The Unwarranted Judgment Surrounding Breastfeeding In America
Between the 1800′s and 1960′s, breastfeeding in the United States declined drastically. Breastfeeding during this time was something generally only practiced by the lower and uneducated class. During the 1960′s, feeding an infant by breast was considered disgusting — and people who could not afford infant formula were frowned upon. Fast forward to 2014, and our nation has come a long way in recognizing that breastfeeding, especially in public, is a nature way for a mother to feed her child, right?
While the media, medical providers and organizations have made great strides in advocating about the many health benefits of breastfeeding, truth be told, behind closed doors (and sometimes not even then,) breastfeeding is a dirty word. Despite all of the well-documented health benefits associated with breastfeeding, society still frowns upon a mother nursing her baby in a public setting.
Across the nation, women’s breasts and bodies are objectified. There are restaurants named after breasts, where women parade around in tight, revealing outfits, women who take off their clothes at strip clubs, women who flash men just to see their reaction, and women who star in pornographic films. What do all of these things have in common? Society does not frown upon a woman’s breasts “on display” for any of these purposes — but, when a woman breastfeeds in public, many people take offense and/or feel uneasy when breasts are visible.
A couple of weeks ago, Karlesha Thurman became the talk of the nation after a picture surfaced of her breastfeeding her 3-month-old daughter at her college graduation. Society reacted, and the majority of feedback was negative. People took to social media to voice their disapproval over the “incident.”
That picture of the girl breast feeding her baby at graduation was not "empowering" at all.
— Mexican Vampire (@lovelylooksz) June 9, 2014
Not to mention the fact that she took a picture. Like breastfeeding is one thing, at/during a graduation in public is another AND a picture?
— Slim. (@whatdidaprilsay) June 8, 2014
In many other countries around the world, breastfeeding in public is normal and routine as grocery shopping. Furthermore, mother’s who reside in countries that truly support breastfeeding in public are proud to breastfeed — whenever the baby wants to feed. But in the United States, a mother cannot sit on a bench in public and breastfeed without catching at least one judgmental glare.
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