Breastfeeders Are Mean Girls

Annie Krasnow

I am about one week away from having my baby, and one of things I'm already preparing myself for is the breastfeeding bullies I will face after I give birth. I will first face one kind of bully in the hospital, and then as I move on to the park, I will face a whole different breed. I'm not planning to breastfeed my baby. I didn't breastfeed with my first child, so this is familiar territory.

As with many elements of motherhood, the issue of whether or not to breastfeed gets people really heated. While I love a healthy debate, I do think the bitter tone of women towards women on this subject is upsetting. Many feel that it's their right to tell other women what choice they should make, although they aren't walking in their shoes. And, they typically convey their opinions in either a condescending or hostile fashion. They band in a clique and harass those whose disagree.

I wrote a post a few months ago about how I'm excited to not breastfeed. I was so happy with the decision I made to NOT breastfeed my first child, I'm looking forward to making the same one again. People accused me of being uneducated. They called me selfish. They told me I should be ashamed. As I read the comments I wondered why the tone of this debate is so hostile. As women, shouldn't we respect each other's right to do what we want with our bodies and our children? Shouldn't we be over the whole mean girl thing already?

There are similar reactions from women who tell me that it's disgusting that I plan to induce early. I understand that they don't want to make that decision for them. I just don't get why they think they can make that decision for me. Tell me your opinion. I love it. Just don't tell me I'm a terrible mother. It's really an absurd reaction.

I figure many of these bullies feel they are standing up for my child. I just think it's ironic that these same women aren't freaking out about women who feed their children fast food. They should be screaming at women who feed their heavy kids chicken nuggets. But they don't. It would be uncouth.

Imagine if you were in a restaurant and someone walked up to you and said, "You shouldn't be giving your child a hamburger and fries. It's bad for them. You are a selfish mother to feed it to them." It would be completely acceptable to tell that person to mind their own business. And people would applaud you for telling them. What if people cursed out mothers who let their kids play video games or drink juice or give their kids time-outs? Many people disagree with these parenting methods, but the debates don't seem to be as furious. But, when it comes to breastfeeding, it's always hunting season.

I don't get where the permission comes from to treat other women this way when it comes to this subject. Why do women think it's okay to insult and bully women about their breastfeeding choice? Why does this carry more weight than other personal parenting decisions -- all which may or may not have long-term effects on the child?  

Why are women so mean about it?

Photo via Evil Erin/Flickr

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