Women are constantly told what to do with their bodies. How to dress, how to walk, how to talk… the list is never-ending. And if the so-called “society” doesn’t approve of our choices, we are forced to face unsolicited criticism and shaming. You would think they would know where to draw a line. But apparently, people don’t hesitate to give their unwanted and forceful suggestions even when it comes to deciding where and how women should feed their babies. Although there has been a wave of change with many fiercely advocating public breastfeeding and the right to feed their babies, women still face unwanted criticism, side-eyes and shaming for simply feeding their child. Here are 5 such incidents that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
1) The Malayalam Maganize Cover Which Went Viral
The Grihalakshmi magazine sparked outrage among many Keralites over the cover photo of their magazine that was published early this year. The photo was that of a woman breastfeeding her son. The caption on the cover loosely translates to, ‘Mothers tell Keralaties: Don’t stare, we need to breastfeed.’ While there were a few who applauded the initiative by the magazine, many thought it was vulgar and sexualized and really inappropriate. The magazine was in the eye of the storm for its cover and was even slapped with a case against the publishers and the model shown on the cover for what was featured (1). Who would’ve thought that something so natural would receive so much flak from the public? If people are uncomfortable around a women’s breast, maybe obscenity lies in the eyes of the beholder. What do you think?
2) Woman Asked To Leave The Pool For Breastfeeding
A Texas mom was asked to leave the pool by a pool manager because she refused to cover up or stop breastfeeding her baby. When the woman refused to leave, the authorities called the police to have her removed from the place (2). In spite of public breastfeeding being legal in Texas, people feel they have the right to tell a woman when, how, and where to nurse their child. When you are a breastfeeding mom, every opinion you receive conflicts with another and you’re sitting there wondering if you should wait till you get home or bottle-feed your child. What a shame!
3) When A Kolkata Mom Was Shamed
A mother who went to the South City mall in Kolkata couldn’t find a place to breastfeed her daughter after searching for half an hour. She was told by the staff to breastfeed in the toilet which the woman found to be disgusting. When the woman called out the mall on her social media post, the mall administrative gave a nasty reply reminding her to do the ‘home chores’ at home and not in the mall. They further went on to add that she should have made the arrangements beforehand as it is not their responsibility to make the arrangements for her at a public place (3). The post soon triggered public outrage and the mall later issued an apology for their insensitive comments.
4) When A Mother Had To Breastfeed On The Train Floor
Seriously, what has our world come to that people forget even the basic courtesy of offering their seat to a mom with her baby? The 22-year-old mum boarded the train in the England county of Shropshire along with her husband and her toddler, Chester. The mother had to stand for the whole 30-minute train journey as everyone refused to offer their seat, even the ones reserved for mothers. Later when Chester got hungry, the woman had no other choice than to nurse him by sitting on the floor (4).
5) When Hospital Shames Mom For Feeding Formula
A British hospital sparked outrage on social media when they issued a letter saying they would no longer be providing ‘artificial milk’ to new mums who have decided not to breastfeed. As soon as the letter was issued, it created a firestorm on social media with dozens of moms expressing their disagreement. Moms make a decision of feeding formula milk for various personal and health issues, and calling formula milk as artificial milk was a way of indirectly shaming them when they are already emotionally charged and devastated that they can not nurse their baby. Many agreed that hospitals need to be the ones who should be supporting mums in the hours after birth (5).
Women have the right to nurse their babies whenever and wherever they are hungry. It is the comfort of the mother and the baby that should be given utmost priority and not the other way around. It is solely a woman’s right to decide what they want to feed their baby, whether it is breast or formula milk. And it is high time that people understand they are not really entitled to share their opinion when it comes to mothers feeding their child (unless of course, you are a doctor).