For the Nursing Moms and the “Friend” Who Reported My National Breastfeeding Month Photos

It’s National Breastfeeding Month! It is time to celebrate breastfeeding, promote it’s benefits and instill confidence in the women who want to breastfeed their babies. Did you celebrate by making your profile picture a breastfeeding photo? I did. And STILL is, even after being reported to Facebook for “containing nudity.”

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This morning I changed my Facebook profile picture to a new breastfeeding photo. I actually post A LOT of #breastfeedingselfies regardless of the month, so I was surprised when within minutes of posting I recieved a notice from Facebook that my picture had been reported for nudity. The person who reported my profile picture scrolled through more pictures and reported two breastfeeding selfies of mine within a minute of each other. This hadn’t happened since last year this time. Facebook had just changed their policies right before World Breastfeeding Week, so I had faith that my photo would not be taken down by Facebook, and it wasn’t. So this time, while surprised, I knew I was well within my rights.

I responded by posting a screenshot of the report and then posted yet another breastfeeding photo (I have so many!). My husband encouraged me to post more as my timeline filled with outrage, support, videos and memes. When my vindictive stalker/friend reported the third photo within minutes I pulled out the big guns and shared a breastfeeding photo that included an exposed nipple. That was the last photo to be reported even though I continued to post more breastfeeding photos. I don’t know if they thought I was toast because of the #freethenipple photo or if the overwhelming support from my friends got to them, but they stopped.

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The words of my friends who came to my defense were heart warming. They came from people of all backgrounds; My family, my friends, my co workers. There were hearts everywhere and the words “love” more times than I could count. A great conversation about tandem breastfeeding broke out and things were learned and normalized. Some shared their own breastfeeding photos – a few people even shared my photos on their timelines!

Here are some of my favorite comments:

“I reported your photo as BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!” – A mother of teens

“Hmm wonder if those peeps also complain about girls in skimpy swimsuits too!” – A male with no children

“Beautiful “motherhood” photo.”
– A gay male friend

“Whoever it was should unfriend you instead if reporting you! Your pictures are beautiful and classy!”
-A nursing mother

“If a woman feeding her child offends you, then don’t look, unfollow, or unfriend the person. Handle you f* business like an adult and don’t go “tattling to the teacher” because something most people are cool with offends your uptight, puritanical sensibilities. I see people post “torture porn’ all the time on FB (and I get they usually want to bring attention to cruelty) but show a woman, feeding her child, or wearing too little clothing for your taste, and start howling to FB. Why? why do they get to be the FB picture police? Because it makes them uncomfortable? Because “won’t someone please think of the children?!!!”? A picture of a mother lovingly caring for her child is something they should not see? Really?!!!! And if you are that concerned about when your kid is seeing, MONITOR THEIR ONLINE ACTIVITIES!!!!!”
-A male with no children

“That was my first thought “come on people you have met Mandi, right?????” Why did you friend her if boobies offend you? heehee”
-A mom/colleague

“I love you and so glad you are my cousin’s wonderful wife. And you stand up for yourself .. you rock!”
-My husband’s cousin

“Crazy!!! Why are people so close minded it’s a normal beautiful thing, I wish I could have nursed (my son) longer but the stress of losing my grandfather so suddenly caused things to dry up. It was a great 6 weeks a wonderful bonding experience one like no other. Keep fighting!!!!”
-A childhood friend

“It’s a beautiful picture! Nothing offensive about it. People are crazy!!”
-A previous client

“Oh my goodness you have got to be kidding me!!!! Really??? This infuriates me to degrees I cannot express here! I wish these were not anonymous . That is wrong on so many levels! Thank you for sharing that Facebook got it right! Glad it happened to you Mandi! You don’t crumble to this kind of nonsense whereas someone else might. Love you with your badass self!”
-A mom of older children

“OH MY GOD A NAKED BOOOOOOOOBIE!!!!! How dare you? My EYES!!! They were so naive and virginal before this!!! *cough gasp cough* But, really, I effing love you.”
– A female colleague with no children

“Breastfeeding is beautiful, I can’t wait to do it again!! I don’t understand why this person doesn’t just ignore it if they find it offensive, or unfriend you completely. Bizarre that people have an issue with something so natural and healthy.”
-A childhood friend

“They obviously have zero life. It’s easier (for me) to pity them, than counter them. Keep doing you! The majority of cerebral, thinking adults are not offended by these beautiful images. What a sad life that a nipple would get you up in arms! I can think of some words/images worth being upset over: Ferguson, Gaza, ISIS, food scarcity for children in the US, the polar ice caps. Nipple? Not so much.”
– A recent second time mom

