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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
how can you advocate breastfeeding and "not" address the current low rates and/or the reasons women do not breastfeed?

I am well aware there are extremists in every bunch and some may be hurtful towards those who do not breastfeed, but as i have seen it, you can not support women who are making the choice on weather or not they will nurse without debunking some ignorant views on breastfeeding- most being reasons women choose to not breastfeed.

One of the most common attitudes i come up against as a lactivist is ff'ers who feel i am judging them. I know it may be viewed that advocating breastfeeding is shunning or disrespecting formula feeders, but an entire movement can not be defined like this, we still have personal accountability to express our views in a respectful manner, and should be heard in a similar fashion. I do not think ff'ers are bad mothers, I just wish more women could/would breastfeed.

As i see it a HUGE part of helping women to breastfeed is addressing some of the un-educated reasons women do notbreastfeed. How many women do not nurse or stop nursing due to supply issues? Helping to educate women about these issues..meds, supply issues any of the things shared as "excuses" is ment to help spread information. Not judge. If we are un-able to address what we have heard as "reasons" to not breastfeed how are we supposed to support women making the choice who are hearing these "reasons"?

I am not saying it is okay to dis-respect someone and their choices. But there has to be some recognition that discussing how rare biological supply issues are is not the same as saying EVERY woman who claims a supply issue is *bad* or wrong in some way.

If you are a lactivist i would think one of your goals is more breastfeeding women- breastfeeding is hard for many if not most women at some point.. more breastfeeding means shedding light on some reasons women may give up. So we can help with those issues..

It is not always about judging.. sometimes it is about basic regonition of an 'issue' so people may help remedy it.
 

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I think if more women were educated about breastfeeding then the misinformation out there would have less impact. I mean, think about some of the stories we have on here like, "My friend's pedatrician told her that the baby doesn't need breastmilk after 3 months so she weaned." If the pediatrician in that story had tried pulling that BS with someone who was educated about breastmilk he would have been lectured for 40 minutes and then told to shape up or lose her business, oh, and she'll tell all her friends to watch out for him and if she gets a report of him lying like that again she'll be back for another round and telling everyone she knows not to use his office.

Knowledge is power. Yes, there are situations where it doesn't matter how much you know, you're still going to have trouble fighting society so you can breastfeed, but there are also tons of situations where if the *women* had known enough *they* could have made a difference.

Rather than just sympathizing with women who were young and didn't know better about breastfeeding and got bullied into not breastfeeding, rather than just working on getting medical people to stop lying, we need to help women get the knowledge they need to tell the medical people that they know the misinformation is a lie and that it won't be tolerated.
 

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In my mind, lactivism includes the following:

* being well educated about breastfeeding and sharing that information with others

* be supportive of the family as a whole and be responsive when asked for advice, guidance or even just moral support.

* questioning myths, biases, and misconceptions when encountered in positive and friendly ways.

* fighting for women's rights to nurse on demand and to nurse for as long as they want. This includes NIP and combining nursing and working.

* challenge those who should be supportive of breastfeeding when they are not doing their jobs or are undermining bfing. Often pointing out what they are doing can be enough to make them think about their behavior.

* Being respectful of other's decisions, contexts, and circumstances, even if I don't agree with the outcome.

However, I think lactivism stops at shaming, attacking, and judging other people's decisions (at the very least out loud!). My husband has a basic rule of thumb - "does this decision affect me? NO? then it is NONE OF MY BUSINESS".

Siobhan
 

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I think politely asking a woman her reason for FF and then stating, kindly, that there are alternatives to FF for said reason is fine. Judging someone, telling them off, being rude to them, calling them selfish or lazy or stupid, all of that is mean. However, asking a woman "May I ask why you chose formula?" and then responding to her answer with "Well, did you know that you could have...?" is not. We have got to address the problems and educate the public. How will we change anything if we cannot address the reasons for which decisions are being made?
 

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I think whether or not women chose to formula feed does affect me. In a world where most women chose formula, every woman who choses to place herself in that statistic affects me. Formula is seen as standard, breastmilk as 'extra credit' as someone else on these boards pointed out recently, when formula should be substandard and breastmilk standard. Moreover, the number of women who formula feed is one of the many reasons why breastmilk is not seen as normal, why NIP is such a challenge, and why there is such a lack of support and information readily available. This affects everyone, just as racism does.
 

