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One of my favorite photographers, Jade Beall, posted this self-portrait of herself breast feeding her three-and-a-half-year-old son on her Facebook page last week.
Her caption reads:
Self-portrait taken today with my son. There are many ways breastfeeding begs to be normalized. For me right now, it’s normalizing full-term/child led weaning/extended breastfeeding with my 3.5 year old. I admit that I never breastfeed my son in public anymore. I feel like somehow I would be committing a criminal act when all I am doing is providing comfort and nourishment for my son. I see that with my discomfort in breastfeeding my son in public these days that there is a whole new way for me to promote and support feminism.
I still have milk, he still wants his “nah nahs” as he calls it and nothing, absolutely nothing soothes him better… I have tried to wean him multiple times and I have at last surrendered to the flow of my relationship with my son.
If this offends you, ask me a question rather than call me names. Let’s learn from one another. Let’s be fee from fear of our differences and let’s be filled with curiosity and compassion!
I am not a mother, nor do I have many friends who are mothers yet.
I think many women have let go of the societal shoulds of “pop-a-baby-out-by-twenty-five or-you’re-a-degenerate.”
I have never been a part of this conversation on extended breastfeeding.
I looked at this image when it popped up on my newsfeed and saw a strong woman, standing proudly in her choice—I didn’t question or mock or raise an eyebrow.
I shared it on both my Facebook pages and applauded her for her bravery.
The jackassery that followed on Jade’s initial post and with my readers blew me away.
Here are some of the comments:
“I just gagged in my mouth a little. It’s recommended up to six months to breastfeed. Its not a matter of nutrition either. If a child can feed themselves or a mother spoon feed, they can get the proper nutrition in a regular diet. The “supplement” argument is bs. Don’t forget to milk your child before they walk to get their diploma. God forbid that pass out on the way because they are nutritionally depleted.”
“A child that is 3-and-a-half years old, no longer needs to be breast feed! I am all for breast feeding and in public, but come on…..Who is this mother doing this for, at this point, her or her child?!”
“I have no problem with a mother feeding her infant in public, but this is quite sick. He is no longer a baby. He’s going to have psychological problems later on.”
“After two, there’s no nutritional value in breastfeeding and it most certainly created dependency. I eye roll because moms who do this so badly want acceptance for an emotionally stunting behavior. I’m as liberal as they get but when you are proud about something that negatively can impact a child long-term, you’re out of your mind. I will also freely add that breastfeeding past a medically necessary point is actually more selfish and more about the mother than the child. It means the mother needs psychological help and has problems letting go. Get help and stop collecting other mothers with a similar mental problem to give you support to continue the illness.”
“Except your son no longer needs breastfeeding. He can get his own nutrition by eating. I support a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, but honestly, I think there’s a twisted psychological need being filled here—and it doesn’t belong to your child.”
Other women and mothers weren’t the only ones to get their nipples in a fuss over Jade’s post—Facebook has banned Jade close to a dozen times now for sharing her images of mothers breastfeeding, even though Facebook’s nudity policy gives a thumbs up to images of breastfeeding nipples.
Jade’s main personal account is currently suspended for thirty days because of the above image.
I can’t help but also wonder what the world’s deal is with breasts?
They’re just boobs, people—heaven forbid we use them for what they’re made for.
When my mom raised me as a single parent in Whitehorse, she got a job at a local grocery store. The women who owned the grocery store allowed me to come to work with my mom.
She would sometimes bag groceries while she breastfed me.
She didn’t use a blanket or cover me.
In the time she worked there, all they received was a letter of support from a customer for the owner being progressive enough to hire and support a single mom.
That was 26 years ago.
Are we walking backwards?
We all have our own rights and our own beliefs that are for no one else but us.
None of them are superior or inferior.
We do not create beliefs to please the world; we create beliefs to align with our truths.
I am all for individuals exercising their ability to be free thinkers and stand up to speak their truths.
I am not for individuals standing up and projecting their truths onto others and shaming them for choices that are different than their own.
That’s not applaudable. That’s not admirable.
I asked Jade if Facebook and other people’s trolling would discourage her from sharing her art in the future. Here’s her reply:
“Facebook and our cultures mainstream view of my images featuring breastfeeding will never slow me down. No way. I do get deflated and have a feeling like I have done something wrong every time I am banned, but there is truly nothing more beautiful to me than breastfeeding imagery right now, as a woman who has been breastfeeding over the last 3.5 years.”
Do your dance.
More awesome from Janne:
More images by Jade Beall:
Author: Janne Robinson
Editor: Renée Picard
Images by Jade Beall (used with permission)