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Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor

Mexico’s Controversial Breastfeeding Campaign

PUBLISHED ON 05/27/2014

Taken aback by this ad? You're not alone; Mexico City's breastfeeding campaign this month raised more public scrutiny than public awareness. The ads — which reportedly have already been removed from the city's website — feature incredibly toned topless female celebrities. Their breasts are covered by a banner that reads: "No les des la espalda, dale pecho."  Translation: "Don't turn your back on them, give them your breast."

Yikes. The concern is twofold. First, the ads are heavier on sex appeal than breastfeeding awareness. Second, they make mothers who don't breastfeed seem blameworthy or negligent. When not-your-average mothers express a condescending message, others are bound to get upset.

"It's not only a very terrible campaign in terms of how it looks, but it's also the message that if you don't breastfeed, you are a bad mother and you are the one to blame," says Regina Tames of Mexico's reproductive rights group GIRE.

A successful ad campaign is crucial to Mexico, where breastfeeding rates are some of the lowest in Latin America. Tames tells NPR that poverty, poor nutrition, and inadequate maternity leave hinder the breastfeeding attempts of Mexican women. And Mexico hasn't restricted hospitals from handing out free formula at birth, as encouraged by the World Health Organization.

The ad is a far cry from the  When Nurture Calls campaign recently started in the US. But the two campaigns have very different aims. In America, the ads attempt to take the shame away from public breastfeeding, presumably calling out to disapproving observers. In Mexico, the ads attempt to get women to breastfeed, period. Many say it missed the mark.

What do you think of this breastfeeding campaign?