Friday, March 21, 2014

So You Want to Normalize Breastfeeding?

I get it, I get it. I'm just as irritated by the double standard as the next lactating woman.
It's perfectly acceptable for the media to the local mall to throw images that glorify cleavage,
airbrushed skin and all, in our faces. Supposedly they're trying to sell a "pair of blue jeans",
but apparently jeans don't sell well without boobs. Who knew?

And this activity is seen as "normal". I'd say it's even "expected" and "applauded."
The shocking amount of skin, in public, in general, to be seen is blessed and forgiven.
People just smile, chat, maybe steal a glance or two, and move on. It sells.

But throw a breastfeeding woman on a public park bench and I can guarantee the smiles
will fade into quizzical eyebrows, the chatting will turn to gossiping, and suddenly everyone
forgets what their momma taught them about STARING.

Call me Feisty Pants, but if you're going to stare at me, I'm going to stare right back.
I breastfed my two babies, shamelessly. I'm not a woman of the "cape", but I know enough
to be discreet, modest.

And then you have the people posting pictures all over social media.

(I don't even think that's the official name, but you catch my drift.)

I know you know what I'm talking about. Women with good intentions, showing more skin than
I think they honestly would if sitting in a public setting, demanding that the world look at them
and "ok" the situation... "because if you're cool with Victoria's Secret ads then you
better be cool with this, gosh darn it."

I grew up in a community where it was rare to NOT see a woman breastfeeding.
My mom breastfed me and my four siblings and bottles were basically "toys" for
baby dolls or completely taboo.

This isn't coming from a boob-o-phobe or anything (remember I don't use capes or duck
into a dressing room when breastfeeding), but I don't think I'm ok with the approach the NORMALIZE
BREASTFEEDING movement is taking. Honestly, I think they're coming at it all from the wrong angle.

Here's why:

The images and attitudes I see on social media typically (not always) come across as harsh,
offended, and "in your face." In most cases, I'm just shaking my head, sarcastically thanking
that woman in my head for shoving what is and should be "normal" into the face of the world -
MAKING IT NOT NORMAL, awkward, and uncomfortable for all.

Breastfeeding is NORMAL *cheer*.
I'd go as far as to say that I believe it's a SACRED EXCHANGE between a mother
and her child - one that brings life. It's a HOLY EXPERIENCE to nourish and be nourished through
the sacrifice of the body; a woman's body - doing what it was made to do.

And that's why I think they're coming at it all from the wrong angle.
We don't need the images in our Instagram feed to remind us that breastfeeding is normal -
keep that HOLY EXPERIENCE, that SACRED EXCHANGE, as your precious secret or memory.
Not to be all covered up and tucked away from the eyes of the world where you just
happen to be in that moment, but to be done, enjoyed, lived out... like breathing.

Breathe. And maybe then, people won't feel so guarded, but invited in to your normal.

It's a BIG BATTLE to undo what has been done in regards to the way people have been
programed, trained, invited to view breasts. I mean, because they are obviously there to
sexualize any situation and sell blue jeans. NOT to feed your baby.

It's more involved than just normalizing breastfeeding via social media.
It's about changing the hearts of a culture.

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