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hawkfeather and everyone else who replied to this thread so far,

, with all of you guys on these issues in this thread, even though I haven't though this before. Still, I'm aware of these issues because of the stuff in the media, what I see every other week day while I volunteer in the Maternity Department at the local hospital by me, etc. I highly doubted that judging will change this issue will work now, but yeah, we can try still.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by siobhang
However, I think lactivism stops at shaming, attacking, and judging other people's decisions (at the very least out loud!). My husband has a basic rule of thumb - "does this decision affect me? NO? then it is NONE OF MY BUSINESS".
Siobhan
I guess I wonder how we determine what affects us? I posted this after reading the thread about *worst excuses* A fair few mommas posted saying it was a negative thread, and while I did not really feel comfortable posting there.. I have to wonder where is the line? what is attacking and what is advocating?

How another woman feeds her child might not affect us at all.. so is even encouraging breastfeeding dis-respectful? I know there are no clear *rules* on what is okay to express and what is not. I have to admit from my point of view.. shaming a woman can't really be done by discussing some extreme or obscure reasons given for not breastfeeding. I think most the examples in that paricular thread just showed a lack of education on the poor momma's side.. and unless people are aware that these 'choices' are being made .. than how do we combat them?

or do we comabt them at all.. maybe it is none of our buisness, in which case i wonder why we are here as well.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by hawkfeather
I guess I wonder how we determine what affects us? I posted this after reading the thread about *worst excuses* A fair few mommas posted saying it was a negative thread, and while I did not really feel comfortable posting there.. I have to wonder where is the line? what is attacking and what is advocating?
To me, this is the line:

Are we working to create a world where breastfeeding is the accepted norm? Good.

Are we making judgements about an individual woman's individual choice? Bad.

And not just bad because it's mean (which it is), or because you never know the details of an individuals situation (which you don't). Bad because it's ineffective. Giving a woman crap about her feeding choices is going to do #@$ all to convince her to breastfeed. Gently and respectfully offering her information? Fine. Expressing negativity about her choices? Not fine.

In my opinion, women should always have to choice not to breastfeed, for any reason they deem appropriate. No one should ever be in the business of making a woman do something so intimate with her body against her will. Our job as lactivists is to make our culture such a place that most women will have access to decent information and decent support as they make their decision about feeding their child. In short, all the stuff that Siobhan laid out so clearly in her post.

Julia
 

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it is important to point out that people "feel judged" when they are 'judging themselves.' When a person is not happy or content with the decision that they made, they take even the smallest and most innocent statement (eg, I love to breast feed!) as a personal judgement against them.

this is not because we are judging them, but because they are judging themselves and placing the origin of that 'on us' rather than looking to themselves.

it is important to recognize that for many women, they don't learn anything about child rearing until they're already pregnant. pregnancy is spent focusing on birthing and immediately after. there is so much going on that there is often very little time to exhaustively research and understand the complexity of pregnancy, birth, lactation and BF vs formula feeding, early childhood nutrition, and the basics of child rearing--as well as discovering the various financial needs involved--in 9 months. Often, wmen learn about BF after their baby is born and after those critical first few weeks when establishing the BF relationship is crucial. And when they do get that information, they 'feel judged' because they didn't know better and they feel that they should have.

so, i think that another way in which our culture needs to change is in teaching people to prepare for things that they are undertaking. Before getting pregnant, people should be encouraged to learn about fertility, pregnancy, birth, lactation and breastfeeding, and life with a new baby. They should be encouraged to set up support networks for all of these things.

