Breastfeeding Moms: The Biggest Debate in America?

A recent Time Magazine cover featuring a young mother openly breastfeeding her 3-year-old son sparked heated debates concerning a taboo subject in America.

When the controversial photo, taken originally for an article on attachment parenting, was discovered to have not been staged, furious and confused readers took to the Internet to voice their concerns on the issue of breastfeeding.

Parents argued that the cover was inappropriate and others deemed it just “bad taste” for such a reputable magazine. As a grand social debate launched as a result of the single photo, it unfortunately left many with more questions than answers.

The obvious question remained: Is breastfeeding in public considered socially acceptable?

But just as the dust began to settle and other moms around the country came to terms with the shocking photo, another image capturing two military moms breastfeeding their infants in uniform surfaced as part of an online awareness campaign, and the controversial topic hit the ever-so-bright spotlight yet again.

The photo, depicting two beautiful women feeding their children, was compared by outraged viewers to “urinating and defecating in uniform.” Some have even gone so far as to compare it to the woman who posed in “Playboy” in uniform [in 2007].

This recent uproar caused by a few photos of moms breastfeeding can reveal one sad but honest truth: America is not truly comfortable with seeing women as mothers in public spaces.

So what exactly does that say about our society? Women exposing their breasts can only be seen as something sexual?

Um, are you freakin’ kidding me?

I have so many issues with this it’s unreal.

First off, anyone who attempts to sexualize the act of breastfeeding (one that is so innocent and natural for a mother) has some serious issues. Just because the woman that is doing it is attractive and might have nice breasts, doesn’t mean you get to unleash your sexual fantasies. Seriously, guys. Hold it down.

Then there’s the group of people that insist that breastfeeding is a private act and one that needs to stay hidden. But anyone who has ever been a mother and had to breastfeed will tell you there are unexpected times where you suddenly need to feed your child and there is no private place to do so.

So what does that mean? Moms should be forced to run and hide in seclusion as they feed their hungry children? I’m not advocating for full on public display here, I’m just saying it’s something mothers have to do and sometimes certain situations are not ideal (i.e. a hot day at Disney World). Oh, and suggesting mothers breastfeed in dirty public bathrooms is not a solution… Yuck!

Despite these two major issues, the majority of people are actually enraged because these two women were in uniform. So what’s the big deal? People are making the excuse that it destroys what the uniform represents – but let me tell you this, if it were a man who had to breastfeed instead, you better believe it would be socially acceptable. In fact, it would be glorified in all its greatness.

As one of the mother’s from the photo points out, there are no laws currently against nursing in uniform. So cool your jets people!

Do you honestly think all of the military moms out there who had to feed their children at some point actually changed completely out of their uniform to do so? Yeah, right.

Not only is this picture a true inspiration to many women across the country, it also conveys one powerful message: Not only can women be just as strong (if not stronger) than men and serve in the military, but they can then go home and play the role of a traditional, nurturing mother. If that’s not the definition of a Super Mom, I don’t know what is.

Let’s face it, the 21st century expects women to be both the breadwinners and the traditional stay-at-home mom. Not only is trying to juggle both roles extremely difficult, but with the added pressure of society’s overly harsh criticism, just being a woman can be one tough job.

So while Americans continue to dispute what female behaviors are socially acceptable, the Moms of America will continue to be the super heroes they truly are, while freely choosing to breastfeed their children or not.

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