breastfeeding soldiers
The photo that caused a stir

Did you have to look twice at these images? Us too. They are surprising. Unexpected. Incongruous. They challenge preconceptions around soldiers and around motherhood.

But are they inappropriate, problematic or offensive?

The United States military has reprimanded the two serving officers shown in this photo for breastfeeding their children while in uniform.

National Air Guard Members Terran Echegoyen McCabe (nursing her twin daughters) and Christina Luna wanted to show how they nursed in uniform as part of breastfeeding awareness week. They wanted to support other military mothers who might be struggling with the idea or practicalities of breastfeeding their children.

And then things went a bit nuts.

They women may have been dressed for combat, but they weren’t quite expecting sniping from their own side when the pictures unexpectedly went viral.

As mother of twins, Terran, explained:

“I’m proud to be wearing a uniform while breastfeeding. I’m proud of the photo and I hope it encourages other women to know they can breastfeed whether they’re active duty, guard or civilian,” she said.

Why the big fuss? Suggestions ranged from ‘ew, it’s breastfeeding in public‘ to slightly more conspiratorial remarks about the inability of some to see women as soldiers. As the Globe and Mail reported:

breastfeeding soldiers
Despite the gorgeous smiles, this photo was also a problem.

“The moms in the campaign have suggested that the issue may have more to do with the notion that people have a hard time seeing moms as soldiers. And, really, are they expecting moms to get changed into civilian clothes every time they need to nurse?”

The military, for its part, says it was unhappy simply because the women were taking part in a ‘civilian cause’ while in military uniform. Members are also not allowed to hold hands, kiss, talk on a mobile phone while walking or carry an umbrella (that isn’t black) while in uniform.

But the specific policy on breastfeeding? There is none.

One of the support group’s moms said she didn’t wish to challenge the military.

“We’re wanting to support moms who are breast-feeding. It was never about the military. It’s about the women who wear the uniforms,” Crystal Scott, founder of the Mom2Mom support group serving the Fairchild Air Force Base, told the Daily News Friday.

“We love our military. We don’t want to go against them at all.”

And they’re not against you, Crystal. So long as your bosoms are holstered.

Tell us: what was your first reaction to the images?

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