There's really no telling how many people have seen my breasts during the three years I breastfed my two children. They ate all the time and I rarely brought a cover. While I was stealthy and never had an instance where I wound up attracting a ton of attention to myself, accidentally or on purpose, I know for a fact that my boobs have been exposed in public. But you know what? IDGAF. Seriously, the reasons I don't care if I flash strangers during breastfeeding are myriad and varied, from politically profound to simply "meh."
Unfortunately, in a modern American context, breastfeeding, particularly in public, is often a political act, whether intentionally or not. This is, of course, absolutely absurd since this is simply the way human beings have fed their babies since the dawn of nipples. Outside of being extraordinary when considered as an evolutionary development, there's nothing all that remarkable about breastfeeding. That's just, you know, generally the way things have been. So how did this become a thing?
In the late 19th century, Justus von Liebig invented infant formula, which was another pretty extraordinary development. Not only has formula saved countless baby lives, it's also allowed women more physical (and therefore financial) freedom by expanding the circle of people who can feed their baby in the mother's absence. But then things took a turn when formula companies realized there was money to be made and, as a result, took great efforts to discourage breastfeeding (often relying on pseudo-science and outright lies about breastfeeding, aided considerably by a Victorian and post-Victorian disdain for women's bodies). By 1972, breastfeeding rates had dropped to a historical low of about 22 percent, with only five percent nursing beyond the first few months.
Whether or not a woman chooses to breastfeed is immaterial, because there's no wrong way to feed a baby in this wonderful age of choices. But if you do not have access to the resources to give you options, well, it's not really a choice, is it? Nowadays, most babies are breastfed for at least the first three to six months of life, but getting to that number took a lot of dedicated effort from breastfeeding activists.
So it's in this context (and in the context of "honestly, let's not make this a thing, guys") that I truly don't care about showing a little bit of boob to a stranger. Here's why:
Because It's Just A Boob
Seriously, folks, grow up. It's a body part and, like all other body parts, this one serves a function. (Even the largely vestigial appendix does some good things for us!) In this case, a boob is a fatty, modified sweat gland that's developed over time to be well-adapted to feeding infant humans. That's it. It's not a big deal.
Because I'm Never Going To See This Person Again
Like, I can understand not wanting to flash your boob in front of, like your family or co-workers or something because, even though it's not a big deal and a boob is just a boob, people do have feelings about them and it might make for some awkwardness. But this random stranger? Chances are they've seen a boob before, they'll see a boob again, and mine is just one among hundreds or thousands. So they see my nipple for three seconds? La dee da.
Because It's Not My Main Concern Right Now
If you've ever been in a position to feed a hungry baby (and, if you're reading this article you probably have) you know how singularly focused you often have to be on that task. This is particularly true, in my experience, of an anxious and excited breastfed baby who's grunting and rooting when you don't take off your bra fast enough. So, yeah, in the flurry of ravenous baby, I might wind up flashing a nip. I don't care. I just need to get this little beast fed.
Because It's Subverting The Idea That Breasts Are Exclusively Sexual
Trust me when I say that I realize boobs can be sexy. I wasn't raised in some sort of societal vacuum where I can't recognize that as a practical reality. But the idea that a female body is, by virtue of being exposed or even existing, an object chiefly for sexual allure or gratification is crap. So, yeah stranger: you just saw my entire boob. It wasn't coy or flirty or for you. You just saw my boob in a neutral, natural, busy state. Sex appeal had nothing to do with it. Deal with it.
Because It's Helping To Normalize Breastfeeding
Whether or not someone actually sees your boob, breastfeeding in front of other people helps get society used to it. So if I wind up exposing a tata in the name of the struggle then, in my opinion, it's totally worth it.
Because Do You Have Any Idea How Much Of Me Has Been Exposed To How Many People In The Process Of Having Babies?
Oh, you saw a part of my body usually covered by clothing? Join this super exclusive club of basically everyone. Between doctors, nurses, midwives, hospital workers, ultrasound technicians, I don't think there are too many people in the Tri-State area who haven't had a peek at some point or another. Pregnancy and childbirth are basically a period of realizing, "Your body is a miraculous monument of magic... and it ain't that special, now put on this robe and put your feet in the stirrups."
Because If Someone Is Going To Get Super Bent Out Of Shape About It, Honestly, I'm Fine With That
If this is what you're going to focus your energy on, by all means.
Because I'd Rather Be Exposed Than Paranoid
After a while, I find, you usually get so practiced at breastfeeding that you can nurse right in front of someone and they don't necessarily even know it, but that takes some practice, and some of that practice is fumbling and clumsy. It's hard enough to get the hang of things without the crippling fear of worrying you're going to expose your breast.
Because I'm *Actually* Out Of The House
Wheeeeeeeeeeeee! I'm out! I'm free! Look! What's that?! It's... OMG IT'S ANOTHER ADULT! Hi other adult! How are you? What news of the outside world?! Oh, sorry, that was my boob, but enough of that! I've been out of the loop for so long I just want some adult conversation. Talk to me about the latest videos I can rent at Blockbuster!"
Because I Can't Control Someone Else's Gaze
o maybe a glimpse of my naked breast is going to send someone in a tizzy. Or maybe it's going to give some dude a boner. I have no control over other people and so I can't spend too much time worrying about how a simple, innocuous action is going to affect them. That's on them to deal with, really.