“Keep em coming girl!! This is beautiful and you’re beautiful!”
-A female with no children

“Maybe we should all stick our phones inside our shirts, take a photo, tag you in it and add a hashtag of #suckthis”
-My husband’s cousin, who nursed her four children

“There are so many things to push back against, protest against, and change. This is not one of them. This person needs a good talking to and if you figure out who it is, I volunteer for the job.” -A mom of older boys, of whom I have nursed in front of

“Why don’t we all share Mandi’s photo? If we all share enough, it’ll be all over the place in no time!!”
-My Aunt, who also shared her own breastfeeding experience in another post

“Breastfeeding is like the most historically ancient natural thing ever. Eve did not have Similac… (glad I did) Unfortunately, the things that ought to be reported get passed around and giggled at. And clicked on so much they pass the viruses with the smut….” -A college friend

“Lemme at ’em, I’ll squirt ’em in the eye!” – A nursing mother

“What a happy baby. Screw those who have inferior brains. I’m for one happy to see baby and breasts intermingled. Certainly there was no Infamil back in the day when women delivered in the rice/cotton/corn field. I would love to show my baby happily nursing on her mommy any day of the year!” – A college friend

“Me thinketh someone likes your boobies they get you all riled up and voila! More boobies!”
– A full term breastfeeding mom/colleague

“I hope this was a stranger and not someone in your “friends list”. I mean you see more “nudity ” than that on prime tv.”
– A mom who did not breastfeed

“Rock the f* on, Mandi!! Keep posting! (‘Scuse my language but this reporting of pictures REALLY pisses me off!!)”
-A nursing mom

One friend with an older child simply posted a GIF of Robert Downey Jr rolling his eyes

Then, as the “pending review” status of my reported photos started coming back with “This doesn’t violate the community standard, so it has not been removed” I gleefully shared screen shots of the reports! The true test was when the photo with the exposed nipple was deemed to meet the community standards. I felt like I had won.

A little bit. The only thing that would make me happier than this particular individual unfriending me would be if they actually understood that breastfeeding is just how some moms feed their babies. That it is not sexual, it is not gross. It IS something to be seen and celebrated, and explained to children everywhere that THAT is what breasts are for. Not cleavage, not sex (although those things are fun) but are milk bags that feed babies and happen to have secondary sexual characteristics.

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BREASTFEEDING IS NORMAL.

I am so glad for today. For all of the breastfeeding love that was spread, the support that was given and the lessons that were learned. Mostly I am glad that Facebook diligently adhered to their established standards.

So moms, have no fear. While there are still vindictive, ignorant twits out in the world, me and Facebook got your back. Post those breastfeeding photos for National Breastfeeding Month! Only a few weeks left!

#NBM14 #breastfeedingisnormal #FeelFreetoNIP #suckthis #breastfeedingisbeautiful #NIP

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Boobies or Breasts? Why not both?! A look at breasts and sexuality

This piece was written and performed at Bedpost Confessions, a live, monthly storytelling show in Austin: Smart. Sexy. Stories.

Showing off some cleavage before the show

Showing off some cleavage before the show


I love breasts. Breasts, boobs, tits, bazongas, whatever you want to call them. Big breasts, ittie bitty breasts, perky breasts, torpedo breasts, I love them all. Breasts with little nipples, dinner plate nipples, clothes hanger nipples, and one of my personal favorites – inverted nipples! I like to think inverted niples have special powers. As an innie I have to say my nipples are a direct channel to my sexuality AND I never have to worry about my headlights being on! The wild variations of breast shapes and sizes are intriguing to me; I can find beauty in all of them. I love MY breasts, I love YOUR breasts! If your breasts are there for me to see I’m a-lookin’.  I am no stranger to the struggle to maintain eye contact with the owner of a voluptuous pair.

Sometimes I stand in the mirror and admire my own. I can’t help but notice the imperfections; one is bigger than the other, there are a few silvery stretch marks and, ugh, a hair! What the HELL is THAT about?! What evolutionary purpose does nipple hair serve?!  My variations of normal are noticeable, but I also see the general softness and porcelain curves. I see beauty, femininity and realness in their flaws. In my reflection I can envision my breasts inviting some poor soul’s tearful head to rest; giving comfort that only a bosom can provide. These things – these lumps of glorified fatty tissue – that my clothes accentuate, that my bras lift, that the public eye begs to see. I cannot change them, so I have worked hard to love them. I shouldn’t have had to work so hard.

