Mom Gets Kicked Out of Military Base Shop for Breastfeeding in Public

As parents, we multitask just like everyone else except we have children often hanging on us while we do it. Literally. Enter the baby carrier, aka another set of arms to help you carry your kid. Now imagine if you are with your 4-month-old baby in the carrier and your 2-year-old doing some grocery shopping when you are suddenly approached by the manager who asks you to stop what you are doing or leave. I bet you can guess what this mother was doing. She was breastfeeding. Apparently the manager of the Schofield Barracks commissary in Hawaii respects the fact that Tamara Algots' husband is an information technology specialist with the 25th Infantry Division, but she cannot respect that a baby needs to eat. She perhaps felt pressure from a complaining costumer who couldn't handle knowing that a woman's breasts aren't sexual when it comes to breastfeeding.

This is why there are so many stories of moms asked to stop breastfeeding in public when it is within our rights to do so.

The Algots live on base and has been in that grocery store countless times -- she's even nursed her newborn there on other occasions. Algots told the Army Times that a female employee of the commissary told her that she "can't do that here" and what Tamara assumed "that" was was shop, so she reached for her military dependent ID to show that she could. The employee then told her that another shopper complained and she would have to stop or leave. Algots said:

I couldn’t believe it. I’ve nursed him in public hundreds of times — including at the commissary — and I’ve never, ever had anyone approach me about it.

Last year there the world freaked out over two moms photographed breastfeeding their babies while in their military uniforms. I suppose some saw this as a disgrace. I saw it as beautiful and fantastic that the women who serve our country are also making sure they give their babies the best. Taking time for family and country. That is admirable.

But Algots was just shopping with her kids, and her newborn preemie was hungry. Tamara's breast wasn't fully exposed. She had baby in an Ergo and was holding baby to her chest to nurse. She checked with the base and learned it was her right to breastfeed in public. But much of the public had their own thoughts on what she should do. Some felt she should have just went to the commissary's nursing room, but Tamara said it's a stuffy, windowless room and it would be difficult to occupy her toddler when nursing her infant in there. Why couldn't she cover up, others wonder. Babies shouldn't have to be forced to eat while under a blanket. A mother's nipples aren't showing while breastfeeding. People need to respect mothers who are breastfeeding. It's that simple. This is discrimination.

But the worst comment came from a woman, Jessica Shelton, on the Garrison barrack's Town Hall Facebook page. Shelton wrote:

I do not believe women should walk around a commissary filled with young men fresh out of basic training and living in the barracks, young boys who are just hitting puberty, etc., nursing her child without a cover.

It's hard for me to believe we are in the year 2013 and this is what people are thinking. But it is. We live in a culture that condemns women when we are doing something "bad" and also when we are doing something good. Far too often we are not respected, not even by fellow women. Breastfeeding isn't a flaunting of breasts. And boys/men shouldn't be walking around not able to handle the sight of a woman breastfeeding. Algots also revealed that someone emailed her saying they would smash their car into hers if they saw her at the commissary.

All of this because she was breastfeeding her baby. It's sad. The fear that people have over seeing a little bit of breast when a baby is nursing is unbelievable. You see more skin watching any celebrity red carpet event. You see more skin on the covers of the tabloids sold at the grocery store checkout. And those are images of women trying to be sexy. A mother breastfeeding her child is just a mother feeding her baby. There is a difference.

Do you think a mother should have the right to breastfeeding in public without anyone telling her to stop? What do you think of this story? Have you ever been told to stop nursing your baby or leave?


Image via Newtown grafitti/Flickr

breastfeeding, natural parenting


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Zenia6 Zenia6

"the woman is still exposed in a place where food is sold and stored violating food sanitation regs"


you are kidding right?

nonmember avatar jessica

well its too much of a generalized statement to say "that the military doesnt like nursing mothers." as i was both. I nursed both of my children for their first year. my entire chain of command was VERY supportive. and even allowed me at times to leave work just to go breast feed my child. this is about one person disliking the idea of NIP, of whom was associated to the commissary.. which BTW is not military.. it is a federal building not military.
When its stated that "And boys/men shouldn't be walking around not able to handle the sight of a woman breastfeeding".. keyword here is SHOULDN'T. Men are men.. no offense to men in general, sex is part of nature. covering up is not that difficult. Although i do understand the difficulty associated in having to occupy one child while feeding the other, i still had a sense of modesty. DOnt get me wrong I think its ridiculous that some one would kick out a selfless mother because shes feeding her child, its natures bottle. But to say that its military in general is wayyy to generalized as is the idea that the commissary is military is incorrect.

