Breasts have been prominent in the media recently. Not just the usual Page 3 diet, although there is a current campaign to have them put away – see link below. The last week has also seen a very successful marketing effort on behalf of Breast Cancer Awareness with the ‘Breast Cancer Selfie’ trending on Social Media, encouraging a proliferation of make-up free photographs, nominations and screenshots of donations, about which I am reserving comment until my next post.
The daily Page 3 Breast Fest, to me, reflects one side of what I see as a modern distortion of our sexuality, a theme which tends to crop up in some form in my fiction. The other side is the reaction of a Facebook user who took it up on himself to photograph (without permission) a young mother breastfeeding her baby in public, post it on Facebook and label her a ‘tramp’! (Using Facebook as a vehicle for this is another issue.) In a culture where glamour models seem to be viewed increasingly as celebrities and female role-models, it is at least heartening to see that the ‘Spotter of Rugely’ got his come-uppance with a huge public outcry of protest and media ridicule for his actions. My hope is that the exposure will have done for breast-feeding awareness what naked faces have done for breast cancer.
Another example of eyebrow-raising skewed standards in the Breast is Best area is the experience of the Texas ‘Victoria’s Secret’ shopper earlier this year, who after spending $150 dollars on their fripperies, was refused the comfort of a fitting-room to feed her hungry child, being advised to do so in a nearby alley where she could do so unseen. Again, this may not have been in line with the company policy, but it is their responsibility to make it clear to their staff what that is, because this incident was not a beautiful one for womankind.
My sons are now in their teens; when they were babies I fed them in many places as the occasion demanded, equipped with a soft cotton lace shawl for discretion. Sadly, these places did include public toilets. When my first-born was a few months old, we were fortunate to stay with friends in Buenos Aires and it is during that holiday I felt most comfortable breast-feeding, as it felt ‘smiled-upon’ and accepted as normal. I fed my baby whilst walking on a jungle path in Iguacu, Brazil and on a bus in Buenos Aires. Perhaps that is why the Argentinian Pope Francis has such a positive, paternal, encouraging approach to the mothers in his congregation, insisting that they are welcome to feed their babies in the Sistine Chapel. After all, Michaelangelo’s works included depictions of the ‘Madonna Lactans’ as a symbol of spiritual as well as physical nourishment. Breast-feeding is natural, part of our whole sexuality and more than a feeding function, isn’t it?