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I have always enjoyed the eroticism of my breasts. No better way to derail all of my thought processes than to cop a feel and end with a gentle pinch of the nip. At least that was until my fun-time bags became BREASTS. BREASTS. When I became a mom my breasts were no longer mine – or my husband’s – but were now subject to the dictatorship of a tiny human being who begged for them more than any man I have ever met.  

I have to say though, I do think breastfeeding has given me some insight into the male erection – stay with me, here. Stimulation causes a fluid to build up which makes the breasts become hard until there is an uncontrollable climax. If that climax is interrupted, the discomfort of engorgement sets in – the female version of blue-balls; blue breasts, I guess? So then I sulk off alone to take care of it myself, begrudgingly attaching my pump. *err – err – err- err* And sure, it works well enough, but it’s just not quite as satisfying as the real thing. I feel for you guys and your poor blue balls.

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So while this insight was quite valuable, these breasts were not just for fun anymore. They were for my infant, and now even my three (soon to be 4!)-year-old who admires them greatly. She often caresses them when she thinks I’m not paying attention, just out of awe and curiosity. She knows they have power. And now my breasts are all business. I’ve had doctors, lactation consultants, other moms – and as I became more comfortable – pretty much everyone in my general vicinity seeing and sometimes even touching my breasts. But… it sure ain’t sexy. It’s work! It is true love’s sacrifice.

My breasts are still fun for everyone, just in a different way. Whether it is my nursling feeding while simultaneously clutching and pinching the opposite nipple (seriously, Why?! WHY?), or my four year old telling the story of the time mommy went on the boat and her boobies went A-BOOM BOOM BOOM (no really, she has said this while bouncing my breasts weekly since our boat trip in August) or my husband trying to sneak in some time with them for himself, it is clear that things are no longer the same.

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For one, my view of the eroticism of my breasts is totally different. I am now known to give dirty looks and swat at my husband if he so much as looks longingly at my breasts when I am preparing to nurse. It must be torture for him to have them so close, yet so far away. I know some people are into age-play and milk fetishes, – and honestly after some thought I kind of understand the draw – but breastfeeding is NOT sexy. Think of the sexiest thing ever combined with the least sexy, but sweetest, thing ever – like receiving the best oral sex you’ve ever had… while your grandma endearingly strokes your hair. Ack! THAT is how I feel when my husband attempts to caress my breast while my baby is nursing. *shudder* Oil and water, my friends. Or foremilk and hindmilk…

Did you know that breastmilk cannot be duplicated by science? It has antibacterial properties that can heal pink eye, ear infections, eczema, and sinus infections. That’s right, I put that shit straight in my neti pot! Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s chances of breast cancer and helps her lose weight. Breastmilk takes on the flavor of food, giving breastfed toddlers a better palate for fruits, vegetables and other healthy choices later in life. Not only that, it reduces their risk of obesity, diabetes and cancer. Best of all it calms fussy babies and it’s FREE.  Breastmilk is fucking MAGIC. It’s not “ew”.  I’ve tasted my own breast milk, and it is sweet, totally palatable. I’m pretty certain my husband has tasted it during foreplay, too. But who cares? Worst case scenario: it gives him superpowers. I bet you that after a night of heavy drinking, a shot of breast milk would alleviate a hangover. Hell, give me some rum and Kahlua and I will make my own White Russians. Party. All. NIGHT.

Like, no really. Breastmilk White Russians. Someone should market this!

Like, no really. Breastmilk White Russians. Someone should market this!

So this is what kills me. My non-lactating breasts are quite popular. Delightful toys for the joy of men and women alike! Titties, titties, titties! But whip out a BREAST for its intended purpose? Ludicrous! How dare you feed your baby in the presence of others, you might offend someone! Breasts and nipples, in my opinion, need not be covered solely because they have secondary sexual characteristics. The city of Austin agrees with me; I can walk through downtown with my shirt off and it is perfectly legal. Texas also has a lesser known law regarding my breasts (I wonder how many laws there are governing men’s bodies? Hmmmmm.) – and that law says that I can breastfeed anywhere that I am authorized to be.

Some people might say “Sure, but with a cover, because like, modesty, right?!”  It is totally unrealistic to think that every baby will tolerate a blanket draped over their head. Do YOU want to eat with your napkin over your face?! I will cover my baby while she eats when all those bottle feeding perverts stop waving around their nipple dildos and cover that shit up.

