Let’s talk about boobs. It’s something we do not irregularly around here and that’s OK because there’s a lot to talk about, like here, here and even here. Sometimes I think we have canvassed all the opinions on breastfeeding and then.. then I read an article that shows there are more. Did you read Kim Kardashians rant on Twitter a few days ago about how she was in a restaurant and a woman was breastfeeding ‘without a cover’ and how she thought that was disgusting? Yes, this is the woman who was in a sex video where someone (apparently) weed on her. I’m just saying.
Anyway, breastfeeding is nothing if not a subject that is guaranteed to arouse very passionate feelings. It’s one of those things that nobody seems content to just do. Or not do. Oh no. We have to do (or not do) and then loudly protest about the way everyone else does (or doesn’t do) it. Mamamia reader and contributor Lucy Brook brought my attention to this story and I asked her to write about it. She writes:
“Breastfeeding” and “creepy” are two words generally not found hanging out in sentences together, but hey, until five minutes ago, I thought “fun bags” meant the kind you took home from children’s birthday parties.
After Kim Kardashian’s mindless tweet last week about a breastfeeding mum spoiling her lunch (she later backtracked, tweeting that breastfeeding is “natural” and her sister does it, but “not with her boobs exposed”), a British parenting magazine has published a piece written by its deputy editor describing breastfeeding as “creepy”.
Under the headline “I formula fed. So what?”, Kathryn Blundell says in this month’s Mother & Baby that she bottlefed her child from birth because “I wanted my body back. (And some wine)… I also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around my stomach.”
She goes on to say: “They’re part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags. And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy.”
She concedes that “there are all the studies that show [breastfeeding] reduces the risk of breast cancer for you, and stomach upsets and allergies for your baby. But even the convenience and supposed health benefits of breast milk couldn’t induce me to stick my nipple in a bawling baby’s mouth.”
She continues: “I don’t think I’m the only one, either – only 52 per cent of mums still breastfeed after six weeks. Ask most of the quitters why they stopped and you’ll hear tales of agonising three-hour feeding sessions and – the drama! – bloody nipples. But I often wonder whether many of these women, like me, just couldn’t be fagged or felt like getting tipsy once in a while.”
Boobs are called “fun bags” now? I must have missed the memo.
In response to Kathryn’s piece, Daily Mail columnist Bel Mooney, who describes breastfeeding her first born as “a miserable failure” and was too ill to express for her second who was cooped up in intensive care, says the article raises questions about modern society’s attitudes to femininity and motherhood.
This is an attitude that I can see creeping up in society at large: one in which motherhood is seen as tiresome, inconvenient and intrusive on a woman’s ‘right’ to work hard, play hard and fulfill herself sexually.
Reading Kathryn Blundell’s words, I can’t banish a nightmare vision of a bunch of Stepford Barbies having their designer babies by elective Caesarian then handing the smelly, demanding little bundles of humanity over to strangers to take care of, while they get right back on the pleasure machine known as a lover. Oh, and cracking open the Bolly, of course.
Even if only one young mother gives up on breastfeeding because she agrees with Blundell that it’s far more important to be able to have a glass of wine and keep her sexy figure than pass on immunities to her baby – then the Mother & Baby article will have done harm.
Here is what I think: women have many different feelings about breastfeeding, many different experiences and many different attitudes. I’d love for there to be more tolerance of views expressed. If one woman finds it creepy FOR HERSELF then she should be allowed to say it.
Me? I love it. FOR ME. I’ve had good and lousy experiences with breastfeeding. I’ve felt smug and I’ve felt guilty. But I’ve never felt judged except by myself.
Ok. That’s my view. What’s yours?
Can you really only be one or the other – a sex object with perky breasts or a mother with droopy ones? Can you relate to Kathryn Blundell’s piece – would you choose not to breastfeed to preserve your pre-baby breasts? Or do you think her article is just a ploy to reignite the breast vs. bottle battle and drum up media attention for Mother & Baby?