When my son turned a year old in February, I started to hear one question quite frequently: "You're STILL nursing him?!"
Why, yes. Yes I am. When will I stop? No idea. I weaned my daughter at 14 months, and I was working full time. Now I am home, so maybe I'll nurse my son a little longer, and maybe I won't.
I have learned to ignore the general discomfort that many people show toward women who breastfeed. I use a Hooter Hider when I'm in public, so as not to offend anyone's delicate sensibilities ("EEK! I caught a glimpse of NIPPLE!").
I get that breastfeeding just weirds some people out. I was one of those people, before I became a mother. That being said, I'd like to offer a big, tall glass of Shut Up Juice to reality star Bethenny Frankel and chef/talk show host Rachael Ray, for their idiotic exchange on an episode of The Rachael Ray Show.
The topic: when is public breastfeeding appropriate?
Shea: “I’m expecting my second child and strongly thinking of breastfeeding. What are your rules for public breastfeeding, like where is it appropriate?”
Bethenny: “I think, unless you are Pamela Anderson, you shouldn’t be showing anyone your breasts besides your husband and your baby.”
Rachael Ray: “Exactly.”
Bethenny: “I really do. I think you should find a corner, or there is always a back room, I just think it makes other people uncomfortable. When you are a mother you think everyone is ‘in on’ what you’re ‘in on’, [. . .] but they’re not. Because I didn’t know anything about [breastfeeding] until I was pregnant and I was sensitive to the fact that it would have flipped me out. So I think, just keep it private. But definitely breastfeed and do things your own way, but in that one way, I would keep it a little bit private. Whipping out your boob at the dinner table is a good diet tip for everyone else.
Bethenny, by the way, is famous for her SkinnyGirl line of products, striking a pose in a bathing suit that shows more boobage than I ever have while nursing my kids. This is the same woman who hawks infant onesies that say-- you guessed it-- "Future SkinnyGirl" on them.
So forgive me, Bethenny, if I think you need to drink some shut up juice.
But Bettina at Best for Babes put it more eloquently:
I get that Bethenny is trying to be a breastfeeding moderate and avoid being branded as a breastfeeding extremist like Gisele. Unfortunately, her advice to the pregnant woman on Rachael Ray goes to the other extreme; it undermines women because it perpetuates several awful stereotypes that are completely false: that breastfeeding is disgusting (when actually it is amazing and beautiful); that breasts should be private unless they are put on display like Pamela Anderson’s (sexual breasts are okay but functional breasts are not); that women “whip their boobs out” (when actually most of the time they show far less skin than Bethenny herself). By nodding her head and chiming in “exactly”, Rachael Ray furthered the damage. Both of these women are powerful and influential and should be using their voices for good: to cheer moms on to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals, whether for 2 days, 2 years, or not at all, and to help break down the cultural barriers that keep breastfeeding from being embraced and celebrated, much like exercising, eating healthy, or any other positive lifestyle decision. Imagine if I said, eat your salad, Bethenny, but do it in a corner?
Big fat WORD.
I will now climb off my soapbox:-)