Please join me in challenging Facebook's policy on breastfeeding photos. Check out my blog on the larger implications of this policy. Please post your breastfeeding photos on this thread and on your page in Facebook. Wouldn't it be fun if we could have the longest thread of breastfeeding photos ever online? I wonder if we could set a world's record. And, let's remind Facebook to step up and be socially responsible. This is a huge cultural issue. We've been aspiring to be a breastfeeding culture in the US for nearly 20 years and we can't do it without seeing breastfeeding in our culture, online, in every day life. Everyone needs to help.
Facebook: Breastfeeding is Normal
I've had two or three photos deleted by Facebook. And what disturbs me the most is that my account is set so that only friends can see my photos, meaning that either a friend or family member reported the photo of me breastfeeding my infant son as being indecent/obscene.
As for the photos in question...
As a four-time victim of Facebook's "policies" (as in, I have had my *entire account* deleted on 4 separate occasions, due to "obscene" breastfeeding photos), I can relate.
I wrote a post on this very subject (complete with beautiful, NORMAL breastfeeding photos ---> http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=436431689914):
I'd just like to talk a bit about the bigger picture here for a moment, in that by Facebook taking this stance against breastfeeding images, and by creating such arbitrary obscenity guidelines as "no exposed areola or nipple may be shown" (I have seen many, many women whose areola covers up to a third or more of their entire breast - a baby's mouth could never come close to "covering" it all!), it is stigmatizing breastfeeding women, and shaming women into thinking that their breasts are much, much less than the amazing life-giving source they are. Nipplephobia has reached epic proportions here in North America, and this is to the supreme detriment of babies everywhere.
Just think for one moment, how many more women would breastfeed, or for how much longer, if only we rid society of the harmful practice of over-sexualizing women's breasts! And how much this, in turn, could benefit BABIES. For whose voice do the most vulnerable members of society have, if not ours? Interestingly, we find cultures around the world where women's breasts are seen *only* in their functioning capacity, i.e., that of nourishing and comforting their young. I believe that we can get there, too (or at least try to find some balance), but we have to start somewhere, and I truly feel that there is never any harm to come from challenging the status quo (you're not surprised, I know ;-) ).
I've said this before, and I'll say it again : as a childbirth professional, but also as a woman, in general, it is absolutely crucial that one support ALL women to breastfeed their young. While you, personally, may have your own code of "decency" for how much skin YOU are comfortable showing while breastfeeding, it is important that you do not impose your own, completely arbitrary line drawn in the sand regarding "modesty" or "discreetness", onto any other breastfeeding mother. Period. Just like a woman who wants to cover up should be supported (and generally IS in our society....), we need to support those women who struggle --or those women who do not want, or care-- to cover their baby and their breast, and make life simpler for these women to, first and foremost, feed and comfort the baby!
Quite simply, this is about normalizing breastfeeding. The more we hide it away, classify it as obscene, shame mothers into covering up while feeding, and encourage women to retire to "private" rooms in order to breastfeed the baby, the less we see of it in public, and the less and less people are comfortable with the very idea of nursing in public. This is the sad reality, in this pathologically hyper-sexualized (yet sexually repressed...) North American culture of ours. The solution, however, seems quite simple to me; breastfeeding (and/or images of breastfeeding) need to be seen every day, and I am convinced that SEEING more breastfeeding, wherever possible, is what will change our breastfeeding culture. Re-normalize it. Everywhere in North America (in all provinces in Canada, and in every state in the USA but two) women have the right to breastfeed in public, wherever they have the legal right to be. So women should do it. And they should feel completely free to do it. Lots of it. As much as possible.
If you want to be a part of the solution, here is one, simple thing you can do, each and every time you see a mother breastfeeding her baby in public : yes, give her a great, big smile, but don't stop there --go right *up* to her, and tell her what a wonderful thing she is doing for her child. I guarantee you, that if we all did even this simple gesture every time we saw a woman nursing in public, the tides would begin to turn.
I would also like to suggest in your daily life (outside the 'net), that you get out there and nurse your children in public. And do so with a huge smile across your face. Pretty hard for onlookers to say, feel, or do something negative in the face of a beaming, breastfeeding mother --n'est-ce pas?
Breastfeeding is normal. Normal. NORMAL. Say it, do it, show it.
Will you start by doing these simple acts right today? Indeed, I challenge you.
(Facebook birth and BF activist & organizer of HM4HB Global Network http://www.hm4hb.net)