Breastfeeding. Crossing The Line Between Legal And Appropriate.
Let's get something straight right out of the gate. I am of the "Feed Your Baby However You Deem Best" school of mothering. My first baby was formula fed from months four to eleven and my second is still attached to my boob three to four times a day at fifteen months old.
I don't believe that I shortchanged my first nor do I believe that my second is smarter, healthier or more well adjusted because of the decisions I made in regards to feeding them.
I am a major proponent of breastfeeding if and when applicable. I've nursed my babies on a boat, on a plane, on a train and in no less than ten states. You need a boobie cheerleader? I will more than gladly be your girl but this post isn't about all that.
This post is about how Lucy Eades embarrassed me as a breastfeeding mother.
I find myself feeling a little (okay, a lot) frustrated and embarrassed by the recent actions of Lucy Eades, the Texas breastfeeding mother who "put a woman who asked her to cover up in her place."
If you're unfamiliar with Mrs. Eades, and how she was granted this esteemed title, you can watch the viral video here.
The long and short of that video is that Mrs. Eades was breastfeeding her relatively new baby in a public recreation area while in attendance of her older daughter's dance class . An employee of the rec area asked Mrs. Eades to cover up on not one but two separate occasions to which Mrs. Eades launched into what can certainly be considered a semi-tirade professing her legal right to breastfeed wherever and whenever. I shouldn't even have to mention that the employee also offered her a more "accommodating" place to nurse her baby to which she declined but for what it's worth, that occurred as well.
The behavior and tone of Mrs. Eades during this encounter screams nothing but lactation activism to me, the kind that makes me cringe a little. As does the fact that her husband whipped out his cell phone to record the encounter saying, "this is going to be fun!" and immediately posting it to the family YouTube Channel as if to say, "look how poorly and unfairly my breastfeeding wife was treated!"
This video, a flagrant "rah rah for breastfeeding mothers everywhere" sadly leaves a sour taste in my mouth, much like that of of curdled milk. Ironic, no?
I believe there is a fine line between what is legal and what is appropriate.
Lucy Eades was in attendance of her young daughter's dance class. In the video she is present before a reception desk with her uncovered breast in her baby's mouth, her husband at the ready with his camera.
This action alone screams, "Go ahead. Try and tell me I'm offending you. I dare you."
Mrs. Eades had every legal right to breastfeed in the public space of that recreational facility. She had every legal right to decline the use of another more "accommodating space" in which to feed her baby. Her husband had every legal right to video that encounter and post it to their highly popular family YouTube channel.
I believe, however, what Mrs. Eades was doing, although legal, was very inappropriate given the situation and surroundings.
Comments have poured since the video's posting regarding how it was Eades' legal right to breastfeed in that building and how "society overly sexualizes breasts" and "breasts are for feeding babies!"
Furthermore, many commentators feel that "maybe if more young children saw women breastfeeding, they wouldn't grow up so narrow-minded."
Where do I even start.
It is not my responsibility as a breastfeeding mother to serve as a lesson to educate your child on the purpose of women's breasts. If you want your children to grow up believing that breasts are first and foremost not sexual objects but rather vehicles designed to feed and nourish offspring that is your responsibility as his or her parent. Not mine. This isn't National Geographic.
I will raise my sons to know and understand that breasts have dual purposes and I do not expect him to learn this from watching other mothers breastfeed their children.
Yes, some women's breasts can feed and nourish babies. That is an absolute black and white truth but that is not simply their sole functionality. Breasts are also objects of sexuality to quite a number of men and women of the human race and whether or not that is the fault of society, media or evolution is a whole other argument that I am not prepared for nor remotely interested in. The functionality of breasts is two-fold. There is no getting around that and I'm not sorry but I don't see that's changing anytime soon. That proverbial horse is dead. Beat another.
Mrs. Eades didn't need to be walking up to a reception-type desk at that very moment with her baby exposed quite publicly at her breast. Her husband didn't need to be stage right with his camera at the ready.
This isn't a Mommy War. This isn't about breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding versus formula feeding. That employee, from what I can gather from the video, wasn't shaming Mrs. Eades, telling her she shouldn't be breastfeeding her baby, but rather, the employee was simply asking that she show a bit of discretion about doing so in a public forum. The facility, declared proponents of breastfeeding, even offered her a more private space to do so.
This video is progressive sensationalism at its finest, a sucker punch to the boob of even myself, a breastfeeding advocate and mother who is so proud of her success in nursing her child for fifteen months.
Lucy Eades plays "victim" while she is "harassed" and "bullied" regarding the manner in which she is choosing to feed her baby.
In reality, I feel worse for the facility employee who was on the receiving end of Lucy's tirade, a pawn in what can best be described as a publicity stunt. Popular YouTube Channel, say what? This attention-seeking video is a distasteful portrayal of what it's like to be a breastfeeding mother.
I promise, we're all not that intense.
Just because I breastfeed my baby doesn't mean I need to display said action in all of its glory and wait for someone to approach me and question my actions. Just because it is my legal right to do so anywhere and everywhere and without a cover, doesn't mean I should, need to or have to do so.
If Mrs. Eades wants to make it her personal mission to #normalizebreastfeeding and educate the public, young children and men and women everywhere that it is her legal right to breastfeed without a cover anywhere and everywhere, so be it.
However, I believe there are other appropriate ways of going about doing so.
Perhaps if she wants the public to respect her decisions, then maybe she ought to show a little discretion and respect theirs. This doesn't mean she needs to dress in a canvas poncho and feed her baby in a dingy bathroom stall, because I know that's exactly what some of you may interpret me as saying.
She could have just as easily nursed her baby in a corner of that very same room without a cover and I'm 97% certain the public would have been none the wiser. I won't even mention how I'm sure she could have just as easily nursed her baby in her air conditioned car in the parking lot, too, because then you'll tell me that she probably doesn't even have a car. She probably walked there.
Let me let you in on a little secret. You can be discreet while nursing your baby in public without using a cover. You can be discreet while nursing your baby in public without showing skin that may be confused as "sexual" in nature.
I've been shamed for breastfeeding in public while using a cover. I've had men change their seats at a Panera because they felt uncomfortable while I nursed my infant son beneath a cover. Shaming a breastfeeding mother is uncalled for but shaming one who is showing discretion worse. It's undoubtedly a contributing factor to the growing percentage of new mothers who abandon nursing their babies during the first six months of life.
Just as it's not my responsibility as a nursing mother to educate your children on the primary purpose of a woman's breasts, it's also not my responsibility to make you feel comfortable with my actions.
I am not any less of a breastfeeding mother because I choose to do so discreetly. However, I can certainly show a little extra respect and discretion if it means we can all coexist happily in a public space, something that I think Mrs. Eades can work on.
But nobody wants to see a YouTube video of that, now do they?