This week I learned a few things about social media and breast feeding. Mainly that they don't mix, and that people have some strong opinions surrounding what is Facebook appropriate and what is not. Here's what happened:
This ugly photo happened. This is first thing in the morning, while I'm drinking coffee and baby boy is having his morning snack. This is not the photo I posted on social media, but it is the one that planted the seed that I should.
You see, breast feeding has become a huge part of my life the past ten and a half months. Perhaps that has made me calloused to its actual shock value. I breast feed, my friends breast feed, I don't really have any male friends besides dads to my friends babies. Boobs, in my world, are for food. I guess that my sleep-deprived brain forgot how sexualized our society has caused the breast to become... So I decided on a whim that I would give a little glimpse into what my life is like these days:
I posted this picture. I wondered if anyone would notice that I wasn't wearing makeup, or that my legs look short and chubby. Of course not. All they noticed is that my boob was in my son's mouth. I was shown a lot of support from a lot of lady friends on Facebook. However, a great debate ensued over this photo and whether or not it is Facebook appropriate. It then led to the great debate about whether or not a woman should cover up in public. This photo was called trashy, and it was pointed out how my son is pulling on my boob and looking at the camera. I was told he would be mortified to know that I posted a picture of him breast feeding on social media. Didn't I care that my father, my brother, my cousins, my in-laws and so on could see this photo?
Well, I suppose I just didn't think about it enough. It never occurred to me that something I do several times a day could be trashy. It never occurred to me that feeding your child, if exposed, could be totally inappropriate. It definitely never occurred to me that breast feeding could be considered nudity or pornography.
It also never occurred to me how passionate I really am about normalizing breast feeding. I understand why there are women standing up for breast feeding, and it's liberties. I have been inspired by The Leaky B@@b and The Badass Breast Feeder, but now I understand their purpose for existing. To support those of us who feed our children with our bodies, and to empower us to do so in the manner we feel like is right for us. Covered or not.
In regards to using a cover, I actually am a huge fan of it. I happen to own four nursing covers that I used diligently until about a month or so ago. Using a cover has become more like waving a flag for the world to look. It distracts him, he starts wailing his hands to uncover his face, people start looking at this printed material waving around, and next thing I know, I'm flashing the entire world! It just so happens that is a lot more discreet to just feed him and get it over with. The nursing cover worked for us for a long time, but it's not really what works for us anymore. Sure, I still use it in certain situations, but more often than not, it's just one more thing weighing down the diaper bag. Did I mention that using a nursing cover is HOT? Try putting your child under a blanket in the middle of summer. Talk about a sweat fest. Yuck.
I've got a lot of thoughts about all of this, and most of it is just from what I've experienced over the last ten months. I suppose it's important for me to remember that a lot of folks don't have any prolonged experienced with breast feeding. However, if I want to be proud of breast feeding, if I want to show off the fact that I've fed a happy, healthy, chunky twenty-five baby boy, then that's what I'm going to do. This is a big part of my life now. I will not cover that up.