I don’t care how you breastfeed your baby or don’t breastfeed your baby, yet our whole country has been engaged in a dialog about if it’s OK to see photographs of women fulfilling biology’s mission. This is as mundane and obvious to me as people breathing; perhaps we should start showing pictures of humans inhaling and exhaling. In other countries around the world, how we feed our young is a non-issue because there isn’t an abundance of choices; just as a woman is the one biologically responsible for gestating a human (sorry males, not our faults), our bodies are magically designed to continue this rearing process by feeding our offspring via breast.
The fact that we entertain a choice as to how we feed our babies is by the grace of modern science and it’s not natural – but it is sufficient and it keeps children alive, just like dialysis is not natural but keeps people with kidney failure alive.
The abundance of people expressing unwarranted opinions about how others feed their babies – especially in an effort to shame them either for not breastfeeding (clearly you don’t love your baby enough) or for breastfeeding in public or too much (clearly you don’t love strangers enough to shield them from milk coming out of your breast).
How a mother chooses to feed her baby is as personal as how she chooses to conceive her.
What I find most absurd is the dichotomy of how people have an uproar of judgments about how parents feed babies, yet by the time the children have reached three and the mothers are feeding their children processed chicken fingers at McDonald’s, no one is pointing fingers or sharing Instagram posts. What happened to the concern for the babies’ nutrition now?
Lindy West, in her book, Shrill, taught me a very important lesson: it’s not my business. It doesn’t concern me if people are fat according to my benchmarks. I don’t know anyone else’s situations or the roads they traveled to get to where they are. Mostly, no one asks people’s opinions but because we’ve become so conditioned to raise our hands or click “comment,” to vocalize our perspectives, we’ve forgotten that just because we have a voice doesn’t mean we’re entitled to use it to judge others – especially when 99% of the time, these outsiders we feel comfortable dissecting, have little impact or connection to our lives.
The oversharing culture has armed us all with virtual megaphones and soapboxes and just because a person chooses to share, doesn’t mean they’re asking for criticism. It’s a psychologically established fact that our criticism of others comes from our insecurities. We project on others to make ourselves feel better and it’s counterproductive because we still have to confront our innermost truths and anxieties at night when no one is in our heads with us.
For the last 14 years, I have been in the “Motherhood Club,” I’ve been amazed at how fellow moms have not been more inclusive or sympathetic. Raising children is one of nature’s most honorable responsibilities and one of its most difficult and instead of feeling supported, we’re often left feeling judged, reprimanded, and in constant competition with one another.
I’m not saying we all shut up and nod along; I suggest asking two extra questions before you attack, “How does it really affect you?” and “Is it really your business?”