Images of mums breastfeeding on public toilets have attracted outrage in the US – but not for the reasons you may think.
No, detractors aren’t shocked by the thought of breastfeeding in a germ-infested public toilet cubicle. Instead, they have accused the images of promoting “public nudity” and teenage pregnancy.
The images are the centrepiece of a mock pro-breastfeeding ad campaign designed by two US university students. University of North Texas graphic design students Kris Haro and Jonathan Wenske were asked to design a project pretending to work for genuine clients. They chose a campaign supporting proposed Texas bill HB1706, which is designed to protect breastfeeding mums from harassment.
They consulted with experts including La Leche League for their “When Nature Calls” campaign, which features three ads of young women breastfeeding their babies in toilet cubicles. Each image has a title – “Private Dining”, “Table for Two” or “Bon Apetit”.
The text under each image reads: “Would you eat here? By law, breastfeeding mothers are not protected from harassment and refusal of service in public, often forcing them to feed in secluded spaces such as public bathrooms. To help take a stand, visit whennurturecalls.com, because a baby should never be nurtured where nature calls.”
The campaign, which would include a website and app showing women where they could breastfeed, sparked a storm of criticism on blog Mama Bean Parenting’s Facebook page when they were published. One of the mums in the ad is twenty-one-year-old Monika Young, who responded to her critics on the Facebook page.
“I am the one pictured here and I have personally been harassed on numerous levels. I’ve heard more than just “go to the car” and “cover yourself”, I get more sexual comments than anything. So yeah, it’d be pretty great not to have any nasty comments made while I’m feeding my child, with or without a cover,” Ms Young says.
“Whether I was a too young or not, what does it matter what age I am? Teen moms breastfeed, too. I’m 21, so yeah I’m pretty young, and younger mothers are less likely to breastfeed. So hopefully it will encourage younger mothers to breastfeed, breastfeed in public and to not be ashamed to do any of it. (Plus I think my expression and the colours used in the ads depict how I feel about nursing in a bathroom, but that’s just my opinion).”
It’s a shame Texas even needs a law to stop breastfeeding mothers being harassed. Have you been on the receiving end of any nasty comments while breastfeeding? Or felt uncomfortable feeding your child in public? Tell us below.