4.9
July 20, 2015

Extended Breastfeeding is My Choice.

Self portrait Jade Beall

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One of my favorite photographers, Jade Beall, posted this self-portrait of herself breast feeding her three-and-a-half-year-old son on her Facebook page last week.

Her caption reads:

Self-portrait taken today with my son. There are many ways breastfeeding begs to be normalized. For me right now, it’s normalizing full-term/child led weaning/extended breastfeeding with my 3.5 year old. I admit that I never breastfeed my son in public anymore. I feel like somehow I would be committing a criminal act when all I am doing is providing comfort and nourishment for my son. I see that with my discomfort in breastfeeding my son in public these days that there is a whole new way for me to promote and support feminism.

I still have milk, he still wants his “nah nahs” as he calls it and nothing, absolutely nothing soothes him better… I have tried to wean him multiple times and I have at last surrendered to the flow of my relationship with my son.

If this offends you, ask me a question rather than call me names. Let’s learn from one another. Let’s be fee from fear of our differences and let’s be filled with curiosity and compassion!

I am not a mother, nor do I have many friends who are mothers yet.

I think many women have let go of the societal shoulds of “pop-a-baby-out-by-twenty-five or-you’re-a-degenerate.”

I have never been a part of this conversation on extended breastfeeding.

I looked at this image when it popped up on my newsfeed and saw a strong woman, standing proudly in her choice—I didn’t question or mock or raise an eyebrow.

I shared it on both my Facebook pages and applauded her for her bravery.

The jackassery that followed on Jade’s initial post and with my readers blew me away.

Here are some of the comments:

“I just gagged in my mouth a little. It’s recommended up to six months to breastfeed. Its not a matter of nutrition either. If a child can feed themselves or a mother spoon feed, they can get the proper nutrition in a regular diet. The “supplement” argument is bs. Don’t forget to milk your child before they walk to get their diploma. God forbid that pass out on the way because they are nutritionally depleted.”

“A child that is 3-and-a-half years old, no longer needs to be breast feed! I am all for breast feeding and in public, but come on…..Who is this mother doing this for, at this point, her or her child?!”

“I have no problem with a mother feeding her infant in public, but this is quite sick. He is no longer a baby. He’s going to have psychological problems later on.”

“After two, there’s no nutritional value in breastfeeding and it most certainly created dependency. I eye roll because moms who do this so badly want acceptance for an emotionally stunting behavior. I’m as liberal as they get but when you are proud about something that negatively can impact a child long-term, you’re out of your mind. I will also freely add that breastfeeding past a medically necessary point is actually more selfish and more about the mother than the child. It means the mother needs psychological help and has problems letting go. Get help and stop collecting other mothers with a similar mental problem to give you support to continue the illness.”

“Except your son no longer needs breastfeeding. He can get his own nutrition by eating. I support a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, but honestly, I think there’s a twisted psychological need being filled here—and it doesn’t belong to your child.”

Other women and mothers weren’t the only ones to get their nipples in a fuss over Jade’s post—Facebook has banned Jade close to a dozen times now for sharing her images of mothers breastfeeding, even though Facebook’s nudity policy gives a thumbs up to images of breastfeeding nipples.

Jade 2

Jade’s main personal account is currently suspended for thirty days because of the above image.

Boo, Facebook.

I can’t help but also wonder what the world’s deal is with breasts?

They’re just boobs, people—heaven forbid we use them for what they’re made for.

When my mom raised me as a single parent in Whitehorse, she got a job at a local grocery store. The women who owned the grocery store allowed me to come to work with my mom.

She would sometimes bag groceries while she breastfed me.

She didn’t use a blanket or cover me.

In the time she worked there, all they received was a letter of support from a customer for the owner being progressive enough to hire and support a single mom.

That was 26 years ago.

Are we walking backwards?

We all have our own rights and our own beliefs that are for no one else but us.

None of them are superior or inferior.

We do not create beliefs to please the world; we create beliefs to align with our truths.

I am all for individuals exercising their ability to be free thinkers and stand up to speak their truths.

