Sunday, June 27, 2010

Breastfeeding is Creepy

According to Kathryn Blundell, deputy editor of Mother & Baby magazine (in the UK), breastfeeding is creepy.  She made the comments in an article entitled "I formula fed - so what?".

Blundell described her breasts as ‘part of my sexuality too, not just breasts, but fun bags. And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy.’

She went on to say how she rejected breastfeeding after the birth of her child because: ‘I wanted my body back. (And some wine)… I also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around my stomach.’

Just like the Campbell Live item last week on mothers feeling bullied because they formula feed, this article is completely unhelpful in the fight for women to make informed choices about feeding their baby.  This sort of misinformation (it's been proven that actually breastfeeding doesn't make your boobs sag) only perpetuates ridiculous stereotypes about breastfeeding being for hippies or formula feeding for women who are too sexually selfish to breastfeed or simply want to be able to head to the pub for a wine.

Sadly, Kathryn's opinion about breasts being solely sexual is one shared by a lot of women, even very pro breastfeeding women like myself have had that moment where my little one was first feeding and I think "oh, that's different."  Western culture simply does not have a breast feeding friendly bottom line.  Women's breasts are sexualised every day in media - TV and magazines constantly show photos of celebs with their breasts on display.  As a young woman growing up I never even contemplated that breasts were for anything other than showing off, breastfeeding wasn't something I ever saw around me so how could I have considered them for that?

And that's the solution.  Breastfeeding needs to be part of everyday life - the normal use for breasts.  If I ask my children what breasts are for they would reply "babies".  They've been breastfed themselves, they see my friends breastfeeding and it's simply part of their normal life and no big deal. 

Better Home & Gardens recently told breastfeeding mothers to do it in the toilet and received a huge backlash from 'Mommy Bloggers' - so much so it made it to mainstream media.  Blundell and Mother & Baby Magazine will no doubt deservedly receive similar treatment regarding the comments but it won't help.

Until we can completely shift to a mind set that breasts are naturally for feeding babies, mothers everywhere will face struggles to breastfeed and to not breastfeed.  I hope when my daughter has children we'll live in a society where breastfeeding isn't a choice - it's just the norm.

Does that mean that there is no sexual role for breasts to play at all?  No of course not.  We believe breasts can be both nurturing and sexual without being creepy - it doesn't have to be mutually exclusive.

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