I am an intactivist. I am pro-breastfeeding, public and private. I believe in a baby's rights to be given the best they can get, and to remain healthy, happy, and whole.
That being said, I'd like to present an open letter that ANYONE is free to use to send their message to Facebook that breastfeeding is not inappropriate. Feel free to edit as you please, add your name, your own comments, and your own research - all I ask is that if you share it on Facebook or your blog, please do so with a link back here, so as I get my blog back up and running, I can help get the word out on my passions as well.
Here you go!
To the Powers that Be of Facebook,
Every day thousands of people around the world make choices as to what they include on their personal Facebook pages. Mothers, fathers, minors, and the elderly alike post pictures of themselves and their families, sometimes including scenes of both women and men wearing clothing that would be considered inappropriate in public. These scenes sometimes lead to employers choosing to terminate employees who shared inappropriate photographs on Facebook. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Facebook is a very important, very influential social networking site, and that what is posted on an individual's profile can make or break the opinions of others.
We ask, then, in all seriousness, why Facebook does not seem to bat an eye at pictures of scantily-clad 16-year-olds wearing little more than they were born with, posing on beaches or in houses alike, but insists on immediately removing pictures - or deleting entire profiles - of individuals who include pictures of proud mothers nursing their babies.
Perhaps you aren't aware of the importance of breastfeeding. The WHO suggests that babies should be breastfed exclusively until six months of age, then continued with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age. Breastmilk is the single most natural first food for any baby, promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the nursing baby against infectious and chronic diseases and can even reduce infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses. It contributes to the mental and physical health and well-being of the nursing mother, can help space out children, and can even reduce the risks of some types of cancer in the mother.(1)
The influences of breastfeeding also go well beyond the first few years of a child's life. Breastfed children have been shown to have lower blood pressure than their formula-fed counterparts, lower cholesterol, and higher performance in intelligence tests. There are fewer cases of obesity and type-2 diabetes among breastfed children.(2) These are effects that last well into adulthood and positively influence a child's life, without question.
Why, then, are breasts outlawed? Those of us who go out into public on a semi-regular basis are guaranteed to see more flesh revealed on any given day than we would on a typical breastfeeding mother. On TV, women bare themselves to make headlines - in real life, a breastfeeding mom bares a breast when necessary to feed her child. To be perfectly honest, those of us who have breastfed children are sick and tired - no, insulted and hurt - that Facebook goes as far as not only comparing us to underdressed teenagers, but has the audacity to treat us with more scrutiny. Breasts ARE NOT OBSCENE. A society that has been taught to overreact to any amount of flesh will quickly jump to accuse breasts of being wild, crazy partiers who just want to pass out on your couch for the night. Trust us, though: All they want to do is feed babies.
It doesn't matter what you call them. Breasts, boobs, tatas, whatever - they serve a purpose, an important one at that, and the other few million breastfeeding mothers out there who are feeding their babies as we speak would agree. Facebook has an opportunity here to speak out and help share the physical, mental, and emotional values of breastfeeding by doing nothing more than allowing us the same right you give to all the teenagers out there who would happily post pictures of themselves in bikinis (and in doing so actually show off far more skin than a breastfeeding woman can at any one time)! All we ask is equality and support. So what will it be? Will Facebook step up and acknowledge the importance of breastfeeding, and grant mothers and supporters the opporunity to share with friends, family, and the world how proud they are to be providing their children with the best and most natural source of nutrition out there? Or will you sit back and censor breastfeeding while gals in the Bahamas share bikini shots from the beach?
It's your choice. All we ask is that you do the right thing.
(1): WHO article on breastfeeding (http://www.who.int/child_adolescent_health/topics/prevention_care/child/nutrition/breastfeeding/en/index.html)
(2): Excerpt from WHO article, "Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding" (http://www.who.int/child_adolescent_health/documents/9241595230/en/index.html)