Dani Friedhoff

As people we are better than this. I mean come on. Yes you don't want to see a partially bared breast (And PS its NOT a naked breast if you can't see the nipple!!) BUT you turn around and stare at the magazines that show more boobie than a nursing mom is! I'm sure this isn't the same in every comissary, because my mom nursed each of us where ever and whenever we were hungry. It was the dork heads that ripped the blanket off that got offended at a nursing baby. We did okay under blankets even if it was So Cal. We see more of this crap every day with television and other media outlets (Facebook naughty!) So why the hell do people get all worked up over less boob that has a baby attached?

nonmember avatar mona

I lived in Hawaii for many years and visited this commissary many times. Usually everyone is so nice and laid back. With that being said that if this women probably did not comply they would have notified her husband's command and he would have been disciplined for it. The wisest course in this situation would be to leave and file a formal complaint. Let the base commander know that the manager should not have asked you to leave regardless of complaints.

Jdub372 Jdub372

You know, boobs just are not a big deal. It really doesn't matter to me if a woman is wearing a bikini top or nursing her baby, no one needs to be offended at someon's anatomy. My nephew, who is now 11, stays with us a lot. When he was 9 my daughter was about 4 months old. I'll make a long story short, he was playing video games in the living room and I sat down guessed it...nurse my baby! Well, he saw my boob! Ack! He said sorry since it was an accident, I told him don't worry about it, it is not a big deal. I said this because it is not a big deal! I would have said the same thing to anyone! It is just a boob! Wow, rant.

Tess Kinker

You know... The military is supposed to be "pro-breastfeeding." Had a similar experience with a NMRS thrift shop on the east coast. I was wearing a nursing shirt, and (for extra measure) I was covered with a blanket... and they STILL made a scene. I just ignored them, and continued to tend to the needs of my child. That's right... you (even as a military spouce, by even MILITARY LAW)can breastfeed your child while shopping. When I was asked to leave, I just ignored them, and kept shopping. The person tailed me for a few minutes, and then walked away. Most of the time, if you ignore them, they will leave you alone.

nonmember avatar Laur

I am a mom and I breast feed my son I have been asked to leave many stores by managers dispute informing them of my rights I have even had the cops called on me I pray that people get there heads put of there assess about some things

nonmember avatar Mommadukes

I nursed 4 out of 5 of my children. It is the most natural healthy way to provide nutrition for your child. It is also supposed to be a time of bonding and should be done in a relaxed comfortable environment, because that is when nursing gives a child it's greatest benefits. I understand that life has become this hectic rat race but seriously nursing in the midst of grocery shopping is like going to a fast food restaurant instead of eating a nice home cooked meal. At four months of age I am sure that baby is on a schedule of sorts, although many people do on demand breast feeding, why shop during the babies feeding time. I never chose to nurse any of my children out in the open without fully covering myself. Why are the rights of this woman to be comfortable more important than the rights of the other shoppers to be comfortable. Yes you have every right to nurse where you want but why would you want to do it where you are making others uncomfortable.

nonmember avatar Dee

We see ads, magazine covers, book covers, etc. that are covered with half-naked women and men without their shirts on. Even on post, there are times we will see someone dressed in something that makes you gag a little in the back of your throat but we deal with it. People have the right to dress or do as they please, even if you want to complain.

Young men just out of basic can't handle seeing a woman's breast? I'm sure they've seen more breasts and in a much more sexual manner on their outings on the weekends prior to that instant. A grown man can handle himself and doesn't need a stranger telling them what they can or cannot deal with.

Yes, she could have gone to the feeding room to feed her child. Just like a mother could take her child out of the store when he's running around like a hellion or screaming cause he didn't get what he wanted. Or maybe the couple fighting could take their drama outside or not even go to the store. Or maybe that elderly person could take their complaints to the manager's office, instead of taking it up to the check out clerk when there's twenty people in the line behind him/her.

And if your child asks about what that mother is doing, how about telling them the truth? That she's feeding her child? Something is only bad or becomes a curiosity to a child, when their questions are left unanswered.

Robert McDonald

Can a woman walk around the commissary with nothing but nipple tassels on? I mean, hey, the nipples aren't showing right.

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