#NormalizingNursing: The Public Breastfeeding Movement
By Stephanie Glover, Web Producer/Digital Journalist - email
Bare breasts showcased in a public forum….appropriate or inappropriate? That is the question forming the basis of many conversations online lately.
Mothers across the country have joined forces via the ‘Normalizing Nursing’ initiative to address this issue. The Normalizing Nursing in Public League’s mission is to spread information and support regarding a family's right to feed their child without negativity. Nursing in public, also known as NIP, is protected by law in many states.
According to the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition, North Carolina law states that “…a woman may breastfeed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.” This means that a breastfeeding mother is not in violation of indecent exposure laws.
When breasts belonging to A-list stars are showcased in sexy lingerie on television or printed in your favorite publication, it seems to be acceptable. Rihanna recently debuted a completely see-through dress at a fashion event, baring her breasts to the world. She did get some negative criticism from it, but many found ways to justify this display saying it is tolerable and just a sign of the times.
You will often see alluring, sexy images of breasts being presented in the fashion industry. But what about witnessing a bare breast in the mouth of an infant being nourished by their mother?
A member of the Facebook group, Black Women Do Breastfeed, sent a message to the group venting about the problems she has encountered trying to breastfeed her baby in public.
"....people kill me, such hypocrites, it's ok for women to twerk for Instagram, post half naked pics in boy shorts or glorify pics of celebs literally exposing It ALL," she said. "If I choose to feed my baby covered or uncovered it's MY choice, no mom should ever have to feel bad or embarrassed about having to feed her baby!"
“So many women are either unaware of their rights or shamed into feeding their children in unsafe ways because of societies negative views. It is our hope that the more normal we make it, the more accepted it will become by society and that maybe our daughters or granddaughters won't need to hide,” said NNIPL on Facebook.
This movement really picked up steam when an Instagram photo of model Ashley Nicole breastfeeding her baby went viral in March. The new mother and girlfriend of Miami Dolphins’ Phillip Wheeler posted the photo of her baby clutched to her chest only exposing the skin above her breast. Her other breast was completely covered.
“Was on the way out the door but then mommy duty called ... Everything stops for him! #breastisbest #natureisbeautiful,” said Nicole on Instagram. Words many used to describe the image were “vulgar,” “inappropriate” or “disgusting.” Some even labeled the model an “attention-whore”. The negative feedback got so bad Phillip Wheeler spoke to TMZ on her behalf, saying, “I wish everybody would just leave it alone.”
Since Ashley Nicole’s photo went viral, other celebrity moms as well as mothers across the nation have opted to post photos of themselves breastfeeding. Actress Yaya DaCosta joined the movement saying, “I know I’m mad late, but I haven’t been on the computer much lately. Just heard about the uproar over @ash3nicole pic & had to post a copycat photo in solidarity. Hope you don’t mind, beautiful sistren. I’m so proud of you and stand by you! #breastisbest #whattheyaremadefor #getoverit #mamasunite #movement.”
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