Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Breastfeeding: Public Nudity and Sexual Exhibitionism?

There are a lot of messed up things in this world. Breastfeeding is not one of them.

Over the past two weeks, we've been bombarded with stories of products and offerings that not only prey on the innocence of children, but can ultimately be destructive to them as they develop into individuals. First there was news a few months back of Abercrombie offering "push up triangle" string bikini tops for children as young as 7 and 8:  Next came the Sketcher Shape Ups for children so they can firm up their legs and butts:  And the final straw came just last week, when a mother went on national TV describing how she gives her young daughter injections of Botox in order to help her keep up with the competitive pageant circuit:

What the fuzzball??

Yes, Abercrombie has changed it's online description of the controversial bikini top from "push up" to "removable padding". Sketchers has said it is only encouraging young girls to exercise (because I guess regular sneakers can't be used for exercise?). And the Botox-injecting mom has lost custody of her daughter as she is being investigated by child services in California. Public outcry - most likely from the mama bears - was heard loud and clear.

So with all these messed up things going on all around us (the above being only a teeny, tiny example of the extent of the foolishness), why has local government decided to target an issue that doesn't harm - but instead helps - children. It's healthy. It's natural. It's not offensive. And a small suburb of Atlanta, GA - Forest Park, GA - has just banned it. What is it? BREASTFEEDING!!

That's right. Forget about crime rates, about unemployment, about government corruption - the local government of Forest Park, GA has decided to focus it's time, energy and tax-payer dollars on banning breastfeeding in public. Think I'm lying? Read about it here: and here

Here are the "highlights":
A new law in metro Atlanta will ban breastfeeding a child older than 2 in public areas as part of a public indecency ordinance, reports WSB-TV, a local ABC affiliate. 
On Monday evening, in a misguided effort to prevent public nudity, a new public indecency ordinance was passed in Forest Park, Georgia, a small city about 9 miles south of Atlanta. According to the new law, women cannot publicly breastfeed a child older than 2 years of age. City manager John Parker said of the law, “It sets up a process whereby we can try to control nudity throughout the entire city,” and called it a proactive step.
Control public nudity?! What is really going on in Forest Park?! Is public nudity that rampant among its residents? I'm sorry - but this is one of the most foolish things I've ever heard of.

And right after reading these articles, I came across another "controversy" - is it wrong for young children to pretend they are breastfeeding their dolls and stuffed animals? Read the discussion here:

Are people seriously concerned about this?! Miss Paige imitates everything I do - you should see her pretend to talk on a cell phone! It's hilarious! The other day she got a hold of a makeup brush and started imitating me putting on bronzer. And when Lil D is born in just a few weeks, I expect Miss Paige to most likely imitate me breastfeeding him (fingers crossed that it works this time around!!) with her own dolls and stuffed toys. It's just the way kids are - they imitate their parents as they learn and grow. I really can't believe people have a problem with it. I just don't get it.

I have to wonder if the lawmakers of Forest Park, GA really equate breastfeeding with sexual exhibitionism? And people who are uncomfortable with children imitating their mothers breastfeeding really see it as over-sexualization of our youth? According to their actions, they do. Since when is breastfeeding sexual?? Push up padded string bikini tops for 7 year olds? Definitely attempting to sexualize children. Breastfeeding? No way. Getting 7 year old to worry about firming their butts and thighs? Unnatural and unhealthy. Watching a mom breastfeed her baby? The most natural and healthy act a child can witness a mother do. Shooting a child's face up with poison? INSANE! Shooting breastmilk all over your child's face while trying to nurse? Hehe... just kidding. I was trying to keep the comparisons going : )

Even though I wasn't able to breastfeed Miss Paige and began using formula after a few weeks of failed attempts to nurse, I still see the value in breastfeeding and respect all the mamas out there who are able to offer their children such a gift. And mamas who couldn't breastfeed for any number of reasons (like me) or made a choice not to - I respect you too! Because being a mama is hard work. We need to respect each other and support the choices of our fellow mamas - and fight against the craziness that tries to tear us apart.

Can I get an Amen? : )