippie. I’ll cover my children’s eyes here, and take them home to practice their “hot moves” they learned from watching Miley Cyrus on MTV.
So nursing mamas, when you’re in a situation where you’re feeling judged about offering nourishment and comfort to your little one, remember that every time you nurse in public, you are making it more common place. You are adding another instance whereby what is natural can return back to being viewed as “normal”. You are helping other humans of all ages to understand that this is what our bodies are for, and we shouldn’t be so shameful of ourselves.
Just like an openly gay man, by openly being who you are by nursing your child when they need it, wherever you are, you are helping to bring awareness and acceptance to the fact that this is a life choice that can be made. I’m not advocating for making a show out of what’s natural, or to plaster close up photos of your milk-guzzling sessions all over the internet (although I’m certainly not going to judge you if you do), but what I AM encouraging you to do is to let go of others judgements and preconceived ideas of what is “appropriate” in order to do what you need to do for your child, when they need it. And of course, if you do post your close-up nursing photos, or prefer to nurse privately, no judgement here! It’s all about personal choice and comfort.
Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding was the best choice for you and your child, let’s all be supportive in the different choices we make for our unique situations. Either way, you’re a great mom! But if you or someone you know still could use a little perspective on why one chooses to nurse their child, here is the best article I’ve seen on this subject.
Do you feel comfortable nursing in your community? How do you deal with scrutiny?