Saturday, August 24, 2013


Recently, Instagram removed the account of the beautiful Daughter of the Sun, for apparently having inappropriate images (read: pictures of her breastfeeding and of her beautiful daughter playing in her natural sate.)

I breastfed Tai until he was two and a half. At first, I was shy about feeding my baby in public and tried to cover up, so as not to offend anyone. I quickly learned that Tai hated being under a shawl or blanket when he was eating-- he preferred to look up at me and touch my face, or look around at his surroundings-- and who would blame him??So I ditched the nursing covers and steadied myself for any criticism that might come my way. No one ever said anything rude to me or asked me to cover up, thankfully. They did, however, get very uncomfortable. As soon as I would get Tai in a position to nurse, all eyes turned the other way. Conversations stopped abrubtly. People literally turned their backs to me. I felt invisible.

At first, I welcomed this "invisibility." I understood why people turned away-- I'd done the same thing when friends breastfed in front of me--in part to "protect" their privacy, but mostly because I was unaccustomed to seeing bare breasts and it made me uncomfortable.

breastfeeding nursing in public extended breastfeeding
When Tai was six months old, we traveled to Peru, and from the moment we stepped on the plane in Miami, I felt an enormous shift in how I was treated while breastfeeding. After an hour of waiting on the tarmac, Tai was beginning to get fussy and tired, so I put him to my breast. To my surprise, one of the Peruvian flight attendants walked past and began stroking Tai's hair and playing with his little hand. Loving the attention, Tai smiled up at her, leaving my breast completely exposed. My first reaction was to pull my tshirt down and stop feeding. No one had ever interacted with Tai while he was nursing, and it caught me by surprise.  But I realized that this woman, probably a mother herself, was not at all uncomfortable watching me breastfeed. I took a deep breath, Tai latched back on, and exchanging a few friendly words, the flight attendant continued on her way.

That interaction set the tone for the rest of the trip. I gained the confidence to nurse Tai freely wherever and whenever, and I was never given the "invisible" treatment I was so used to at home. Men, women, even teenage boys, would talk to me and Tai while he fed. They would gently ruffle his hair or tickle his toes while he was at my breast, and would maintain eye contact with the both of us. No one cut conversations short when I lifted my shirt to feed, nor did they turn their back to us. Breastfeeding was treated the same as bottle feeding-- I didn't feel shamed or embarrassed that I was somehow offending people with my bare breast.

breasfeeding nursing in public
Nursing Tai on the beach in Peru
Back at home, I still received the invisible treatment while breastfeeding Tai in public and it became even more pronounced the older he got. Being in Peru, however, had given me the confidence to nurse without shame. It had reminded me that my breasts weren't really the issue at all-- our culture's hyper-sexualization of the female body was the problem, and the reason that people felt so uncomfortable around me breastfeeding.

It's frustrating and depressing to me that anyone would flag one of Daughter of the Sun's pictures as being inappropriate-- she has one of the most natural, beautiful, inspiring feeds I've ever seen. And yet, I'm not surprised. We must come together as mothers and women and stand up for our right to feed our babies as we wish-- to let them play free and naked in nature without being labeled as "inappropriate" or "offensive."

Thank you Daughter of the Sun for your inspiration and beauty!! I know you will continue to awe and inspire us from another platform. It's Instagram's loss....

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