Most breastfeeding mums have had that time when they’re
feeding their baby in a public place and caught a glimpse of a dirty look.
Feeding your baby is perfectly natural, yet there’s a huge taboo around this.
Recently there have been very publicised incidents of mums boycotting – or staging mass feeding events – outside places such as Sports Direct where a breastfeeding mum was asked to leave.
And more recently a mum was asked to cover up with a napkin at a top London hotel while she was breastfeeding.
Tabloid paper The Sun covered the latter story, but told its readers that breastfeeding was ‘natural, just like urinating’, adding, ‘but when we want to do that we go into a little room and do it in private.’
Some might say this is a little bit rich coming from a paper that has sold millions as a result of its Page 3 spreads.
So much so that days after dropping its famous page, the paper did a U-turn and told readers it had a ‘mammory lapse’.
Of course Page 3 hasn’t been without its protestors with a range of campaigns to stop this, but why is it deemed as ‘OK’ – it’s obviously not just men that buy the paper – seeing a glamour model proudly with her baps out, when breastfeeding in public still has a taboo attached?
Let’s take a look.
Firstly – and we’ve said this before – breastfeeding is natural and let’s face it, glamour isn’t (regardless of whether you think it’s right or wrong).
In fact, it’s two very different scenarios with one thing in common. Boobs.
Breastfeeding mums will cover up, but there’s the print and real-life theory here. Seeing something in real life and print, or on TV, affects our brains differently.
For example, watching a murder on TV is not the same as seeing it in real-life. And the same applies to boobs.
Print is almost ‘not real’ in comparison to seeing a breastfeeding mum in front of you. Yes, you can turn away, but probably not as quickly as you could turn the next page of a newspaper.
Secondly it seems that the taboo of breastfeeding in public – no matter how much we cover up – has stuck. Little Tommy and his teenage mates have always had a sneaky look at Page 3 and while mums may not approve, many see it as ‘growing up’.
However, catch them looking at a woman breastfeeding and they are more likely to get a clip round the ear. Pass this thought on a few generations and you can see – not understand – where this difference comes from.
And talking about generations – the same probably applies to that granny who will have a little tut. In their times we imagine breastfeeding was kept to the privacy of the bedroom. And as sexist as it sounds, their other halves were allowed to have a little gawp at ‘racy pictures’.
None of this makes the divide and taboo right, but it could shed some light on why women breastfeeding in public get such stick.
However, one thing links us all when it comes to the Page 3 and breastfeeding debate, we’ll never all agree.
Thankfully we live in a democracy where we have the freedom to make our own choices on both.