And honestly, the internet is a big help.

but, i'll be completely honest here. I have been 'preparing' for having a baby for 3 years. we will not TTC until 2008--another 1.5 years from now. I research and have become involved with a number of different mother/child related issues in this time and i have learned a lot about all kinds of birth processes, parenting styles, and mother-child nutrition. whenever i mention this, people say "you're crazy" and "you're never truly prepared for a baby!" In the first part, i can't agree. Knowledge is better than ignorance. In the second, i can agree in part--there is no way to fully prepare--but, it is helpful to know what resources are available to you such that, for example, should i have a trouble latching (which, btw, most pregnant women don't even know could be a problem that they might have to face), that i could go to LLL or get a lactation consultant (which many women don't even know about because often they're so focused on birth during pregnancy that they forget to research anything after birth--and they don't necessarily know about these organizations and resources!).

So, i strive to encourage women to consider these sorts of ideas before they are even pregnant so that they can begin to decide how they think they want to parent in the future. They'll do most of the research themselves, they'll make an empowered choice from a point of knowledge, and they won't "feel judged" by someone who is doing something from a point of empowerment and knowledge.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by zoebird
it is important to point out that people "feel judged" when they are 'judging themselves.' When a person is not happy or content with the decision that they made, they take even the smallest and most innocent statement (eg, I love to breast feed!) as a personal judgement against them.

this is not because we are judging them, but because they are judging themselves and placing the origin of that 'on us' rather than looking to themselves.

it is important to recognize that for many women, they don't learn anything about child rearing until they're already pregnant. pregnancy is spent focusing on birthing and immediately after. there is so much going on that there is often very little time to exhaustively research and understand the complexity of pregnancy, birth, lactation and BF vs formula feeding, early childhood nutrition, and the basics of child rearing--as well as discovering the various financial needs involved--in 9 months. Often, wmen learn about BF after their baby is born and after those critical first few weeks when establishing the BF relationship is crucial. And when they do get that information, they 'feel judged' because they didn't know better and they feel that they should have.

so, i think that another way in which our culture needs to change is in teaching people to prepare for things that they are undertaking. Before getting pregnant, people should be encouraged to learn about fertility, pregnancy, birth, lactation and breastfeeding, and life with a new baby. They should be encouraged to set up support networks for all of these things.

And honestly, the internet is a big help.

but, i'll be completely honest here. I have been 'preparing' for having a baby for 3 years. we will not TTC until 2008--another 1.5 years from now. I research and have become involved with a number of different mother/child related issues in this time and i have learned a lot about all kinds of birth processes, parenting styles, and mother-child nutrition. whenever i mention this, people say "you're crazy" and "you're never truly prepared for a baby!" In the first part, i can't agree. Knowledge is better than ignorance. In the second, i can agree in part--there is no way to fully prepare--but, it is helpful to know what resources are available to you such that, for example, should i have a trouble latching (which, btw, most pregnant women don't even know could be a problem that they might have to face), that i could go to LLL or get a lactation consultant (which many women don't even know about because often they're so focused on birth during pregnancy that they forget to research anything after birth--and they don't necessarily know about these organizations and resources!).

So, i strive to encourage women to consider these sorts of ideas before they are even pregnant so that they can begin to decide how they think they want to parent in the future. They'll do most of the research themselves, they'll make an empowered choice from a point of knowledge, and they won't "feel judged" by someone who is doing something from a point of empowerment and knowledge.
Hi I absolutely agree.i've always felt that that no one can make you feel quilty unless you already feel some quilt.
 

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hawkfeather - thank you for posting this, I was just about to post a spinoff from my "who are the 29% who don't try" thread, becuase I started seeing more "we shouldn't judge, we shouldn't criticize" posts than I am comfortable with on a forum that promotes breastfeeding.

What is judging? (I'm truely asking that in a non-snarky way
)

Is there good judging and bad judging?

I truely think there is a world of difference between saying to an individual, 'you know I'm really surprised you made that choice, I really can't understand it' and saying to a breastfeeding activism forum, 'you know, I'm really surprised so many people make that choice, I really don't understand it". Is that just me?

Is wondering what motivates someone to do something differently from you judgemental? If yes, then I'm judgemental - I wonder a lot about how it is that I came to be an ebf'er and other people never try; and how I came to make choices that are different from other people's choices. I just like thinking about all the factors that influence these decisions, and what tips the scale. But honestly, the thought process is more "I wonder what factors influenced that decision" and NOT "I'm so wonderful, why isn't everyone like me?" Really. I promise.

