Mila Kunis Was Shamed For Public Breastfeeding, & Has Some Choice Words For Her Critics
Celebrity moms might have it easier in some ways than the rest of us (as in, lots of help and money), but it doesn't mean they're immune to being judged for their parenting choices — even if those choices seem totally uncontroversial. While she was still nursing her daughter, Wyatt, Mila Kunis was shamed for public breastfeeding, and told Vanity Fair that it caught her totally off-guard. Like all moms who breastfeed exclusively, Kunis explained that it hardly even occurred to her that there'd be anything wrong with feeding her child wherever she happened to be. She told the magazine,
I literally breastfed everywhere...There were many times where I didn’t bring a cover with me, and so I just did it in a restaurant, in the subway, in the park, at airports, and in planes.
And though this shouldn't have been an issue (why should you have to find a hiding spot to feed your child?), Kunis said that she was often on the receiving end of stares and dirty looks from strangers for not covering up:
It always made my husband and I feel a little weird. It took us a little back because people actually looked at us in a shameful [way], and we were like, ‘Oh my God,’ because it’s so not a sexual act.
It's hard to understand that the idea of public breastfeeding could still be hot button issue among some people, but Kunis, who is now pregnant with her second child, has some theories about why it's so hard for some people to accept women breastfeeding their children out in the open. She said,
I think it’s unfortunate that people are so hard on women who choose to [breastfeed] and do it in public. In the States and in our culture, we sexualize the breast so much that there’s an aspect of it that people just don’t know how to wrap their head around the idea of showing your breast in public.
Of course, mothers who would prefer to cover up or breastfeed in private are free to make whatever choice works best for them, but that's a very different thing than feeling like you should, or that those around you expect it. And although Kunis acknowledges that people who might not be accustomed to seeing mothers breastfeeding in public could be uncomfortable, the solution, she said, is pretty simple: "If it’s not for you, don’t look.” (Amen!)
Kunis' husband, Ashton Kutcher hasn't yet commented on the breastfeeding backlash his wife has received, but back in 2015 he did share his own frustration about the difficulty many dads face when it comes to trying to change their babies' diapers when out in public. In a Facebook post, Kutcher wrote about the lack of change tables in men's washrooms, even though they're almost always found in women's washrooms (my own husband has expressed his frustration over this many times). Kutcher said,
There are NEVER diaper changing stations in mens public restrooms. The first public men's room that I go into that has one gets a free shout out on my FB page! #BeTheChange
But he didn't just gripe about it: Kutcher also started a Change.org petition to get Target and Costco to "initiate a company-wide policy to provide universally accessible changing tables in their stores." And it was a success: though Target responded to the petition by saying it had already had change tables standard in men's washrooms for years, Costco agreed to include family bathrooms in all new or remodeled stores.
It's hard to imagine sometimes that a couple as well-known as Kunis and Kutcher could possibly have a hard time with the same regular parenting stuff as the rest of us. But by speaking out about it, they're able not only to validate other parents' experiences, but try and actually make a difference, too. (If only it were possible to eradicate mean comments about breastfeeding with a Change.org petition...)