Saturday, 17 December 2011

Breastfeed - but no nipples!

Recently I was asked to take part in a photo-shoot for a breastfeeding calendar.  It wasn't being organised by me, but by a really vibrant and eclectic group of women from another town.  I was delighted to be asked to take part, and it was a fun day.  The calendar was to consist of a mixture of cute baby pictures, lovely skin to skin shots, mums playing with their babies, snippets of breastfeeding information and details about the local peer support service, as well as some breastfeeding pictures.  The concept, organisation, and execution came entirely from the mums themselves.

The local council gave their support to the project, and the government agency tasked with dealing with public health issues here suggested they would like to come on board and even offered to give some financial support.  That was - until they saw the pictures - some of which showed ACTUAL breasts, breastfeeding.  

Now in fairness, I wasn't privy to all the interactions, but one thing seems plain to me.  The government body who is supposed to be helping to promote breastfeeding and healthy living within our community won't give it's backing to visible breastfeeding.  
They apparently described the images as 'too graphic'.  
It seems they want to promote breastfeeding, but only if you do it discreetly.  They decided to pull their support for the project and this necessitated the removal of the information about the local peer supporters.

Amongst the calendar pictures there are 1 (maybe 2 if you squint) visible nipples.  Nipples being used for their intended purpose - feeding babies.  Shocking, I'm sure you'll agree, and something Northern Ireland just isn't ready for - apparently.

And yet - as @goodythegood pointed out to me on Twitter - Northern Ireland IS ready for this:

As much as I applaud the DOE for their uncompromising approach towards tackling the chaos on our roads,  HOW ON EARTH is it possible for our society to be OK with these  graphic ads but NOT OK with the sight of a baby feeding at the breast?

The infant feeding Survey 2010 showed that only 64% of mothers ever put their newborn to their breast.  That's an increase of only 1% on the 2005 survey.  Dreadfully low breastfeeding initiation rates and hardly any sign of improvement over the last 5 years.  

On the other hand, the deliberately shocking and provocative series of road traffic adverts  from the DOE have helped to reduce road deaths here to their lowest level since 1931.

I'm not trying to suggest we all get out there and bare our chests publicly in an effort to force everyone to watch us feeding our babies so that we we can normalise infant feeding here - but it was a BREASTFEEDING CALENDAR for God's sake!  

If YOU don't mind seeing a nipple being used for feeding a baby, and would like to support the calendar, then click here.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and all good things for 2012

1 comment:

  1. It makes me mad - when will people realise that the only way to stop society viewing breats purely as 'sex toys' is to allow images that, funnily enough, don't view breasts as 'sex toys'!


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