A breastfeeding mom in the U.K. was photographed by an anonymous person, and then the photo was uploaded to a Facebook page where she was labeled a "tramp" for nursing her baby in public. She is now organizing a breastfeeding protest and hopes to educate people on why photographing a nursing mom and uploading it without her permission is simply wrong.
Breastfeeding a baby is an essential act, one that provides not only nutrition, but a special form of nurturing from a mother to her baby. Unfortunately, nursing in public continues to be a controversial option for moms, even though it's a legal one. From being asked to cover up to being ordered to leave public areas, breastfeeding in public — despite its function as a way to feed your child — still has a long way to go to become accepted by many.
However, Emily Slough, a 27-year-old mother of two from Rugeley in Staffordshire, was the victim of a type of bullying that is unfortunately made easier by cell phones, social media and easy access to the internet. Recently, she was sitting down on the steps of a restaurant having lunch while nursing her 8-month-old daughter. Without her knowledge or consent, she was photographed and then submitted to a Facebook page called Spotted Rugeley with the following caption: "I know the sun is out n all that but there's no need to let your kid feast on your nipple in town!!! Tramp."
Slough's reaction is totally understandable, yet her attitude is refreshing. "I was utterly appalled that someone took the time and effort to attempt to shame and humiliate me while I was feeding my daughter," she explains. "However I thank them for bringing attention to how nursing mothers face criticism and non-acceptance. I didn't realize that people felt this way. To me it is a perfectly normal act, it's clear now that something has to be done to educate those opposed to public feeding, and encourage other mothers to do it. I am so saddened to hear from mothers who have been put off breastfeeding altogether by this negative attitude."
This incident has resonated with many, and Slough is garnering worldwide support — this incident, after all, can happen anywhere. And the premise behind the original action needs to be addressed. "I'm constantly frustrated by adults sexualizing breastfeeding," says Rachelle, owner of the popular Facebook page Unlatched. "Breastfeeding is a normal biological function. Mothers' bodies are able to grow a baby and nourish them, too. Just because breasts can be used sexually, it does not mean breastfeeding is sexual. Adults need to be more mature."
Paala, who also runs a popular blog and Facebook page, feels the same. "Someone in the U.K., a country with one of the lowest breastfeeding rates, thought it was acceptable to post a photo of a mother meeting the needs of her child, calling her a tramp," she says. "The way we treat our mothers says a lot about our values as a society."
The original photo and the Facebook page have since been taken down, but Slough is now organizing a nurse-in in response to the incident. "This is my first experience!" she shares when asked if she considers herself a breastfeeding advocate before now. "I've never had a reason to fight back before, this person gave me one."
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