Apparently, there is a new challenge going around, where women are encouraged to take a picture of themselves holding a can or bottle of Coke between their breasts. This is supposed to raise awareness about breast cancer. However from my understanding, it's not doing anything to raise money for the cause, and in my humble opinion, it's not doing anything to support the women with this terrible disease.
Ironically, my great-grandmother worked for Coca-cola for many many years. She also survived breast cancer. My intuition tells me that she would have been appalled by this. Not because she was from a different time, and a respectable woman, which she was, but because this is plain pointless. It further sexualizes breasts, and demeans the importance of raising awareness about breast cancer. Although, I think by know pretty much everyone understands that breast cancer is serious. It is a shame that we have to further sexualize our bodies in the name of "awareness". I don't think we need to be more aware than we already are, we need people to start taking action instead. Going topless and bouncing around isn't the way to do it. I'm not even sure flaunting something that so many women are grieving the loss of, is a very sensitive thing to do. I don't want to bash or shame anyone here, I believe in a woman's right to her body. I'm sure most of these women are doing it with the right intentions, but it's not something that I would deem appropriate for the situation.
I was informed today while at my second NIP [nursing in public] photoshoot, that there was an incredibly ignorant statement made about breastfeeding. A local radio station decided that they'd like to promote this challenge, and make a statement about it. However, they also wanted to be clear of what they were NOT looking for. NO BREASTFEEDING PHOTOS. Fair enough, but why? Well in their words, it is basically "pornography", and borderline "incest". My jaw was on the floor when I heard this. In fact, many other women in the community are pretty furious about the statement made, and have planned a "nurse-in" at the station for this Friday morning. Where a large gathering of women [over 100 and growing], are going to the station to exercise their right to their own bodies, as protected by law. I for one, am extremely excited that something like this is being planning and organized! I cannot wait to support, and document this. It is making a very bold statement about how breastfeeding mothers feel about being able to shamelessly feed their children. I expect that this event will remain peaceful, because it's not meant to be hurtful towards the person(s) involved in the original statement made. I believe most of the women's intentions are to simply normalize breastfeeding. To make nursing just as normal as breasts are sexualized.
My first thought though, was to be mad at whoever made that declaration. However, is that really going to change the way they think? Is it even their fault? Think about how sexualized breasts are in the first place. It's no wonder why so many men are uncomfortable with breastfeeding, and how many women are ashamed of doing it in public. There is really only one thing we can do to change this, and that is to just DO IT. Do it in public while people are around, covered or not, make it YOUR normal. Show people just how beautiful and natural it really is. More and more women are waking up to not only the fact that breast milk is one of the most nutrient dense foods there is on the planet, but that it's NORMAL to feed your child this way. That you don't have to cover yourself up, or hide in a bathroom, or let strangers bully you because you are protected by law. Many women have no idea that their right to breastfeed in public uncovered is protected by law, at least it is in Colorado. You can view the breastfeeding laws HERE and see the ones specific for your state. Although, the laws are still fuzzy, and because of that we need to work even harder to challenge it.
We really must #normalizebreastfeeding and spread the message. I am collaborating with a woman on this very subject, and have just finished with my second shoot. We have NIP in a Safeway, Starbucks, and a Kohl's. We have many more places on the list, and we hope that this will empower others to nurse in public without shame. As for the NIP'ers, I support you mama! I WAS you, and I did everything I could to continue to nurse my daughters, but I couldn't unfortunately. If you have not yet read my breastfeeding story, you can HERE.
As for the women wanting to raise awareness about breast cancer, I ask you to do this instead: Donate some money to the cause, join a walk, or a marathon, or drive of some sort that supports women and men alike suffering right now with this illness. Or donate to the families that are grieving the loss that it causes. Some are even studying the correlation between breastfeeding and it having an effect to actually lower the risk of getting breast cancer. So in the end, maybe we can all be on the same page here! Breasts are awesome! Let's show all that have them love, kindness and compassion! On the contrary, those that are offended or have been discriminated against for nursing in public; I implore YOU to show THEM love, and kindness, and compassion. Thank the Lord for your health, your babies, and your abilities to feed them. I will leave you with this....
Love Your Enemies
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."