I also think about the very un-AP/NFL things I have done and do, and I know people judge me, and that's ok. I still wonder why I make those decisions the way I did, and how other people come to other decisions.

Re: my 29% post, I really was just surprised, shocked that my cousin didn't even try bf, and then to learn that 29% don't even try once - wow -that number just seems so much larger than I would have guessed, and I just asked WHY, in place that I thought was safe to do that. I would never ask an individual why, and you know, if I ever see my cousin (or anyone else in the world who does things differently from me) I will smile, be friendly and tell her how cute her baby is; and when I go home, I'll still wonder what drives our decisions.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by moonfirefaery
I think whether or not women chose to formula feed does affect me. In a world where most women chose formula, every woman who choses to place herself in that statistic affects me. Formula is seen as standard, breastmilk as 'extra credit' as someone else on these boards pointed out recently, when formula should be substandard and breastmilk standard. Moreover, the number of women who formula feed is one of the many reasons why breastmilk is not seen as normal, why NIP is such a challenge, and why there is such a lack of support and information readily available. This affects everyone, just as racism does.
:

I NIP with my one baby who nurses...BUT I actually try to find an out of the way place if I can to bottle feed my non-nurser. Not because I am particularly ashamed of myself(I know how hard I am trying and that's what counts to me) -- but because I don't want to be a bottle influence! I don't want people to see me with a bottle and smile...I don't want people to tell me the bottle is ok because I have twins....I hate hate hate that the bottle is seen as the norm...I long for the day that people look twice when they see a bottle and feel sorry for us because obviously the baby or I have an issue which has prevented proper normal feeding...*sigh*
 

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Quote:
I truely think there is a world of difference between saying to an individual, 'you know I'm really surprised you made that choice, I really can't understand it' and saying to a breastfeeding activism forum, 'you know, I'm really surprised so many people make that choice, I really don't understand it". Is that just me?
I agree. And I also agree with the pp's who've mentioned that no one can "make" someone feel guilty about a decision that they don't already harbor some guilt over.

Maybe the judging issue can sometimes be confused with "blame." I think we can (and do) judge decisions about this and other issues, without necessarily "blaming" the people who've made those decisions - it's a slight difference but it's there. So a mom who was given abysmal information about bf (say, told she had to quit because the only drug to treat her mastitis would hurt her baby) -- and is heartbroken about it - doesn't need blaming. But -- she does need educating (and empowering) so that she will know that she was given bad information, and poor support, and to know that there were other treatment options out there for her (including bfing through the mastitis of course). I can still feel a bit judgmental on some levels, about how she could have researched bf so little that she could be misled by such an HCP, without entirely blaming her for a societal issue that is not of her creation.

I don't know if that's clear.

Honestly, I do feel judgemental about many of the reasons women give for not bf - they demonstrate a lack of research about it, a lack of willingness to find solutions when they run into obstacles (and therefore often a "ff is just as good" mentality) .... I had to work really, really hard to maintain bf with Ina and we made some huge sacrifices dietarily as a family (among other things). It was worth it to me, and it makes me feel angry to see mothers who could have bf'd with a lot less sacrifice potentially, blissfully ffing and disregarding or discounting all the information out there about bf/ff.

So I do think there's a place for that on this forum, honestly. We need a place where we can share our frustrations about the issues involved, and the decisions people make and how they make them ....

I at the same time think that IRL we have to be very, very sensitive about our approaches -- as a pp noted, judging isn't a very effective way of educating a mom so that she feels brave enough to bf again, and is educated and supported enough to do so successfully without being sabotaged again. Now, how to do that without getting a mother's back up (since she may be already feeling guilty and reading a subtext into our words which is not intended) -- I think is a complex issue and must be negotiated through on an individual situation-basis.

I do think that there are a lot of women out there whose bf relationships were sabotaged by Babywise, or a Ped who didn't have a clue about bf, or right at the hospital with nipple confusion, or "just one bottle" etc. etc. etc. -- and I think it's our responsibility as lactivists, when we encounter women who've been sabotaged like this, to gently let them know about other information, other resources, and so on so that they will hopefully
A. BF again (successfully)
B. Have a different version of their story to share - not "Oh, yes, most women have low supply, I sure did," (for instance) but instead, "Well, my Ped gave me awful advice, he told me to only bf every 4 hours and that's not frequently enough in the beginning. I wish I'd done X or Y instead of listening to the Ped."

