I really should have thicker skin if I’m going to do stuff like this. I was at the park with my friend and her daughter, and as we were piling into the car to go home, I got a text from another friend asking “Are you going to Target today?”
“Hell no,” I said, imagining post-Christmas crowds of bargain shoppers.
She replied with a link to an article about a mom in Texas who was harassed for breastfeeding in a Target there. Nurse-ins were happening at Targets around the country, it said, with photos posted to a Facebook page.
“Change of plans!” I announced, and we pointed the car toward the nearest Target, and squeezed off the shot you see here. I thought mine would be among a bunch of other pics, and quickly forgotten, like when we protested Facebook’s blocking of breastfeeding photos a couple of years ago.
But it's sticking around, and people are continuing to comment. This could get interesting.
The ride to Target was really fun. The girls in back were asking “Where are we going?” so my friend and I told the story: “A mommy was giving her baby num-num in a store, and they told her ‘You can’t do that!’ and she said ‘Yes I can!’ But they didn’t listen, so she went home and told her friends, and now we’re all going to take pictures of us giving babies num-num to send the store so they won’t do that ever again.”
“Tell the story of the mommy and the num-num again!” they cheered from the back seat, and we felt like latter-day freedom riders, only we faced much less peril. (I mean, duh.)
At the store, we ran in, boggled at the bargains (they really were quite amazing), and took the pictures you see here. This is in Colma, California, about 10 minutes south of San Francisco. It’s a town known, essentially, for its malls and its cemeteries; that’s basically all you’ll find there. This Target, plus the Carter’s outlet and the Michaels that share the same parking lot, has seen me breastfeed more times than I’d like to count, and everyone there has always been helpful and kind, so I felt sure they wouldn’t mind my using them to encourage their corporate office to be more explicit about the company’s policies. Indeed, they didn’t even blink (or, really, notice) when I took this playful pic.
We were back in the car within 10 minutes, and I was home and cooking dinner before you could say “Hey, they sell nursing bras here, too!”
I uploaded to the group site, to my home page, and to Target Baby (it's still there -- the page is just really busy). That’s when things started to get loud. The fact is, Target has – to its credit – been running around trying to undo the horrible publicity that a few stupid, thoughtless, and frankly bigoted Texans has brought them, and I acknowledged that in the comments under my photo. Nonetheless, dozens of women have posted that even though they support breastfeeding, they find my photo to be EXTREME! And OBNOXIOUS! And PART OF THE PROBLEM!
One woman actually said this photo made her throw up a little in her mouth. Never mind that that's the most overused movie quote in history. I just -- really? What is so throw-uppy about this? I seriously worry for the sanity of someone who feels the need to hurl because I'm being silly with the side of my boob and my 16-month-old daughter.
I’ve stopped reading the comments unless I recognize the commenter’s name – my friend Deirdre, an LC and midwife in Nyack, New York, who has given me immeasurable support with my weird questions over the years, cracked me up when she called breastfeeding covers “boob burkas.” I had to also point out that, well, I often don’t expect to see a butt-crack sticking up out of low-rise jeans, but when that happens, I don’t act offended and tell the person to cover up. I bite my tongue and go about my day, because it doesn’t really make a difference, and I don’t have the right to object.
I’m leaving the picture up, and I’m not really bothered by the mild objections. But I am surprised that something so obvious and playful would create such a scornful reaction.
What do you think? Isn’t it obvious I’m being playful and silly in support of someone far away, or do you think I deserve the verbal spanking?