Dear Janie Porter, Is It Really That Hard to Look Away?

In response to “Dear Breastfeeding Moms, Is It Really That Hard to Cover Up?

Dear Janie Porter & Offended Public,

As a fellow breastfeeding mother, let me clear up a little confusion for you. I mean you said it yourself, “What’s with all the controversy about nursing in public?” It’s the same question I ask. So let me help break it down for you.

“Is it really that hard to cover up?”

No, it’s not. But it’s easier not to cover up. Is it really that hard to look away? I could easily buy one of those nursing aprons but I won’t. The one and only time I tried nursing in public with a cover was a complete disaster. I was hot, my son was hot, I couldn’t see him, I felt uncomfortable for both me and him. I don’t eat with a blanket over my head and neither should my son.

“Here’s the deal: Strangers don’t want to see your areola. (Yeah, that’s it.)”

Unless what? They’re floating on the big screen? Hanging out in ads and magazines? In porn? In movies? Doing everything sexual except not what their intended purpose is? Which is to feed and nourish a child? Ah, makes absolute sense.

“I’ve nursed my kids in the middle of the fanciest restaurants, at the beach, at the doctor’s office, in the library, the airport, the grocery store, in millions (okay, dozens) of parking lots. One time, I even sat down on a tiny patch of grass to feed my baby on the side of the road.”

I have nursed my son at a Renaissance Faire, multiple restaurants (including a fancy one), at a dentist office, at a doctor’s office, outdoors, etc. Without a cover. Everyone survived, I promise.

“But, I still managed to get a blanket, or at least part of my shirt, to cover my naked nipple while my kids ate. Really, is it that big of a deal?”

Is it that big of a deal if there isn’t a blanket over a women and her child? Truly? Should we start requesting formula feeding moms to put blankets over their head and their child’s because the nipple of a bottle resembles a woman’s nipple? Perhaps we should request a blanket over a child’s head when they suck on a pacifier because that, too, resembles a woman’s nipple?

“The truth is, I don’t want to see your naked boobs. I don’t want my husband to, and come to think of it, my preschool son either.”

What are you going to do about the media? Going to the mall and seeing posters of women in bras? Does your husband not watch porn? And if he doesn’t, has he ever seen a movie with a naked lady in it? Is that okay with you? As long as boobs are not used for their natural function, is it okay? I come across more naked women in a sexualized fashion than I ever have a breastfeeding one.

“That doesn’t mean I’m sexualizing breastfeeding. It means that a naked boob, to most people in our culture, is a sexual thing.

You did sexualize breastfeeding. That statement sexualizes breastfeeding. I’ll leave it at that.

“Your vagina helped make the kid, and I don’t see you flashin’ that around.”

I don’t flash it around because it no longer serves a purpose. My breasts serve a purpose. If my son was about to be birthed in the grocery store, I sure as hell will take my pants off and deliver if I had to. I’m not going to politely ask him to wait until I get to the hospital because it doesn’t work like that.

“Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m ignorant. Maybe you’re just trying to prove a point, and I just don’t get it. We all do motherhood our own way, and I love that. I really do think it’s a beautiful thing that all moms are different.”

This is the truest, most knowledgeable statement you have made thus far.

See, my 7 year old niece has seen both me and my older sister breastfeeding. She doesn’t bat an eye when we do it. If I’m breastfeeding around her, she goes about her own business. She runs around and plays. She says “Hi Auntie Shayna, Bye Auntie Shayna” hurriedly. We’ve taught her not to be rude and stare. We’ve taught her that this is normal and natural. She cares just as much as she cares about bottle feeding a baby or watching me eat which is zero.

I don’t plan on covering myself up because I don’t need to. I’m not flaunting my “tits”, I’m feeding my child. If that offends you, you should not only look away but you should look within. I nurse without a cover for myself, for my child, for society, and for the women that want to but can’t. I hold my head high and I stand with all breastfeeding moms. I stand with them however they choose to: with a cover, without a cover, in a bottle, by breast, with formula, donated, etc. We should be empowering women and educating them, not bringing them down.

I know that I’ll be teaching my son not to objectify women and see them as only sexual beings. I’m sorry your son won’t be learning the same lesson.

Sincerely,

A Fellow Breastfeeding Mother That Really Doesn’t Have Anything to Get

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Shayna Shattelroe

25 years old. Mama to Maddox. Word weaver. Lover of love. Coffee addict. Psychological science student. 

A woman of curious nature, my name is Shayna. I am wild & reserved. Humbled & proud. Quiet & clamorous. Strange & familiar. I live in the trees of New England typing away as lifestyle blogger. You can always find me with a coffee cup in one hand and a book in the other.

Blogging since 2005, I’ve had an innumerable amount of blogs on a vast number of platforms. Finally, I’ve found one to call home: The Lovely Cicada. This blog is a piece of myself I extend to you.