February 16th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • In the News

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Appeals to Facebook to Change their Policy

I'm a little late posting this, but regardless I believe it is important to share.  I think everyone who reads this blog has heard about the 'Big Brother' Facebook issue by now (or maybe I should say Big Mother)?  What I find particularly ridiculous is their reactionary stance on the removal of these so-called 'obscene' breastfeeding pictures.  So, you can have a breastfeeding picture on your profile as long as no one complains about it.  Hmmm... I've seen pictures that barely show the breast let alone a nipple that have been removed by Facebook and yet there are others showing "everything" that haven't.  If Facebook has policies in place, then they should be upheld across the board, not just when the wheel squeaks.  It is discriminatory.

It reminds me of a job I had about 20 years ago (yes I was a victim of child labour).  The employee parking lot accommodated only a fraction of the people who worked in the building, therefore some of us had to park on the street.  There was a 3 hour parking bylaw, but it was only enforced (with a parking ticket) if a resident complained.  Needless to say, we quickly got to know which addresses NOT to park in front of due to them housing particularly 'grumpy' homeowners that had nothing better to do but to call the city to give us a ticket.

So Facebook, I appeal to you as follows:  If you are going to pull pictures and cancel accounts, then each and every picture posted to Facebook MUST be screened using identical criteria.  Therefore, if a picture of a mother breastfeeding her baby, with the baby's head positioned in such a way that no part of the areola is exposed, is considered obscene, then so is a picture of a burlesque dancer wearing pasties.  It is as simple as that - the same rules MUST apply to all parties.

Here is a copy of the press release issued by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine last month.

Facebook flack regarding breastfeeding mothers

New Rochelle, NY, January 12, 2009 - "The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine feels that the social networking website, Facebook, would be well advised to review its policy banning photographs of breastfeeding mothers. Such a policy perpetuates the notion that breastfeeding is an unseemly bodily function best kept from public viewing, a misguided and antiquated concept that has no place in contemporary society. It further perpetuates the idea that formula feeding is normative when breastfeeding is, and should be considered, normative infant and young child feeding. Health professionals widely acknowledge that breastfeeding is biologically unique and appropriate for the mother and infant.Giampietrino - The Virgin Nursing the Child with St John the Baptist in Adoration

Throughout most of history, breastfeeding, whether performed in private or otherwise, has been regarded as a natural and wholesome aspect of daily living. In fact, some of the greatest works of Renaissance art dealt with the theme of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding her infant son (the Madonna Lactans).  Note from Wendy - no less than 47 images, in Wikipedia alone, appeared when I Googled "Madonna Lactans".  I have incuded one such image to the right - and a stunningly beautiful one at that.  And yes that is a COMPLETELY EXPOSED areola (gasp! - what were they thinking back in the 16th century?)

So important is breastfeeding for the well-being of infants, mothers, and society at large that no less than forty four states have enacted legislation safeguarding the right of a mother to breastfeed in public. The Surgeon General's Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding encourages "images of breastfeeding as the normal way to feed infants in most places women and their infants go." Facebook should certainly be considered one of those places."

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine is a worldwide organization of physicians dedicated to the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding and human lactation through education, research, and advocacy. An independent, self-sustaining, international physician organization and the only organization of its kind, ABM's mission is to unite members of various medical specialties through physician education, expansion of knowledge in breastfeeding science and human lactation, facilitation of optimal breastfeeding practices, and encouragement of the exchange of information among organizations.

Very well stated.  OK, Facebook... are you finally going to step-up to the plate?  Tell me what you think - will Facebook ever eat their words?

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Gaijin Zoo says:

Great looking blog and interesting post.

I personally don't have an opinion about breastfeeding in public/showing images in public etc.. I can see both sides of the argument, so I'm just going to sit on the fence.

Gaijin Zoo

Posted on February 16, 2009