Breastfeeding in Public – Why it is so important!

When I began the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project in 2013, the discussions about breastfeeding in public were somewhat hush. I admit even I was a little cautious putting my photos out there. It was like going out on a limb just to see what would happen. But the response was amazing. So many mothers, grandmothers even fathers/husbands were thrilled to have an opportunity to voice their support and vent their frustration. Fast forward to today when public figures like Kathie Lee and Hoda are stirring the pot – just cuz.  One would think we’ve made more progress than this, but with the rise of #brelfies and several powerful women advocating for the rights of breastfeeding mothers I know we are headed in the right direction!

I am pleased with the attention the recent ELLE Australia cover of model Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding her son Zion is receiving. However, that cover never made it onto newsstands. Editor Justine Cullen decided it was not suitable for newsstands, stating that her decision was a “commercial” one, reiterating that her job is to “sell magazines”. She also felt that the alternate cover for newsstands

“will appeal to the widest possible audience”and that “In an ideal world no one would have an issue with seeing breastfeeding on the cover of a magazine. But it’s not an ideal world.”

Well you’re certainly not willing to help get us there, are you Ms. Cullen? But guess what? I am! I received an inquiry from an ABC reporter yesterday morning to comment on the incident. My response to ABC yielded a telephone interview, which then lead to a spot on national television. The segment aired last night on ABC News Nightline HERE.

I liked the piece they put together, barring any comments about full breast exposure, obnoxious brelfies, and the need to censor a baby’s bottom. I would have liked there to be some focus on the NEED for exposure to breastfeeding. Not just the justification of it. Because by seeing it, it becomes more normal. Plain and simple. Also? Society’s support is paramount to a breastfeeding mother’s success. Mothers are HIDING in their cars, restrooms, sometimes not leaving their homes at all – because they do not want to face this kind of public scrutiny. It is very difficult to meet your breastfeeding goals (2 years as per WHO’s recommendation) if you cannot breastfeed your baby on demand, which means anytime and anyWHERE they get hungry.

Furthermore I talked a lot about the objectification of women being a major cause for this kind of judgement. And that was not included. The image of Nicole stirs up a lot of questions, like “What am I supposed to be looking at? Her? Because clearly she’s gorgeous. Or baby? Who’s – wait a minute – breastfeeding”… (scratches head in primeval confusion). Society can’t seem to accept that a woman can be both visually appealing and breastfeeding at the same time. Because our impression of the female body is that it can either be sexual or functional, but not both. And it’s against our inhibitions to separate the purpose of the mother who is nursing in public at the grocery store from the gorgeous model who is purposefully appealing while doing it. Interesting discussion for sure.

Truly we are in a time where women are just fighting to be valued for who they are – including but not limited to their appearance. And with all that comes a need to feel empowered.  Empowered to think, say, do as we please, not just as women but mothers. Stop the judgement and ridicule already and trust us to follow our instincts for what is right for us/our families! We have been trusted with this amazing body which grows life, and sustains it! That is worth celebrating!!!

To follow The Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project, visit us HERE.

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Award winning birth and newborn photographer, serving the Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock and surrounding areas.


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