So, last month, a cool mama, Naomi Yap, of Coppell (an equally cool suburb of Dallas, I lived there for a few years!) was kicked out of the Vista Ridge Mall Hollister for nursing her baby in the dressing room.
Details and video, as well as a bunch of really ridiculous comments, can be found on NBC5’s page.
I’ll not even address the fact that it was inappropriate for the person in charge to go swinging curtains back without asking if anyone is in there first and waiting a moment for a reply. That is heinous regardless of what she was doing in there. If she was trying on clothing and was topless, he would have already been strung up as a perv. But, we’ll not worry about that detail for now. I’m more interested in the fact that he told her it was against company policy to breastfeed there, like companies publish policies like that in the first place, or employees would know that policy. In retail, most days you are lucky if they know the return policy.
Interestingly enough, several of my non-nursing friends asked why she had stopped to breastfeed in the store rather than go to the *nursing stations* in the mall. I don’t know what specifically her reasons were, but I will happily give you a few of my thoughts on that situation.
1) It doesn’t take that long to nurse my kid (like 5-10 minutes) which is typically longer than it would take to slink off to the nursing station. I usually won’t be polite enough to go to a dressing room, unless there is nowhere to sit in the store, then I will if they aren’t busy. I have nursed in a Macy’s dressing room and a Steinmart dressing room. At the Macy’s they absolutely knew what I was doing, and they were thrilled that I was keeping my baby from screaming at the top of her lungs. At the Steinmart, I was having a conversation about it the whole time with my mom, so I wasn’t particularly discreet there either. I suppose if someone had said something to me, I would have gotten out of the dressing room, since technically it is for trying things on, and I would have sat on the floor instead. I don’t consider it loitering if I stop for 10 minutes in one place when I am actively shopping in a store. If I smoked two packs a day, and had to take a moment to catch my breath, I can’t imagine it would be considered loitering. Or if I had a broken ankle or something. But I digress…
Typically I am happy to just sit in a corner and nurse. I also don’t use nursing covers (although I did when she was little and I wasn’t coordinated), so put on your big-boy panties and look away if you can’t handle it. That’s what I do, look away, every time I am in McDonalds and have to watch someone suck down a Big Mac like they haven’t eaten in 6 weeks. I’d rather not watch that either. (Hmmmm…. so, if YOU who are opposed to me nursing in public will eat YOUR Big Mac in the bathroom, I will consider nursing there.)
2) My boobs are NOT hanging out. Seriously. Above is a picture of my baby nursing. A close up. Do you see my boob? Her body covers most all of me and she has her mouth over the interesting bits.
3) This is what they are meant for. That’s why they make milk. Which brings me to the most hysterical part of this whole sad story:
4) Seriously – I should be worried about whipping my boobs out at a place like HOLLISTER??? I spend my money there on my older kid, I don’t care about the fact that they run the ads they do – but SERIOUSLY……
Owned by Abercrombie and Fitch, here are the types of ads they run (copyright to A &F or Hollister of course)
And, from the obscenity case in 2008:
I find it hysterical that they commented very quickly on that case, but haven’t released any public statement so far on this one. I guess our demographic isn’t that big of a concern to them.
So, what’s the big deal about nursing in public? Other than the fact that it is legal for me to do, there are a few other bits I want to leave you with.
It is a hard thing to nurse a baby. I think it is easier than bottle feeding once you get the hang of it, but for many moms, getting started sucks. Knowing that they are supported in the community makes a lasting impression, conscious or not.
Nursing is easier when you have seen other people do it successfully. Anecdotally, I would bet most nursing moms would agree with me, but Aruban Breastfeeding Mamas just blogged about it too.
Nursing reduces healthcare costs. Sorry, yes, I know your FF baby was very healthy – I am just talking statistics here. On the whole, breastfed infants require less doctors visits, and breastfeeding mothers have lower risks of Type 2 diabetes and breast cancer.
What that means for the rest of us, well, if we are going to a more socialized healthcare system, should be obvious. I would rather spend my tax money on a skatepark or a tree farm, or a new NASA space program than on sick babies. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of sick babies. I’m saying we should do EVERYTHING we can to help each other to have less sick babies.
Even if we don’t go with a more socialized healthcare system – moms in Texas who qualify for WIC get either a) all of their baby’s formula for free for the first year or b) some milk, cereal, carrots, tuna and peanut butter for free if nursing. Would you like to guess what is a lower burden on our tax payers?
I won’t even get into the studies on attachment parenting and creating an overall better society one breastfed baby at a time. Absolutely you can be a wonderful parent and bottle feed, but for some of us (myself included), breastfeeding can make a big difference. I think I was probably at risk of not being the best mommy I could be when I had Todd at 19, but breastfeeding kicked in the right hormones to keep me attached and engaged in parenting him. He is growing into a really awesome member of society and I believe that attachment parenting (which I found through the gateway of breastfeeding) was a big part of that.
It is good for all of us as a society to embrace and encourage all parents in their positive choices, breastfeeding included.
My heart goes out to Naomi. I know that she and several other mammas are looking for a reaction from Hollister here, as am I. As soon as more details come out, I’ll share the links. Alternatively, if Hollister chooses not to respond, well, we will let the lactavism begin.