“She is a slut”
“She just wants attention”
“That baby is too old to be nursing”
“I wish I was that baby”
The blank white space beneath a candid photo I captured over a year ago – fills with disgust and a shocking level of misinformation and sexualization. My breasts after all, are on display for the world to see. My private moment with my daughter is now on the internet for all of the monsters to fawn over. I am a horrible mother for wanting to remember this short time in my life spent breastfeeding. My smallest babe – watching me do my hair and makeup – thought she’d help herself to a nurse, by any means necessary. Her chubby legs stretched to their limit as she tries to hang on. It reminded me of when my aunt’s dog would try to step away from her puppies – even with them dangling from her nipple. She was latched and there was no getting away.
I laughed and grabbed my phone.
I would have never guessed this image would not only send men to my inbox – requesting photos of my breasts. But I would receive messages with misogynistic undertones – calling for me to make a sandwich or get back in the kitchen. I’ve grown quite a thick skin over the past months and the comments and messages don’t get much further than the surface, but the shock that this very human – very natural act is still so controversial is worrisome and validating all at once.
I am often asked why I have chosen to be so open with my personal life, my thoughts, and my views on topics that seem to go unspoken about.
Because this is how I express myself. This is how I bring attention to issues that mean something to me.
Breastfeeding, birth, sex, body image, suicide, rape, feminism, politics. All of these topics have given me something in my life and others have threatened to take it all away with a single swift and direct punch to the gut.
I remember breastfeeding my daughter in public for the first time. I walked up a flight of stairs, carrying my two week old baby as she screamed and rooted for my breast through a crowded restaurant on a Saturday. The ocean waves crashed at the base of the pier as I fumbled and cried in the women’s bathroom. My swaddle blanket swept the ground as I tried to cover my exposed breast and feed my newborn baby. I didn’t want anyone to see what I was doing, this was private and not something that should be done while everyone around you eats lunch.
My first memory breastfeeding in public was in a bathroom.
Sharing my breastfeeding selfies – gave me a way to tell women who may be struggling in a bathroom at some restaurant on a Saturday – to come out and join us. To not be afraid of what the woman at the table next to you is going to think.
We have to stop living our lives in fear of judgement.
We have to stop comparing ourselves to others.
My feminism and fierce desire to speak up about the things that directly and indirectly impact my life are not going anywhere. I will not apologize for making you uncomfortable.
At some point – we all need a moment of clarity in which we evaluate our views and values and really sit with what they mean. Think about the impact of your words and actions before thrusting them onto someone else’s shoulders.
You don’t know what they could be going through.
I have struggled this past year. My security and foundation of friendship slowly washed away my confidence and even made me question myself and who I am. Whether or not I deserve to have people in my life that care for me and my family.
I’ve arrived at this patch of sunshine and it is beautiful. This sense of balance when the world seems to be melting has given me this new thing called I don’t give a fuck what you think. I will continue to share and write and speak about all of the things that have had some sort of impact on making me the woman I am today.
Why not own it?
I am ok with knowing that not everyone likes me or agrees with me.
I’m ok with it if it helps one woman, just ONE step out of that bathroom stall.