And when we encounter sheer stupidity (women shouldn't bf in public or etc.) then I think the gloves can be completely off, online and IRL. Or, blanket statements from someone who's not mentioned his/her experiences with bf per se, but has something ignorant to say about it (i.e., "Formula has the same stuff in it but is waaay more convenient.")
:

I think we're all aware of the myriad issues with derail bf for moms, some more difficult to overcome than others .... But it's definitely OK to be frustrated and yes, even judge a bit when we hear a mother say, "Well, I don't want my boobs to sag."

(Personally one of the things that really frustrates me is the "I need to be able to be away from my baby so I can go out" argument - I just don't get that one, babies should be with their mothers (or parents) IMO and it boggles my mind to think that somehow it's better for moms to be able to leave baby with someone else for a day so she can have "mom time." Hellooooo! Baby needs mom time even more, and you can get mom time while bfing too, believe it or not (if you need it - I never felt like I did)).
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I guess to me- a lot of these points remind me a bit too much of the many conversations I have had with FF'ers who are upset because i am saying they are "bad mothers" or that thier children will be obese or get diabetes.. when 'I' and no other lactivist i know has ever said that. Or anything even close.

I would never critisize a woman for the choices she makes over her own body, But I will discuss my opinion on why so few women breastfeed.
 

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i think that people do confuse 'judgement' or 'discernment' and 'being judgemental' as well.

expressing an opinion is using judgement or discernment on a range of information about a topic to come to a conclusion on which one can base their actions.

the problem is, we tend to 'assume' the judgement ourselves. i learned this from my husband about women and their response to language about their bodies.

my husband once said (in a cheery tone): You've gained weight!

and i took that to mean (because of my own body isses): YOu're fat and unattractive! you need to loose weight!

whereas he meant: I like the way you look now that you've gained weight. it's soft and feminine!

And so now he says: I love your curvy, feminine body! it's wonderful!

what happens is, our self criticism comes in.

I might say to a mother who is bottle feeding: There's nothing i love more than feeding my baby! Nursing is so wonderful!

and she hears: I'm better than you because i nurse!

And this could be because she thinks that nursing is 'better' but didn't have the support to do it, and now she's sad because she can't do what she wants, but for whatever reason you can.

my sister gets mad at me all the time because she thinks "you get to do whatever you want!" whereas she has to "work hard for everything all the time!"

so if i were to say "i really love eating salads" she takes that as "you should eat salads like me!" and shell say back to me "you're so harsh about food; i have IBS and can't eat that much salad."

well, i never said she should be eating salad or it was wrong for her to eat salad--instead, i was simply saying *i* like salad.

so, a lot of times--and in a lot of different aspects of our lives--our inner critic clouds our hearing.
 

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That is so right! You can't say anything to someone these days without them crying judgement. If I'm nursing or just finished nursing Corbin and am just in such a good mood about loving it (which I do), and I say "GOSH, I just love nursing. It is so convenient, so calming, and just...just beautiful!" Of course she's going to think I'm gloating trying to make myself seem superior because I nurse...when really I'm just feeling excited about something that's a big part of my life. There are times when I nurse when it's just no big deal, and then there are times when I'm nursing that I'm just overwhelmed with the wonder of the female body.

It's also true that you cannot make someone feel guilty unless they already have a tiny bit of guilt. I think one of the reasons formula feeding mothers are defensive is because they KNOW there was a better choice and that for whatever reason they didn't make it. Some of course are defensive because they wanted to breastfeed and couldn't. Some are just so tired of being judged. There are a lot of reasons people will act defensive or feel guilty. I think it's terrible to judge someone for not being able to do something, but if a mother makes a decisions for reasons that are mostly centered around herself and almost irrelevent or just even ignorant (like that it will mess up her boobs, PLEASE, no, it doesn't!) I don't see what's wrong in educating someone, or even pointing out that their reasons seem to have more to do with them than their children.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kalirush
To me, this is the line:

Are we working to create a world where breastfeeding is the accepted norm? Good.

