Monday, May 23, 2011

Cross-Cultural Breastfeeding and The Boob.

Mommy and Son getting a snack together in Brazil

I keep stumbling across articles about mass breastfeeding sit-ins. Women all over the US fighting for their right to breastfeed without discrimination. I find this mind boggling. Never in my experience as a Mother in Rio de Janeiro have I felt discriminated against because of my breastfeeding.

In actuality, I was quite encouraged. Hell, anyone who has seen pictures of the Carnaval parade know that Cariocas aren't afraid of a little boob.

I never even got a sideways glance. Actually, they stared full on. The comfort level was so high that I thought they were going to come and introduce themselves to my girls, give them a high five, and take a picture.

Everyone from the Grandma to the parking guy to the best friend to some random old lady thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world. Whenever my boy was working the boob people felt the need to come and congratulate me. Not only this, they wanted to stroke the nursing baby's head and give him a kiss. Women would actually take a peek to see if he was a good latcher and then congratulate me more.

Honestly, it was a bit much. Then again, support is support even if it's in the form of a nosy cheerleading squad.

When I finally brought my almost 6 month old bundle to the states for a visit I was prepared to be a bit more modest. I knew the population there preferred their breasts size DD and on anorexic actresses as opposed to on a Mother feeding her baby. I even picked up one of those obnoxious blanket things. But it wasn't enough for some people! Even when I would find an isolated area in a food court and cloak my child like a Middle Eastern woman, I still got crap!

It was such a wake up call for me. On one hand a 15 year old girl could be wearing clothes that would make a tranny hooker blush but what I was doing was inappropriate.

I wanted to take me and my breastfeeding baby back to Brazil where he could eat in peace, but that wouldn't have accomplished anything now would it. Instead I breastfed more. I thoroughly pissed off an older woman at a makeup counter in Nordstrom when I stayed in the little seat and let my boy use my boobs in the way God intended them to be.

Regardless of my defiance, it comes down to education. At some point we Americans decided breastfeeding was indecent. Old men can ogle overly-developing teens but Mothers using them to feed their children are just crossing the line.

Where on Earth did we Mothers get the idea that breasts belong in a baby's mouth?! The insanity! Personally, I blame rap music.


  1. Americans can be so kid friendly in some aspects, but I really don't understand why people get so offended by breastfeeding! Maybe it's time to do some "mamaço" like the one in São Paulo.

  2. Yes! Always blame rap music.

  3. It's freaking ridiculous, I saw a big argument on a plane once because a lady wanted to breastfeed her baby and the flight attendants saved the day and invited the young mother into the FIRST CLASS cabin for the reminder of the trip.
    She got the freshly baked cookies and all.
    The complaining party wanted to be the ones transfered to 1st Class but I guess the flight attendant had her mind set on helping the mother, which was great!
    People need to get the hell over the whole boob thing in this country, it's 2011 people, not the 1800's!
    For Christs sake!


  4. I dont understand why is so bad in america to breastfeed in public? In europe is also normal (at least in all the countries I have been to)

  5. Great article, but can we not use offensive words like 'tranny'? It was really spoilt by that and also the totally unnecessary slurs against Muslim women who choose to cover themselves (for not all Middle Eastern people are Muslim) and rap music. Saying all rap music is to blame for women not being able to breastfeed in public is ludicrous. Rap is a genre, not an indicator of views on public nursing.

  6. Thanks Manatees for your opinion. Honestly, I find nothing wrong with the word tranny as it is short for transvestite. My comparison to Muslim women was just that. My child was covered from head to toe as they are. I find nothing derogatory about that and I have full respect for them

    As for rap, I was just being ludicrous. Obviously rap is not to blame. I find it ridiculous when people say it is and was poking fun at that.

  7. I say @manatees wants to take all the fun away! (No offense. Ha!! know because you found the whole thing offensive, so you would probably find that offensive...)
    Anyhoo, I didn't scroll down to comment on @manatees; I wanted to say how I really loved the post, it was well-written and your analogies, similies, metaphors, comparisons...whatever, were what made your writing enjoyable.
    I have tried many a time to sit down and get my thoughts about NIP down in a blog post but I haven't been able to compress them into a central, short thought. Waaayy too ranty. Yours was to the point and you had the beautiful comparison between life in Rio and life in the US.
    I also try to breastfeed in public as much as possible to try and create normalcy (word?) around it. And it's strange how some particular places make my adrenaline rush when I'm doing it, like I'm doing something daring...which it shouldn't be.
    And lastly, I am pleased to announce that I voted for your blog on Circle of Moms yesterday, before I even read this fav post.

  8. I had the same experience when I took my son to the US at 7 months. I actually had a guard at the Smithsonion come up to me while I was breastfeeding on an out of the way bench and tell me "we have rooms for that", which of course was a tiny room barely big enough to sit down, way on the other side of the museum. I just learned to turn a blind eye and breastfeed whenever I needed to regardless of the stares.

  9. Don't worry Rachel! I got your rap joke!

  10. Thanks Bebediaries! I think normalcy is a word... I use it anyway

    Corinne, I would have hit him with my boob ;)

    Laura, of course you did! :)

  11. One of my (ex) childhood friends was pregnant and the conversation of breastfeeding came up. To which she replied, "Eew disgusting, my boobs are for sex." I think there's a lot of ignorance out there and the fact that people thing it's vulgar or inappropriate is ridiculous. Love the picture =)

  12. "Eew disgusting, my boobs are for sex."
    some people are just nonsense really

  13. Wow TLC, that's freaking crazy!

  14. It's funny that so many people have comments made to them in public while nursing. I've nursed both of my children in public, and not always in out of the way place (ie at the table in the middle of a restraunt and an airplane or two) and have never had anyone say anything to me. I live in the South Carolina, not the most progressive or liberal state. I don't even cover them up, I hate those damn nursing covers, my poor babies get hot and sweaty. I do wish there was a less ignorant view of boobs in the US though. Great post Rachel!