Photos of Military Moms Breastfeeding in Uniform Causes ControversyMonica Bielanko
I’m not really going to insert the usual commentary about why folks make such a big deal about women breastfeeding in public because that’s been done to death.
Although I personally don’t understand why people care I do acknowledge that everyone has a right to their opinion and can understand if it makes people uncomfortable in certain settings. What I absolutely don’t understand is why photos of two military moms nursing their babies while wearing their uniforms is sparking outrage.
Nonetheless, as Shine from Yahoo reports, the photo in question is “part of a local breastfeeding awareness campaign by Mom2Mom of Fairchild Air Force Base, a support group launched in January by Crystal Scott, a military spouse and mother of three. Among the intimate close-ups of smiling young mothers cuddling their adorable babies, the images of the two airmen stand out.”
“People are comparing breastfeeding in uniform to urinating and defecating in uniform. They’re comparing it to the woman who posed in “Playboy” in uniform [in 2007]” Scott told Yahoo! Shine in an interview. “We never expected it to be like this.”
Here is a larger, different photo:
I view this as the ultimate portrayal of women in the 21st century. This is what it’s all about, people, and anyone who compares this to weakness or thinks that it somehow blights the uniform has got it all wrong.
And yet, so many people are getting it so wrong.
Terran Echegoyen-McCabe, a member of the Air National Guard who was photographed in uniform nursing her 10-month-old twin daughters, tells Yahoo! she’s surprised by the reaction to the photos.
“I have breastfed in our lobby, in my car, in the park … and I pump, usually in the locker room,” she told the “Today” show, adding that she usually nurses her babies while on her lunch break during drill weekends. “I’m proud to be wearing a uniform while breast-feeding. I’m proud of the photo and I hope it encourages other women to know they can breastfeed whether they’re active duty, guard or civilian.”
“The Air Force has never endorsed these photos,” the photographer, Brynja Sigurdardottir points out on her website where you can view several other photos from the Mom2Mom campaign. “These women just happen to be in the Air Force, in their uniform, breastfeeding their babies.”
The fact that the moms are wearing military uniforms makes the whole To Breastfeed in Public or Not To Breastfeed in Public debate more complicated as uniforms come with a set of rules. As Yahoo reports:
According to Military Spouse Central, public displays of affection — even something as innocuous as holding hands — are not allowed while wearing a military uniform. Also forbidden while in uniform: eating, drinking, or talking on a cell phone while walking, carrying an umbrella that’s not black, and (in some cases) smoking or even chewing gum. While there is no policy that addresses breastfeeding in uniform, Air Force spokesperson Captain Rose Richeson told MSNBC: “Airmen should be mindful of their dress and appearance and present a professional image at all times while in uniform.” Military moms who are still breastfeeding are encouraged to pump and bottle-feed their babies while they’re in uniform
What do you think about breastfeeding in uniform? Inappropriate or the ultimate symbol of what motherhood means in this day and age?
Read more from Monica on Strollerderby:
You can also find Monica on her personal blog, The Girl Who.
Photo credit: Brynja Sigurdardottir Photography (Facebook page)
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