One item I received was a brand name Hooter Hider. Not only did I refuse to use it...
I refuse to give it away.
1. The name
My problem with nursing covers starts with the name. Hooter Hider. Why would a woman, most likely a women has has previously worn a bathing suit or a cleavage bearing v neck tshirt, want to wear what amounts to a frumpy looking, patterned burlap sack with a strap to go around the neck? The same woman most likely also would wear a form fitting tshirt that shows her shape... including the shape of her breasts. Yet she feels the need to 'cover' herself with a shapeless flap of fabric while nourishing her baby. If we were really concerned with 'hiding our hooters', we would do so on a daily basis. This logic would point you to the fact that it's not our hooters that we are embarrassed to show, or need to hide.. It's the act of breastfeeding itself.
2. The breast itself...
I always get a kick out of breastfeedingphobes... so offended that a mother is breastfeeding her child in public at the mall, yet walks past this Victorias Secret photo plastered on the wall in a large 14x16 ft fashion. This person isn't concerned with seeing a breast, they are concerned with the act of breastfeeding. I've never met a mall security guard that would ask a woman with a cleavage bearing shirt to use a blanket to cover herself while shopping, yet they feel the need to harass a breastfeeding mother who is most likely showing LESS of her breast than half of the women in the building.
Let's explore this logic further. Facebook has been notorious for deleting breastfeeding photos. Here is a banned photo:
Oh the obscenity! Photo from here
And here is one that is allowed:
May you not be fooled.
It's not the breast itself we want to hide, it's the act of breastfeeding.
Something as simple as a photo on facebook takes us one step further into redefining normal. On the other hand, the image of a banned photo or a nursing cover can set us 10 steps back.
3. The example
When a woman sees you breastfeeding your child with a cover, it reinforces her bias towards breastfeeding whether or not she realizes it. Maybe she does realize it. When she looks at you and thinks, 'Should I cover up? Do I have to cover up also?' you have now successfully planted the seed of doubt in her mind. Whether or not you know it, you have reinforced the idea that breastfeeding is obscene, embarrassing and should be hidden.
Not only does this apply to all women of childbearing age, it also applies to little girls. Children hear example much louder than we do. A child sees a nursing cover and relates it to everything she has learned in her short life. She knows that you cover something that you are not allowed to show... something obscene. So in her mind, a nursing cover means that nursing is obscene or embarrassing. It's a large message that comes out of a small image.
You can be modest and breastfeed.... WITHOUT a cover! Since a picture says 1,000 words, look and see for yourself...
This is me, modestly breastfeeding my 3 month old daughter.
In fact, when I'm in public, I often get approached because most people just think I'm holding her. When they realize I'm breastfeeding, they're usually embarrassed... despite all of the 'it's okay's from me. :)
My tshirt, combined with my baby's head, cover all skin that could possibly show. This is not totally by choice... breastfeeding just isn't usually something that requires showing skin. But when I see a proud mama whip out her boob, I wanna holler REPRESENT! I love her for that. I even made some 'Thank You for Nursing in Public' cards to hand out to all of the lovely ladies I see feeding their little nurslings.
While I am so, so, so completely happy that a mom who uses a cover is nursing her baby instead of choosing formula, I have to think that her choice to cover is still detrimental to the fact that breastfeeding is normal, breastfeeding is natural and breastfeeding is OKAY!
So, I will not be giving away my hooter hider and I will go further to ask all breastfeeding mommies to ditch yours and set the example. Teach your little girls that they can breastfeed wherever they choose and it is the normal thing to do.. not the other way around. Teach your little boys that breasts are for feeding babies and to fight for the mothers of their children to breastfeed because it's the normal thing to do.
Change starts now, with you.