As much as some people are squeamish about women breastfeeding in public, there are many cultures today and in the past that don't bat an eye at it. In a group I'm in with women across the world, we discussed how public breastfeeding is viewed in our area. One woman responded, "In Norway, breastfeeding in public is usually no big problem."
Another said, "In rural South Africa, breastfeeding in public is about as scandalous as eating a sandwich."
Celebrating that normalcy is exactly what Czech-born, Canadian sculptor Lea Vivot did with her amazing life-size statue, "The Endless Bench." And I got the chance to talk to her about what it meant to her.
Many of her statues include benches, which has become a trademark for her. On this particular statue, the bench is a complete circle, endless, an expression of love and procreation. Carved on the bench is 365 different messages of love, inspiration, and hope from parents worldwide.
The bench shows two women, one pregnant, and the other nursing her baby while they are engaged in conversation. At their feet, in the middle of the circle, two children play in the sand.
She donated to statue to Toronto's Sick Children's Hospital after her own son, Morris, who had been treated there, passed away.
Vivot nursed all three of her boys, and celebrates the natural state of it, as well as the bond she shared with her children while nursing. As with all her statues (many featuring children at play), she sought to celebrate beautiful things in her life, and hopes people will sit there on the bench, nurse their own babies "receiving the gift of life by giving life" and be inspired by the messages carved into the surface of the bench.
I think it's a gorgeous statue, and a gorgeous sentiment. I can't help but think there's probably some people walking by who want to toss a blanket over it, though. Sigh! Vivot is no stranger to being attacked by media either, and says likely the only ones offended are formula companies, who would seek to lose profit if things like this were more accepted.
Love the statue, love the woman who created it! It should be everywhere, helping to empower women and not feel like they have to hid to nurse their children. And also to make those who think it's obscene to think again.
What do you think of the statue?
Images via LeaVivot