Sunday, May 11, 2014

Of Milk And Melons

Nothing says Mother’s Day like breastfeeding, and thanks to a University of North Texas student ad campaign supporting pro-breastfeeding in public, I get to discuss my favorite topic: breastfeeding in public!

The other day, I read an article about the assignment of junior graphic-art majors Jonathan Wenske and Kris Haro, which required them to design and ad campaign for a social issue or product, as though it were for a paying client.

Their campaign, “When Nurture Calls,” features images of three different mothers nursing their babies in public bathroom stalls. The ads include such catchy phrases as “Table for Two” and “Private Dining” and they ask the question, “Would You Eat Here?”

Well, OF COURSE you would not eat your lunch in a bathroom stall is the natural conclusion most of us draw from what I thought to be a clever ad campaign.

But, as usual, the issue of public breastfeeding raises the heckles of a surprisingly large population of folks who, in their feedback to Wenske and Haro, refer to breasts as “goodies” and “sex organs.”

Really, people? 

Can we get over vilifying mothers for using their breasts for their intended purpose?

Here is the answer:  No. We cannot. Not when women continue to be objectified and our body parts seen as commodities.

I get it— breasts are fascinating. They are big and mysterious and round and sexy. But their main function is to feed babies. Face it.

Yet, the pervading idea still exists that a woman’s breasts are better served up in an erotic way, where they can be ogled freely, without her cumbersome offspring suckling them. I mean, nothing ruins a good sexual fantasy like some hungry baby getting in the way of the object of your lust. Pesky progeny. Fellas, amiright?

Have you checked out a magazine aisle lately? They are besot with covers that seem, primarily, to be an advertisement for boobies. Airbrushed photos of Hollywood’s most luscious melons adorn the covers of practically every magazine. And that’s just the women’s magazines. The men’s mags are worse.

Does the word “Maxim” mean anything to you? A quick search of the magazine title immediately yields a library of images revealing so much skin it looks like a dermatology ad. Or possibly an orgy ad. It’s kind of hard to tell. Every single cover displays lots of boobage—several covers featured completely naked women. The Sports Illustrated swim suit cover, which is currently on display at a child’s eye-level at my Walgreen’s, depicts three supermodels, clad only in thongs and naked from the waist up.

Yeah. But they aren’t nursing babies, so, you know, no public outcry over the juicy doubles that jump out and smack you up side the head. I guess it’s only erogenous female breasts used to sell sex (or cologne, cars, make up, cheeseburgers) that we will tolerate in public. I mean, Carl’s Jr.and GoDaddy treat us to several minutes of soft porn every Super Bowl Sunday.

It’s a topic that continues to push my buttons, long after the last of my 11-year milk supply has dried up. But I still stand with any mother who wishes to feed her child without being accused of trotting out her “goodies” or “sex organs," when all she really aims to do is sooth, nurture and nourish her child.

I say, make yourself at home, Mother, whether you are in the lobby of your bank, the Target shoe department, or the Cracker Barrel. Most people will understand that you are feeding your child, not tempting other patrons with your milky, sore, tired breasts that you vaguely remember being second-trimester-perky.

There will still be those that stare at your chest, insulted by your brazen resolve to feed your baby. Don’t mind them. They’re just a handful of misguided haters.

And more than a handful is a waste.