Are we making judgements about an individual woman's individual choice? Bad.

And not just bad because it's mean (which it is), or because you never know the details of an individuals situation (which you don't). Bad because it's ineffective. Giving a woman crap about her feeding choices is going to do #@$ all to convince her to breastfeed. Gently and respectfully offering her information? Fine. Expressing negativity about her choices? Not fine.

In my opinion, women should always have to choice not to breastfeed, for any reason they deem appropriate. No one should ever be in the business of making a woman do something so intimate with her body against her will. Our job as lactivists is to make our culture such a place that most women will have access to decent information and decent support as they make their decision about feeding their child. In short, all the stuff that Siobhan laid out so clearly in her post.

Julia
I'm with Julia all the way on this one.

For me the line in judgement if very clear.

I think the line is drawn when a person starts deciding for someone else what's an acceptable reason to FF and what's not. "You there - you who adopted, well it's OK with me that you FF 'cause I can see that your choices were pretty limited. You over there - who say you didn't BF because you wanted your body back - why you selfish, lazy, uneducated, beatch - why even make the choice to have children if aren't willing to give them the best."

This is reducing women and motherhood to single issues and looking at them in a vaccuum. The woman who "wants her body back" has grown up in a culture that values her for the perkiness of her breasts and the smoothness of her armpits and bikini line. Her very definition of womanhood, wifeliness and worthiness is resting on her body. And given what we all grow up with it, hhow could it be anything else. Since the time she was a tiny baby she was complimented on what she looked like while her brothers were praised for what she did. Go watch mothers and babies sometime and look for this. Little girls are praised for their cute dresses, lovely hair, big eyes and nice smile. Little boys are praised for walking up the stairs like a big boy, for helping mother with the new baby, for jumping SO high! It's astounding to me that 70% of women DO choose to BF!
 

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Quote:
You over there - who say you didn't BF because you wanted your body back - why you selfish, lazy, uneducated, beatch - why even make the choice to have children if aren't willing to give them the best."
My response to this sort of comment is usually to do
: And then say, "Oh, wow, you know, you should give breastfeeding a try next time - I lost 15 pounds beyond my prepregnancy weight, I got my *college* body back, not the 30 year old woman's body back! And I got to eat like a horse!"
One of my friends is having trouble conceiving and I have told her (she struggles with her weight) that I hope she is able to go on the "Breastfeeding Diet" someday too.

I think that there can be nonjudgmental comebacks to even some of the really asinine statements people make (uninformed and ignorant ones). And if they are stuck in a cultural trap wherein they are valued only for their bodies' appearance, well, then, you respond (in a bf-positive way) on that level, too.

I can still think it's sad that the woman has been so deeply invested in such a superficial mode, and values herself so little, and is so easily led by public pressure, etc. etc. And I suppose that's judgment.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Ellien C
I think the line is drawn when a person starts deciding for someone else what's an acceptable reason to FF and what's not.
I'm having a hard time with this idea...I still think the difference is how we think and act toward individuals - judging and blaming are not the same in my book.

One can recognize that there is a whole intertwined mess of cultural factors influenceing women's choices, and not blame women for their choices, BUT, at the same time think it's pretty sad for women and babies to miss out on the potential of breastfeeding because of body image... again, not blaming the woman for wanting her body back (because it's so ingrained by family and culture) but nevertheless, thinking that's not how things *should* be. Or, are we really to think that a culture that supresses women into being a slave to body image ideals is just as ok as a culture that completely supports bf? Again, not saying one individual is better than another, but that there is an ideal (everyone bf'ing) and it's worth exploring reasons people have that keep us from that ideal.

Now, I wouldn't never chastise a woman for her reasons, but I will wonder and discuss in an appropriate forum (like this one?) or among friends, how is it that some women have the - whatever - stregnth, resrouces, attitude to blow off cultural expectation of body image, and other's don't? How as a society can we change so that body image is less important than all the good things about bf?
 
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