These breastfeeding mannequins are breaking stigmas about nursing mums
Ever felt embarrassed while breastfeeding in public? These breastfeeding mannequins show us that mums have nothing to be ashamed of.
It’s 2017, but mums who breastfeed their babies in public still face bizarre amounts of stigma. A mum who wants to do something as normal as nourishing their baby must brace herself for everything from disgusted looks to sexual comments.
Now, however, a mall in Colombia is smashing this outdated stigma. Shoppers strolling through Bogotá’s Centro Mayor, Colombia’s largest shopping mall, can now see breastfeeding mannequins in the store windows.
With their elegant blouses half-open for their babies to nurse, the mannequins not only model gorgeous mumwear but a progressive attitude towards breastfeeding. Each mannequin consists of a mum figure with a baby at her breast, mimicking nursing.
An accompanying sign explains that the shopping center supports being a safe space for mums to nurse without fear.
The breastfeeding mannequins are part of a campaign launched by Amigos de la Lactancia (Friends of Breastfeeding), reports HuffPost. Amigos de la Lactancia is an organization supporting mums who have been shamed for public breastfeeding. Making malls a safe space for nursing mums is one of their key goals.
This campaign is definitely a much-needed one — just last year, an Argentine mum was taken away by police for nursing in a public square. This outrage prompted hundreds of Argentine mums to gather for a mass “breastfeed-in” in protest.
With backward attitudes toward breastfeeding still pervasive, let’s hope that this bold campaign will help to raise some much-needed awareness for mums and bubs.
All we can say is, it’s about time! Breastfeeding — a completely natural activity that mums have been doing since humanity began — still carries an incredible stigma all around the world.
As mums simply trying to feed our babies, we are told to cover up, that “no one wants to see that” — at the same time that, paradoxically, female breasts are sexualized and ogled at.
It’s time to change the way society sees breastfeeding. That’s why this campaign by Friends of Breastfeeding is so beautifully subversive — it forces us to look in a completely different way.
The thing about mannequins is that they typically embody body ideals for women. We ladies stare at them in admiration, as idealized and often impossible images to live up to.
These breastfeeding mannequins couldn’t be further from such ideals. Candidly posed and absorbed in their little one, they depict the reality of women’s lives. The clothes they model aren’t merely glamorous but practical for mums — they empower us with the reminder that mumhood doesn’t mean losing our dignity and style.
What’s more, just as mums who breastfeed must face gawking, these mannequins are bound to attract stares. The campaign plays the admiring gazes attracted by conventional mannequins and the damaging ideals they embody against the nasty stares that breastfeeding mums get.
This encourages us to question just why these two ways of seeing women’s bodies are so different. And of course, it opens up possibilities for how we can shake up the old ways of looking at real breastfeeding mums.
Mums, you’d probably agree if we say that even in Singapore, we still have a long way to go. We’ve seen public breastfeeding enter the spotlight a few times in past years — along with some truly ugly local attitudes towards women’s bodies.
Just earlier this year, Cheryl Lee, a mum of 3, was covertly photographed breastfeeding her baby on the MRT. Her picture was then circulated on a popular Singapore online portal, along with a distastefully sexualized caption.
Mum Yuki Tan also shared with us her traumatic experience while breastfeeding in a shopping mall. She was spotted and chased out of the mall, by a security guard no less — the very people we count on to protect us and our children.
Though mum-friendly organisations like Breast Feeding Friends (BFF) and AWARE are attempting to fight public stigma, these mums’ shocking real-life experiences show that so much more has to be done. Perhaps our shopping malls could do with our very own breastfeeding mannequins, so as to make malls more inclusive spaces for mums and bubs.
Nursing mums, what do you think? Let us know in the comments below.