Breasts. Pretty much half the world have got them so what’s the big deal about getting them out?
I’m not talking Hugh Hefner parties or Page 3. I mean breastfeeding.
I’ve written a post on this subject before (The Great Boob Debate) but it’s an issue that keeps attracting the column inches.
Women are lambasted in the press for feeding too long (“check out this freak show with a 3-year-old hanging off her nips”), too publicly (“how dare you feed anywhere to suit the needs of your baby. Shame on you”) or too brazenly (“tsk…posting brelfies on Facebook - like you’re proud you’re feeding your baby or something”).
The comedian, Adam Hills’ sketch on this very subject is brilliant.
With breasts now so incredibly sexualised in our society, it’s little wonder some people have difficulty separating seeing cleavage on the page to actual tits out serving their purpose in Costa.
Photographer and writer Laura Dodsworth set about to create a project exploring the dichotomy between how women feel about their breasts privately and how they are presented for public consumption through the media.
‘Bare Reality’ is a fascinating book featuring the chests of 100 women, aged between 19 and 101, each revealing their stories, from breast cancer to breastfeeding.
Yesterday I went to a BooksEast event in Ipswich, featuring Laura in conversation with Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs editor at the Guardian, where she explained her passion for the work and how she hopes it inspires others.
During the Q&A with a small (women-only) audience, the topic of society's views towards breastfeeding in public was raised.
One woman said she breastfed 15 years ago and faced no disapproval, whereas now it seemed to her that feeding in public is littered with problems. Another said she thought times have moved on and it is fairly widely acceptable.
From my own experience two years ago, I would side with the latter view. Thankfully I never personally faced any ejection from public spaces and although I heard about some cases locally, the majority of people just seemed to turn a blind eye and let me get on with it.
Despite the varying opinions on breasts and what they represent, the great thing about Laura’s project is that it reopens the debate. It invites us to reassess our own views, challenge our personal prejudices and reminds us that we need to fight against harmful attitudes.
As a woman, a mother, a father, a man, a feminist, we all have responsibility to educate so that the next generation don't have to shamefully cover up while giving their baby the most basic need.
Basically, the message is, don’t be a tit about it.