Why Hide?

When I became a mom for the first time, I printed out Wisconsin’s Public Breastfeeding Law and stuck it in our diaper bag, always expecting to be harassed for nursing in public. I am pleased to report that I never needed to recite it to any onlookers.

In reality, Willow and I didn’t spend much time nursing in public though; I meticulously planned our outings around Willow’s predicted feedings and usually scampered away to nurse in the car when she asked to eat. Oh the shame.

IMG_1756Nursing in public with Iris has proven to be much different. I’ve breastfed through Target and Trader Joe’s, in a fairy garden and on the zoo train, during weddings and large family gatherings.

Perhaps it was that amazing Luvs breastfeeding commercial that boosted my confidence as a second-time mom. Maybe it was reading Chantal Molnar’s Breastfeeding and Feminism that finally helped me realize that it’s ridiculous not to nurse whenever, wherever.

“We don’t seem to have any problem with the duality of our mouths, which can be for sex and for eating. We do not make people cover their heads with a blanket when they are eating in public simply because the mouth is frequently used sexually,” she writes.

Maybe it was the comment a mother left in a Facebook group responding to a comment likening feeding a baby in public to micturating and defecating in public.

“As soon as you enjoy a feces sandwich and wash it down with a nice, tall glass of urine, I will cover up while breastfeeding,” she so crudely and cleverly replied.

Whatever work it was, social commentary on the state of breastfeeding in our culture plays an important role in renormalizing infant feeding.

One day, I nursed my hungry Iris at the restaurant table while enjoying a lovely, southwestern inspired salad. To my surprise, as another young family left the restaurant, the mother flashed me an encouraging smile and thumbs up. My heart swelled, my face lit up and I floated above my seat on Cloud Nine.

Brian Salmon AKA Brian The Birth Guy and his team have started a movement called WHY HIDE to empower moms to feed their babies whenever, wherever and to squash the stigma of breastfeeding in public.

The campaign’s first image, captured by photographer Bea Simmons, features doula Xelina Flores “nursing” a baby, blending into a brick wall. The text simply asks, “Why Hide?”WHY HIDE image

Salmon and his team of volunteers plan to print several posters to distribute to any interested business or organization. The image is also available electronically for anyone to share and use.

“She’s trying to blend in the best she can,” Salmon says of the model. “She looks slightly scared and she just wants to feed her baby.”

Artist Can2, who airbrushed the brick on the model’s body, saw the WHY HIDE campaign as “the perfect opportunity to expose [a] flaw that society has with something so natural.”

He explains the struggle his ex-wife endured: “When we were out in public it was such a hassle…You actually cause more visual attention by trying to hide [while breastfeeding.]”

Can2 says he always felt like he needed to help hide his ex-wife even when he didn’t think it was “right.”

“Women should be able to enjoy breastfeeding, not be looked down on,” he says.

WHY HIDE’s cultural commentary plays an important role in the gradual, renormalization of breastfeeding.

“When people see images like this, it really does hit home,” Salmon says. “We really do make it difficult for people to feed their babies.”

As WHY HIDE team member Alejandra Torres puts it, “This is not only a project for moms, but a project for everyone.”

Afterall, “In almost every other country, nobody really cares– you’re just feeding your baby,” Salmon adds. “We’re all here because of breastmilk. We’re not here because of formula and hamburgers and smashed up berries and nuts.”

Salmon and his crew plan to capture more images in different settings in the upcoming months.

Join the movement to renormalize breastfeeding through images. To share the WHY HIDE image visit: https://www.facebook.com/whyhidebf. Also stay tuned for Salmon’s Rocking Dads Retreats in 2015.

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