Actress Selma Blair re-energized an age-old debate on public breastfeeding when she told People Magazine in a recent interview that she doesn’t care who she offends. This isn’t the first time a celebrity brought this topic to center stage. Beyonce Knowles took care of business for her little Blue Ivy recently in New York, and it instantly became a major news story. The battle lines seem to be drawn between those who have been in the situation and those who have not. For example, most mothers understand that when a baby needs nursing, pretty much all petty concerns go to the wayside. Call it maternal instincts. Kim Kardashian weighed in on the other side recently in a Tweet where she commented on another patron in a restaurant breastfeeding her baby with no cover. Kim is not a mother, though, and most of those that side with her in labeling public breastfeeding as inappropriate are also childless.
While celebrities get lots of attention, they rarely get the same treatment as ordinary mothers. Over the past several years, mothers breastfeeding in public have been kicked out of planes, malls, and restaurants. Then, social media juggernaut Facebook got in on the action, banning breastfeeding photographs from its site, placing it under the general category of lewd content.
Opponents of public breastfeeding like to point out the irony in some of these celebrities who frequently sue tabloids for millions over photographs catching them in revealing situations, and yet they don’t mind whipping out their breasts in the park to feed the little ones. While this is technically true, most people consider breastfeeding to be a little different than an outright exhibition, whether it is socially acceptable or not.
For the record, legally, mothers have every right to breastfeed in public. No mother can be arrested or prosecuted for this act, but many are nervous about it and carry copies of the laws around with them in case they are accosted by a police officer. Part of the reason the practice is legal is because it is pretty much universally recognized that breastfeeding in the first six months of a baby’s life is critical to the child’s health and development. The U.S. Surgeon General has programs to try to increase awareness among new mothers to stick to their guns and do what they need to do.
Selma Blair defends herself with a little more flair. When asked to explain in the People interview, Selma said simply “We all have nipples.”
What do you think?