In case you live on an internet-free planet (Ahem. Please send directions), let me be the first to inform you that August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month! Which is kicked off by World Breastfeeding Week!
“Brelfies” are encouraged. Images of Nic Trunfio nursing on the cover of Elle Australia are lobbed around Instagram and moms are encouraged to share their nursing journeys on Facebook.
As a nursing mother myself, I think Breastfeeding Awareness Month is a great tool that can hopefully help to normalize the act of feeding one’s child with one’s boob – especially in public.
What we tend to forget is that although breastfeeding is a non-issue to tons of people (moms especially), it still makes others extremely uncomfortable; which is insane, because nobody who is complaining about a woman nursing on a park bench even thinks twice when they see a half naked woman sprawled across a billboard on the QEW. And that’s why breastfeeding needs a month… Because that’s fucking crazytalk.
The oversexualization of the female form has become so commonplace, that when people see breasts being used for their originally intended purpose, it makes them uncomfortable. Because of that, mothers feel uncomfortable – They retreat to bathrooms to nurse. They rush to their cars. They buy nursing covers, under which it’s difficult to latch a newborn and older babies tend to get all hot and bothered.
Nursing photos are still reported and taken down from social media (whereas your sexy bikini pic gets 200 likes and comments).
This whole clusterfuck of shame, sexualization and misunderstanding is no one person’s fault because it’s SOCIETY’S fault, and that’s why we need to increase the awareness – Awareness of the hypocrisy of it all, and awareness of the effect that’s having on women’s decisions to nurse.
Breastfeeding Awareness Month also serves to educate people on the difficulties associated with breastfeeding, including but not limited to:
Breastfeeding is no joke. It is work (especially in the beginning). When we normalize THAT, then women don’t have unwarranted expectations of ease, and therefore, they avoid sore disappointment when their experience is less than rainbows and unicorns.
But of course, on the internet especially, there can never be a cause that can stand alone without people trying to make it about them.
“Bottle feeding is beautiful too.”
“FED is best.”
REALLY, PEOPLE? Do you also post #alllivesmatter comments on #blacklivesmatter posts? (If you still think doing so is ok, please refer to the breakdown below that will hopefully help you realize how fucking ridiculous you sound).
Of course FED IS BEST. Nobody is suggesting that you should either breastfeed or make your baby starve. The point is that we need to make the world a less hostile environment for women who choose to breastfeed and to do so in public. In order to accomplish that, we need to talk about breastfeeding, and share images of what it really looks like so that when people see a mother nursing openly in a restaurant, nobody feels the need to tell her to cover up (yes, THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS).
Now, I do feel the need to touch on formula feeding because I often feel like that shit needs its own “awareness month”. Moms get tons of flack for NOT nursing – especially within the mom community. They’re shamed, told that they didn’t try hard enough, reminded of all the things that make breast milk the “perfect” baby food and all the things that make formula inferior. Fuck that noise. I think we need to school formula shamers (hence, THIS post) on all the reasons why they need to mind their own damn business (hence, THIS post), but that, in my opinion, does not negate the need to dedicate a month to normalizing breastfeeding
Can we not all agree to focus on one cause at a time. Can we not just shut the hell up if something isn’t working directly toward making OUR lives easier or better, so long as it’s making life easier or better for someone else?
Do we need a month dedicated to building awareness about all the judgmental bullshit women have to deal with on the regular? Yeah. We probably do. Maybe we can put in a request for September (#virgoszn). But it definitely can’t be August. August is already dedicated to an important cause – can we all just agree to leave it that way?