15 Things People Feel Fine Saying To Women Breastfeeding In Public (And How To Respond)

It's a common misconception that a woman's body is meant for public consumption. Whether in the form of unsolicited opinions or judgments, women are subjected to a barrage of other people's feelings about what they should (and shouldn't) be doing in their own skin. Of course this is ridiculous and damaging and something that a myriad of feminist groups have been crusading against for decades, but unfortunately the practice of judging other women for existing persists. Breastfeeding women are hardly immune. In fact, they are often more vulnerable. There are things people feel fine saying to women breastfeeding in public, and I think it's time breastfeeding moms start talking back.

The truth of the matter is that despite a collective 38 months of nursing two children, I never once got a negative comment about breastfeeding in public. The people in my life were supportive, and if they said something that could possibly be seen as anti-breastfeeding it was never done maliciously and they were more than willing to become more informed and, as a result, even more supportive. The only comments I ever got from strangers were positive, largely from self-described "old hippie" women who were, "so happy to see women nursing in public." It was really nice, honestly, and I was and remain grateful to have been on the receiving end of such warmth and positivity.

But, um, you guys? I'm snarky. Like, really snarky. More than just my admiration for a healthy dose of snark, I'm really vocal about empowering breastfeeding mothers to stand up for their rights in the face of nastiness and shame and judgment and ignorance. So, I had a lot of witty retorts all lined up just in case someone ever said something rude. I've weaned my last child and no longer have the opportunity to use any of these personally so, in the spirit of sisterhood and sarcasm, I gift them all to you. Use them wisely, use them confidently and, of course, enjoy.

"Can You Cover Up?"

What you'd love to say: "Well, probably? I mean, I guess. I got dressed this morning so I know I could probably just use those skills to cover up. Oh? Are you asking me if I will cover up? Ha! Yeah, no."

Actual response: "I have a legal right to be here, please leave me alone."

"That's Disgusting"

What you'd love to say: "Believe me, it's way worse coming out."

Actual response: "Please leave me alone."

"Can You Do That In The Bathroom?"

What you'd love to say: "Oh my God, can I?! Really?! I was only out here because I was too nervous to ask if I could go in the bathroom, but it's always been my dream to feed my child where people take a dump. Thank you for empowering me to make my dream come true!" (Then just stare at them deadpan until they walk away.)

Actual response: "I have a legal right to be here, please leave me alone."

"Breast Milk Stops Being Beneficial After Six Months Or So"

What you'd love to say: "Well, normal breast milk, sure. But I am of a powerful race of immortals and my nourishing breast milk is imbuing my child with my people's secrets to eternal life."

Actual response: "That's not even a little bit true."

"You Can't Have A Drink!"

What you'd love to say:

Actual response: "Actually, the general consensus is that if you're sober enough to drive you're sober enough to nurse, and if you're not just wait until you are. So I can, in fact, have a drink."

"That's Not Fair To Your Partner"

What you'd love to say: "It's OK, I have a permission slip. Technically, sure, my partner has exclusive rights to my breasts, but they were kind enough to loan them back to me so that I can adequately feed my child. Aren't they they sweetest?"

Actual response: "What I do with my body is no more my partner's business than it is yours."

"Your Kid Is Too Old For That"

What you'd love to say: "You're probably right. What's even weirder is that this is one of those Benjamin Button cases, so this isn't a toddler at all, but an 89 year old."

Actual response: "That's a completely subjective opinion and also none of your business."

"It's More For You Than For Them"

What you'd love to say: "Who told you?!" Be sure to ask this in an intense and panicked whisper. You could also act like a Scooby-Doo villain. "That's right! And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

Actual response: "There are countless benefits to breastfeeding, so you don't know what you're talking about and it's none of your business."

"But They Have Teeth!"

What you'd love to say: "They don't bother me and they're my nipples, so there's no need for you to get upset."

Actual response: You know what? Yeah, just go ahead and use that, because it's true.

"You're Going To Spoil Them"

What you'd love to say: Don't say anything, but the next time you see them eating lunch grab their food and throw it away in front of them, then say, "I had to. After all, that sandwich was spoiling you."

Actual response: "Breastfeeding doesn't spoil babies. This what they eat."

"If They're Old Enough To Ask, They're Too Old To Nurse"

What you'd love to say: "On what scientific, well-researched principle are you basing this assertion? Oh, you don't have any such research or evidence? So would you say this is your opinion, based on cultural biases and a lack of understanding about breastfeeding? That's what I thought."

Actual response: Again, just go ahead and use that. Or just roll your eyes and go about your business. After all, you're not responsible for educating these jerks.

"I Shouldn't Have To See That"

What you'd love to say: "I know, and I'm so sorry you have a medical condition that prohibits you from turning your head or averting your eyes. Have you considered setting up a GoFundMe page to help defer the costs of getting that fixed?"

Actual response: "So don't look."

"There Are Kids Here!"

What you'd love to say: "I know, they're everywhere around here! Look! There's one right here on my boob! How'd you get there, kid?!"

Actual response: "Yes. We came here specifically because it's kid-friendly. I have a legal right to be here. Please leave me alone."

"That's Lewd"

What you'd love to say: "No, this is!" Then just make a series of really obscene hand gestures and pantomimes until they get uncomfortable and walk away.

Actual response: "There's nothing lewd about feeding a baby."

"I Don't Go To The Bathroom In Public: You Shouldn't Be Allowed To Do That"

Seriously, don't bother engaging in this one. If someone can't tell the difference between human waste and feeding a child, they are beyond your help and talking to them is just wasting everyone's time.