I am not for individuals standing up and projecting their truths onto others and shaming them for choices that are different than their own.

That’s not applaudable. That’s not admirable.

I asked Jade if Facebook and other people’s trolling would discourage her from sharing her art in the future. Here’s her reply:

“Facebook and our cultures mainstream view of my images featuring breastfeeding will never slow me down. No way. I do get deflated and have a feeling like I have done something wrong every time I am banned, but there is truly nothing more beautiful to me than breastfeeding imagery right now, as a woman who has been breastfeeding over the last 3.5 years.”

 

Jade 3

 

Brava, Mamma.

Do your dance.

 

 

 

More awesome from Janne: 

Celebrating the Skin We’re In. {48 Nude Images}

 

 

More images by Jade Beall: 

“You Are Beautiful.” Natural Naked Body Images. {Nudity}

 

 

 

Author: Janne Robinson

Editor: Renée Picard

Images by Jade Beall  (used with permission)

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Noirin Aug 15, 2015 11:18pm

thanks

karen Katz Jul 22, 2015 12:31pm

James' last comment just about says it ALL!
I have seen so much parenting, my own and others, and I can tell you that you can do everything "right" and it can all come to naught. (and I certainly didn't mean to imply that her adorable little boy will end up on drugs….but learning to tolerate being refused something you want is a lesson that a 2-3 year old needs to start learning).

I adored breast feeding my sons, and would have done it a little longer (circumstances both times prevented it)….but I hold to my opinion (and if the photographer is going to publish a picture of her nursing her little boy, then I think I am entitled to comment on it)….nursing past about age 2 just doesn't feel right to me, whatever anthropological studies are quoted.

james616orchardwriting Jul 22, 2015 9:03am

It seems to me that cultural context does matter in that parents shouldn't wean to early but must also look at what it may mean to breast feed for too long. I agree that our culture does not place as much importance on breast feeding generally and then tries to ween too early, but the flip side of that coin is placing too much emphasis on breast feed and weening at a much later age as a form of attachment parenting. As a person, I love my mother and love my independence and personal strengths and that I was encouraged to find and develop these things in reasonable ways at reasonable times in my childhood. Letting go can be just as much a loving act as holding on.

I would add, that when I hear of parents ferberizing their kids at a very young age (many times these are parents who believe in extended breast feeding) I have to wonder if their thinking is more about their own needs as opposed to their child's. They indulge in one instance, but when the child truly needs to feel safe and held at night, they turn a shoulder.

Last, as a parent with two teenagers, I also know that the parent in the photo hasn't seen anything yet. Teens are a whole other issue.

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Janne Robinson

Janne Robinson is a 21st-century feminist beat poet. Her voice haunts with the legacy of early feminists and poets such as Gloria Steinem, Charles Bukowski, and Jack Kerouac. Her no sugar shit prose cuts with the honesty and simplicity of Bukowski and the romantic reliability of Kerouac. Her poetry leads like a woman, walking with fire in the footprints of Steinem—breathing sexual liberation, choice, and overall championing women to their birthright of not only equality but leadership.

Robinson notoriously states that her career is to “share slabs of her heart for a living.” Her ability to capture the human experience with unrefined sincerity makes her an incredible force in the modern landscape of personal expression.

Her loyal following of enthusiasts on social media are there not only for her brutal honesty and lyrical grace but also for her lifestyle, which is a mirror of her devotion to joy and refusal to work to work to work to die. Robinson’s films and art shit on the societal “shoulds” and norms and encourage people to ‘build their own box’. She is an outrageous idealist and master at effortlessly marrying the life she wishes to live with her work, and this enrages and inspires many who believe they are trapped.

Robinson’s foray into directing and the multimedia world was in directing a spoken word poetry film in NYC involving 18 women reading the lines from her poem, “This Is For The Women Who Don’t Give a Fuck.” The film was a viral sensation online and was nominated for the 2016 Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards.

Janne is very much so crowning at the beginning of what is and will be a triumphant career, and she has begun so with the hearts of millions indebted and watching as it is rare to stumble upon a woman who makes revolution nature.

You can connect with her on Instagram or at her website.