Whether you personally choose and are able to breastfeed, or not, it's pretty common to see it everywhere: out in public, on social media, on television shows (occasionally), and even in the news. Sometimes it is portrayed in a positive light and other times, well, not so much. Sometimes it is portrayed correctly and then, of course, there are numerous times when the portrayal of breastfeeding misses the mark. Thankfully, there are times when TV got breastfeeding totally right, and the importance of highlighting breastfeeding positively and accurately cannot be understated. As the controversy surrounding breastfeeding in public continues to spark debate and heated conversation, I'd argue that now more than ever the media needs to highlight breastfeeding in an attempt to de-stigmatize and de-sexualize a normal and natural act. After all, an estimated 16.4% of women breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months, so it's time that we see more media representation of a choice so many mothers are making. Who knows, maybe that number would grow if we could turn on our televisions and see positive representations of breastfeeding on the regular.
With my daughter, I chose and was able to breastfeed. Luckily for me, I had a supportive group of friends and family who helped me to understand breastfeeding and would stick up for me when I needed to feed my daughter, no matter where we were. While I did breastfeed in public, I often tried to find a place slightly more private. I felt the most comfortable when I was somewhere discreet, and I can't help but think my need for privacy stemmed from the constant sexualization of breastfeeding, which media has, no doubt, perpetuated. And of course, and unfortunately, there are women who don't have the support system with which I was blessed, and don't receive the encouragement necessary to successfully breastfeed for an extended period of time. If those women were able to turn on the television and see themselves in main characters, perhaps they wouldn't feel so alone and, in turn, feel like they could tackle breastfeeding, even if they don't have a support system to assist them.
So, while the media has a way to go, it can be helpful to look back and see the times when television actually got it right when it came to breastfeeding. Is every example completely perfect? No, but it's a start, so I'll take it.