Friday, February 27, 2009

positive breastfeeding images...accidentally

It sometimes seems that positive breastfeeding images are hard to come by, even though, as we all know, breast is best. That is why I have taken a personal pledge of being a Lactivist and diving headfirst into a positive breastfeeding campaign. If you did not already know, lactivism is positive breastfeeding activism. The main goal of Lactivism is creating change due to positive action. It can take many forms, including working to help get laws enacted to support breastfeeding mothers and their children, educating mothers and mothers-to-be on the benefits of breastfeeding and the disadvantages of supplementing with formula, and demonstrating against those who interfere with the nursing relationship between mother and child by organizing nurse-ins, letter writing campaigns, etc. These are only a few examples (MDC). As a lactivist, I have heard of oodles of unfortunate experiences of other nursing mothers, some of them even absurd! One outdoor theater did not allow any food or drinks, including breastfeeding, because "it attracts bees" (btw, I have nursed for a fair number of years now, and never once has a bee shown any interest in my breastmilk--my shampoo, however, maybe). With every aspect of the normality of breastfeeding in mind, I strive to educate, reinforce, and demonstrate with positive breastfeeding images, or accidental images, if you will. What I mean by accidental coincides with the idea that the act breastfeeding, of nourishing ones young, is normal. Human beings are mammals. Female mammals have the biological ability to produce species specific milk to nourish and sustain their young. As human mammals, women--mothers--are provided with the gift of breastfeeding. Of being able to produce the perfect substance to make their young grow strong, to sustain them for up to one year (and in some cases, even longer) on just breastmilk alone. Breastmilk produced by a mother contains hundreds of unreproducible and unmeasurable complex compounds which are tailored to each baby and his/her own specific needs at that exact moment. We cannot even begin to understand these compounds, let alone duplicate them in any supplement or commercial formula. We know breastmilk is the optimum infant food, that it stands far surperior to anything else we could feed our babies. This magnificant substance is magical. It is magical in so many ways. And at the same time, breastmilk is absolutely the opposite of magical. At some point, we must draw a line and stop thinking of breastmilk as something remarkable. Breastmilk is just normal, healthy babyfood, after all. In order to prove to the rest of the world that breastfeeding is normal, healthy, accepted, and not inappropriate or indecent, we must seek out positive breastfeeding images, unintended moments that show how normal and beautiful breastfeeding is. These can be found almost everywhere, from trashy tabloid magazines to childrens literature, from international pro-breastfeeding campaigns to the tears in your great-grandmother's eyes as she relays her fond memories of nursing her children to sleep in a rocking chair in front of the fire. Here are a few examples of positive and accidental/unintended breastfeeding images that I have compiled: -Hollywood: An article in a December 2008 or January 2009 tabloid about the "Best Breasts in Hollywood." The award was shared by two respected actresses, Salma Hayek and Jessica Alba. Though it was not mentioned in the article, both women were breastfeeding their children at the time of the publication, and both of these famous breastfeeding women are loud supporters of the importance of breastfeeding. (I am still in search of the article and the source.) -Children's literature: Teddy Rabbit by Kathy Stinson -- The last illustration in the book is of the mother sitting in the grass. With one side of her top down, she is nursing a baby, another child standing behind her. It is a positive image in that breastfeeding is not the focus of the story at all, rather a peaceful moment shared with family: Teddy Rabbit by Kathy Stinson -Artistic and photographic collections: Nursing is Normal is a photographic display of nursing moms in public settings, now in Madison, WI, through 2009: Nursing is Normal -Educational television for children: Mr. Rogers features animal babies and human babies drinking their mothers' milk. -International campaigns: La Teta! To give the breast is to give life! A absolutely delightful and beautiful public information broadcast from Puerto Rico. It is akin to a music video, featuring breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding (or, rather, normal breastfeeding). This is my favorite positive breastfeeding image I have come across yet. The joy depicted in this video needs no explanation.

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