It’s been an interesting year to be a boob, to own one or two of them and to try to use them to produce food for a baby. Women all over the place are doing the daily diligence of reclaiming the normalcy of breastfeeding—in public, in private, on a yacht, in a wooded glen filled with magical butterflies; you name the location, women are breastfeeding proudly there. And do you know why? Because their babies are hungry. That’s kind of it. But it’s still seen by some as a pretty radical act to feed your baby. Strange, isn't it, that to bare your breasts for something other than a string of Mardi Gras beads is still a political act?
Here, we take a look back at the best and worst breastfeeding moments of 2015. You know that "My year in review" Facebook thing that everyone you know is posting right now? It's like that, only about breastfeeding, and without pictures of your high school friend's cat.
It’s been quite the year for breast-shaming, even inadvertent breast-shaming.
- A Brazilian pediatricians’ association launched an ad campaign that ended up working against its own goals, implying to mothers that if they didn’t have the perfect diet, breastfeeding was providing their babies with junk food.
- A Marshalls store employee asked a woman to go breastfeed her baby in a bathroom stall. (Because, you know, that’s where he probably eats his sandwich on his lunch break too.)
- The Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar denied a breastfeeding mother extra time on her bar exam. (I’m no expert, but it seems like you should not get on the wrong side of a woman who is about to become a lawyer.)
- A traveling, pumping mom got sent to an airport “pet relief area” to make food for her baby.
- The always-hit-or-miss TSA broke a working mom’s breast pump while she was traveling.
The Mixed Bag
And then, there were glimmers of hope.
- A Houston restaurant came under fire for allegedly asking a breastfeeding mother to leave (although details are murky). Instead of responding in anger, the restaurant organized a Feed-In and donated 20 percent of all sales from the event to a milk bank.
- A JetBlue flight attendant sent influential bridal fashionista Molly Guy to the airplane bathroom to pump, and she shared the experience with her 100,000+ Instagram followers, who were not happy about it. The airline quickly apologized and updated its policies company-wide.
- The American Civil Liberties Union took on the town of Springfield, Missouri, for basically banning side boob and nip slips, except, of course, in local strip clubs.
The Signs of Progress
Of course, because we are all awesome and we’re making stuff happen, we had some serious wins this year too.
- The United States Army banned bathrooms as lactation areas.
- Target was straight-up adored by moms everywhere when an employee photo of their “let women breastfeed wherever the $&#$ they want to” policy went viral (admittedly, some editorializing on our part).
- Instagram finally got over itself and started allowing breastfeeding photos.
- An Argentinian politician fed her baby during a Parliamentary session.
- Start-up company Mamava continued its quest to get pumping pods installed in airports nationwide.
- Big companies Twitter and IBM started shipping business-tripping mother’s milk home for them.
- I tried to do my little part by contributing to the world of stock photography, with images that actually represent what working/breastfeeding motherhood looks like.
As 2016 rolls in, the future looks bright. There’s still so much to do; generally speaking, women at blue-collar jobs continue to get the shaft on breastfeeding-at-work support, which is all the more reason we need some national paid leave up in here. But as so many of these examples show, it’s harder, in a social media age, for the bad guys to hide their discriminatory behavior. Word gets out, and hell hath no fury like a million moms on the Internet. The most important things to do? Keep talking—in a way that supports every family’s own feeding journey. And don’t hide your breastfeeding pride— whatever that looks like for you—because when kids grow up around breastfeeding as a norm, they’ll be better, more inclusive adults for it.
Did we miss anything major? What were your breastfeeding highs and lows in 2015?