THMers recently had a lively debate over a poster aimed at promoting breastfeeding, featuring a mum breastfeeding her toddler in a park. As you'd expect in a debate, some were for, and others against. I concluded that I have no problem with breastfeeding toddlers, but somehow I found the poster confronting - as if it was asking me to make a political statement with my body, when all I ever wanted as a breastfeeding mum was to be able to feed comfortably wherever I needed to.
What, then, to make of this poster? You'll excuse the quality of image - it features a little girl pretending to breastfeed her doll. The handmade poster carries the caption, `It's Normal - children copy their mothers, teenagers do it! Celebrities do it!'.
Locals of Manchester, where the poster originates from, seem to find it terribly offensive. Said one woman, "The picture is shocking and it isn't normal. Children copy their parents but I don't think any little girls should be breastfeeding their dolls." (I had to chuckle at this - this disapproving woman is a 39-year-old grandmother according to the article, and there are plenty of busy-bodies around who would tut-tut at that.)
I actually don't find this confronting in the same way as the previous poster - and I don't think it's any sort of 'shock tactic'. In fact, I think it's cute. My daughter imitated me when I breastfed her baby brother, and I'm sure little kids all around the world do the same. And why would we find this offensive? Is there some sort of 'little girls + pretend breasts = sexualisation' type of equation going on in the minds of Manchester residents?
For me, growing up around a breastfeeding mother and aunt was important to my own decision to breastfeed. In fact, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't - I didn't lack confidence in the way that a woman with no experience of breastfeeding might do.
Is this poster offensive? Personally, I don't think so. But is it an effective pro-breastfeeding campaign? That's a whole different argument...