indecent exposure breastfeeding mothers

Whitney Hempsey – Photographer + Breastfeeding Advocate on a Culture of Shame

Women from all walks of life have one thing in common: we want to give our children the best start possible. For some of us that means breastfeeding our babies. Some for a year or two, some longer. Whatever we choose to do as parents, the goal is giving our children the absolute best we have to give. It saddens me that women are shamed into feeling like they need to hide away in order to feed their children. Go to the bathroom, sit in your car, lock yourself away in a bedroom where no one is at risk of seeing part of your scandalous breasts. It’s just not right.

Breasts were created for babies. Breasts not only provide the perfect food for newborns and infants, they also provide amazing supplemental nutrition for toddlers and older children, they help regulate the child’s body temperature, they provide immunity, and all this for free. So why does our culture have such a problem with breastfeeding?

I hear the same things over and over, “I’m 100% pro breastfeeding, but….” Well, if there is a “but” then it’s not 100% is it? “I’m pro-breastfeeding, but just cover up.” Why? Many babies refuse to nurse under a cover and can you really blame them? In most cases when a woman is nursing there is nothing showing that wouldn’t be visible in a bathing suit or low cut top. Living in a beach town, I can confidently say that I see way more breasts on a trip to the beach or grocery store than I do in a group with an entire room full of breastfeeding women. So if those women walking around in their bikinis and revealing clothing aren’t being harassed into covering up, then why are breastfeeding women?

I can confidently say that I see way more breasts on a trip to the beach or grocery store than I do in a group with an entire room full of breastfeeding women.

Or what about “I’m 100% pro-breastfeeding, but that baby is too old.” Where exactly do people come up with these ages where a child is “too old”? Is it because it looks strange? Well yeah, because in our society we have been taught that breasts are sexual objects even though that is not backed by science. Yes, it is going to look out of place to see a three-year-old breastfeeding, because that isn’t something that is common in our society. I do not choose to parent based on society’s opinion of what I should be doing, but rather based on my own research, instincts, and intuition. Thankfully I have science on my side since both the AAP and the WHO recommend breastfeeding until AT LEAST two years of age and continuing as long as it is mutually desired by mother and child.

Science says breastfeeding toddlers is good, even normal. So why the fuss? I’m not sure, but whatever the reason, it needs to stop. Babies need to be left alone to eat in peace whenever, wherever, and however they are comfortable without fear of ridicule. I want women to be able to answer their babies’ cries of hunger wherever they are without feeling like they need to hide away.

indecent exposure breastfeeding mothers 2

Click titles below.

1. Celebrating Amazing Women + Addressing the Cultural Assault on Breastfeeding Mothers
2.Public Shaming for Breastfeeding Moms. Raising Awareness and Acceptance through Art.
3. ORIGIN Photographer’s Feature: The Bodies of Mothers by Jade Beall

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