A mother who was publicly shamed for breastfeeding her baby in an American restaurant — by a man who took her picture and posted it, with criticism, on social media — has pushed back with a fierce response that’s been galvanising supporters from around the world.
“Many of the comments that followed [his post] were nothing less than harassing and shameful to not only me, but every past, present, and future nursing mother,” wrote Conner Kendall of Terra Haute, Indiana, on Thursday in a lengthy and passionate Facebook post that has been shared more than 73,000 times.
“Let’s show everyone that we will not stand for being put down, shamed, and harassed for simply fulfilling our children’s most basic need.”
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The brouhaha began when an unknown man, sitting at a nearby table with his young daughter, photographed Kendall as she nursed her infant. He then posted it online, without her knowledge or permission, noting, “OK mums out there. I know when a baby is hungry they need [to be] fed. I want to know if this is appropriate or inappropriate as I’m trying to eat my Fridays, there are little kids around. I understand feeding in public but can you at least cover your boob up? Your input is needed!”
The shamer — not identified by Kendall because “I’m not bashing like I was bashed” — reportedly removed his post shortly after Kendall posted hers, so the comments he elicited cannot be seen. But they, combined with the man’s post to begin with, were enough to inspire a 1700-word takedown from the irate mum (who did not respond to a request for further comment from Yahoo Parenting).
In it, she explains that she wrote to him in a private post, noting, among other points, “As I was admiring how adorable your daughter was, you were posting pictures of me on Facebook and Instagram. While I in no way, shape, or form owe you any explanation I would like to clarify a few things. I did nothing wrong, I turned away to latch my son and pulled my shirt back up when he was finished out of respect for others in the restaurant.”
She doesn’t use covers because her son hates them, she writes.
“I wanted to thank you for showing the public your ignorance and for shedding light on a topic that is near and dear to my heart,” she continues.
“Through your violation of my and my child’s privacy you have done a few things.”
Among them, Kendall notes, “you’ve shown your true colours to many and you’ve exposed others who are likewise simpleminded,” as well as giving her “a platform and a drive to advocate breastfeeding ferociously. You’ve inspired me into a call of action.”
She goes on to deliver a dose of parenting advice.
“I strongly encourage you to educate yourself as well as your daughter about breastfeeding,” she writes.
“Breasts are meant to be used to feed our young. It is society that has sexualises them. Children do not sexualise breasts until they are taught to do so. I pray that if in the future your daughter chooses to breastfeed that she is not shamed and does not have her picture plastered all over social media.”
The nearly 200 comments on Kendall’s post are overwhelmingly positive, and come from supporters from as far away as Arizona, Canada, and Malaysia. Some dads apologise on behalf of the shaming man, other commenters simply write, “I support you,” and others praise her for turning a bad situation into a positive one, adding the #normalizebreastfeeding hashtag that spiked recently, when a photo of model Nicole Trunfio nursing her infant landed on the cover of Elle Australia.
Supermodel Nicole Trunfio defends breastfeeding frenzy
While nursing-in-public “scandals” typically involve mums being shamed without retribution or (illegally) kicked out of public spaces, Kendall’s story is actually just one of two to have gone viral over the weekend due to a satisfying twist.
The second story, out of a Queensland, Australia, café, concerned a man who scolded a breastfeeding woman, asked her to cover up, and complained to the café owner about the public nursing. But the Cheese and Biscuits Café proprietor, Jessica-Anne Allen, surprised the guy by asking him to leave instead of the mum.
“We do not in anyway believe that to breast feed a baby is anything to be ashamed of and we will not ask customers to cover up,” Allen posted on Facebook.
“We would appreciate it if you would respect our choice and not ask our customers to cover up yourselves.”
Let’s hope this pro-mama trend continues.
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