Can someone please explain to me what is so strange about a mother breastfeeding her baby? And why people often end up feeling so uncomfortable with it that they go to extreme measures to make their discomfort known? When it comes to moms getting shamed for breastfeeding in public, I’ve heard a LOT of stories (in fact, I’ve even been a victim of that sort of harassment myself), but it never ceases to amaze me that this sort of thing is still happening — even in 2017.
The latest story making the rounds takes things to a new low, as far as I’m concerned. As usual, it involves a group of moms doing nothing out of the ordinary. But because breastfeeding was involved, a couple of people lost their damn minds, and had no qualms about ridiculing a group of innocent moms and their babies.
According to Tiara Wilson, who shared her story in a now-viral Facebook post on Breastfeeding Mama Talk, she and six of her friends were enjoying International Pancake Day at an IHOP in Aurora, Colorado on Tuesday. (Which if you ask me, sounds pretty amazing.) As Tiara tells Babble, her group of friends included moms with babies ranging in ages from 2 to 7 months old, and at first, they were having a great time.
After a couple of minutes of eating, laughing, and chatting, a few of the babies got hungry. (You know, as babies tend to do.) And thinking nothing of it, their mamas did what anyone would do who had a hungry baby: they fed them. But apparently, because their method of feeding involved breasts, a few nearby patrons promptly freaked out.
Tiara explains what happened next in her post:
“About 3 of the 7 of us started to feed our babies because we didn’t think much of it. While breastfeeding, that same family of 3 that was sitting next to us, decided to snap a picture of us feeding our babies. He decided to make disgusting faces and snarky little remarks to his family. Then his family decided to take photos and decided that they would sit there the whole time and mean mug and again make nasty faces as everyone FED their babies.”
Um … what? It’s bad enough that the moms were taunted and harassed by a family, but then to have their photos taken too? No. Just no. This is a huge violation of privacy, to say the least.
Tiara tells Babble that the family consisted of two older parents, as well as a teenage boy who she estimates was probably around 14 or 15 years old.
There were a couple of heroes in this story, though. One of Tiara’s friends decided to speak up to the manager at IHOP, and when the manager heard about what was going on, he immediately called the police, saying that what these people were doing to this poor family was illegal. (Colorado does have a law stating that moms are free to breastfeed their babies in public, though it doesn’t have a provision outlining the consequences for someone harassing moms for doing it.)
Shortly after, the police showed up. But unfortunately, Tiara claims their response was far from positive. In fact, she and her friends were shocked by what they say the police did next.
As Tiara alleges in her post, the police did nothing at all to reprimand the taunting onlookers, and instead reinforced what they were doing.
“The Aurora Police Department COPD said: ‘GO TO THE BATHROOM or USE A COVER,” wrote Tiara. “If you don’t want to be bothered or have pictures snapped while feeding.'”
Tiara says that one of her friends even broke down in tears after this, which absolutely doesn’t surprise me one bit.
In a heartfelt ending to her Facebook post, Tiara asked:
“How is this okay? Why is it that we are still shaming mothers for feeding openly? Why do we have to go to the bathroom to feed our littles? Do you eat your food in the bathroom? No. Are you eating under a blanket? No. DO NOT TELL A MOTHER, that she needs to go to the bathroom during an outing with friends to feed her little one. I am just in true disbelief that people still think it’s okay to have a mother feeding in a place where we use the bathroom. How is that even sanitary?”
These are all good and important questions, and are part of the conversation that we all need to be having. People need to start waking up to the fact that all babies are trying to do is eat, just like the rest of us. And asking a mother to vacate the premises to simply feed her baby is simply unfair. Likewise, asking her to cover up only draws attention to what she’s doing and further humiliates her.
And asking a mom to nursing in a bathroom? Ewww. Who would subject anyone to that kind of treatment?
There is one spot of good news that should be noted, though: Since Tiana first shared the story on Breastfeeding Mama Talk, her post has since been updated to say that the Aurora Police Department is actively looking into the matter. While Babble reached out to the department for an official statement, as of now, they had no further comment at this time.