Breastfeeding Military Moms Cause Americans to Freak Out (Again)

A photo of two young moms breastfeeding their kids while in uniform has gone viral. Why? I have absolutely no idea.

Here we go again. The latest chapter in the Breastfeeding Saga of 2012 comes out of Spokane, Washington, where two young moms in the Air National Guard posed for a photograph in which they were shown breastfeeding their kids. Over the past week, the photo has gone viral, showing up on mommy blog after mommy blog and on national news sites like USA Today and the Washington Post.

This latest episode comes on the heels of that shock-and-awe TIME magazine breastfeeding cover last month, which had people up in arms for a multitude of reasons, and the Us Weekly item in March about Beyonce Knowles breastfeeding her newborn at a New York City restaurant. The common thread? That America freaks out any time boobs and breast milk make headlines, with many feeling obligated to weigh in with their thoughts, feelings and opinions on the matter. Begging the question … why?

The official military position is that the photo is an improper use of U.S. military uniforms. The women, Terran Echegoyen-McCabe and Christina Luna, posed for the picture as part of a photography series for a breastfeeding support group called Moms2Moms. Thing is, service members are not allowed to be pictured in uniform supporting a civilian cause. So the real issue is not that they breastfed in public or in uniform, but that they were photographed doing exactly that as part of a civilian initiative.

Still, the general public has taken the opportunity to argue over the non-issues (of course), with some comparing in-uniform public breastfeeding to urinating and defecating in public. Um … what?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to ask what I hope you’re all thinking: Who cares? I honestly cannot wrap my mind around the fact that people have so many (loud!) opinions when it comes to breastfeeding, and when and where and how it should be done. When did we start parenting by democracy? What happened to moms deciding what’s best and appropriate for themselves and their own children—without input from the peanut gallery?

I brunched with a couple of young moms yesterday. One of the topics that came up was how often people stop them in public places to offer “advice” on something regarding their child. One said a woman stopped her at the grocery store recently when she saw her baby wasn’t wearing any socks. “Don’t you think her feet are cold?” the woman asked, knowingly.

“Probably,” my friend replied as she walked off in the other direction.

Sure, some situations require stepping in and speaking up, like if you see a mother beating up her child on the SEPTA train. But a missing sock in a grocery store? Or a mother nursing her kid in whatever clothes she happens to be wearing at the time? Please. People, find something else to talk about.