Breastfeeding my daughter at a post-natal yoga class.

Breastfeeding my daughter at a post-natal yoga class.

If I can freely use a fake nipple to feed or soothe my baby it should be perfectly acceptable for me to use a real one. Just as most people would be terribly offended by, say, a stranger’s penis wagging in their face, they would only be slightly more comfortable if someone were to wag a lifelike dildo in their face. So if you are not offended at all when I feed my baby with a fake nipple, you should probably only be a little uncomfortable with my actual nipple. And hey, we are slightly uncomfortable on the daily: like when someone crop dusts us with a rank fart, or they lean over to show their plumber’s crack – or even better – their whale tail we get uncomfortable, but we don’t tell them to leave or “do that somewhere else.” We say nothing; we giggle at our discomfort and move on.

So people say “WTF, Mandi, you just said there are deviants out there lusting after your breastmilk, don’t you want to cover those bodacious milky tatas up?!” I say “no”. Just like I don’t hide my feet for the sake of foot fetishists or refuse to pee in a public restroom to avoid people who like water play.

Nope. I will nurse with reckless abandon just as I have openly shared my cleavage all these years. I’ve come to terms with my breasts and I am reclaiming my fun-time-bags. While breastfeeding has changed my relationship with my breasts I am slowly starting to give them their sexual freedom back; letting them loose to sway as I walk around the house, pushing them up occasionally to show off a little cleavage, allowing a fondle or two and sometimes even asking for one. The best thing about my forever-changed breasts is that they are now so soft. Soft and comforting, like a mother’s breasts should be. While perky has it’s benefits I gotta give my breasts some mad respect. They were a sole source of nutrition, giving life to my children – all on their own – for six months, and they have continued to give them the nutrition and immunities that they need to be healthy and strong well into toddler-hood.

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Besides, I can make soft and comforting sexy. I can walk around with confidence topless with tight jeans (my husband’s personal favorite) and feel like the sexiest woman on earth; soft silver-ridden breasts and all. Because they are what I’ve got and they are amazing. All breasts are amazing, and powerful, and worthy of respect. We cannot compare our breasts to each other because they are as diverse, if not more so, as the population of the country we live in. What we see on TV is not all there is.

So, if I ever do find myself comparing myself to those awful fashion magazines in the checkout line and feel dragged down by the fallacy of my “abnormal” breasts, I just remember my three year old saying “I want boobies like yours, momma, so I can feed baby sister!”… A BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM!

 

Normalizing: A Happy Breastfeeding in Public Story

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Breastfeeding in Public

Yesterday my family went to eat and play at Southpark Meadows. My three-and-a-half-year-old daughter waltzed around the empty stage and made a new friend, a(n almost) two-year-old boy. I wore my six-month-old on my chest as I sat with my husband and the boy’s dad, laughing and taking pictures while our kids did the most adorable little dance together. As the mom and pop-arazzi took their shots, up walked the little boy’s mom.

She was nursing a seven-week-old baby boy using a cover. The show stopped and the dancing fiends came over to us as we all started to chat. My daughter – who has never seen me breastfeed with a cover – soon realized there was a baby under there and started trying to peek in through the top and lift the edges so she could see the tiny baby. I swiftly grabbed her hand and reminded her about privacy, concerned that she was going to embarrass the little boy’s mom.

“I’m so sorry, she is so used to seeing me nurse that she doesn’t realize you might not want to show yourself,” I apologize.

To my surprise the nursing momma tells me, “If it’s ok with you it doesn’t bother me if she looks.”

I let go of my daughter’s hand and tell her it is OK to look. She lifts the cover, sticks her ENTIRE head in there and looks at the little baby, still latched on.

“Aaaawwwwwwwwww! CUTE baby!” She squeals.

Then… nothing. There was no talk of breasts, milk or how babies eat. She made no judgement on her new friend’s exposed breast, how her baby ate or the choices she made. Just an observation of how cute that tiny little baby was and then we all moved on with our conversation.

It struck me later how insignificant this was to my daughter because breastfeeding is so NORMAL to her. I am so thankful to this mom, whom I didn’t even know, for being open to sharing her nursing experience with my daughter so that I could witness this beautiful “nothing.”

What if we lived in a world where women could breastfeed their babies, exposed, in public, and the only whisper to be heard would be, “Awwwwwwww! What a cute baby!”

Normalize breastfeeding. It works.

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You can also find this story here: http://keepaustinnip.blogspot.com/2013/09/happy-breastfeeding-in-public-story.html#links