After 14 months of breastfeeding her daughter, Brei Theisen was confronted for the first time at her local pool.
Theisen told Yahoo Beauty that:
“I breastfeed at this pool all the time with no problem.”
However, after finishing up, Theisen was approached by the manager. She recalled to Yahoo Beauty what he said to her:
“I need you to be more discreet because you’re offending other people and I can’t allow that to happen.”
Afterward, Theisen took to Facebook to vent her rage at the inappropriateness of the situation.
She explained to Yahoo Beauty:
“I told [the manager], ‘I’m not going to cover my daughter’s head in 90-degree weather.'”
She continued on her Facebook page:
[M]y initial instinct was to be very rude but instead I said [sic] do you tell the other people eating in the food area that they need cover up? Or am I supposed to starve my child because someone is uncomfortable with themselves or because they are sexualizing breastfeeding.
Theisen pointed out the disparities between how bottle feeding and breastfeeding are viewed:
[D]o they tell someone who’s bottle feeding to cover up or anything; no because it’s normal……. but since I choose to not bottle feed I need to do it somewhere else?
Women have banded together in the comments of Theisen’s post.
Some are outraged:Screenshot/Facebook Screenshot/Facebook Screenshot/Facebook
And some are proud and ready to protest:Screenshot/Facebook Screenshot/Facebook
When she first became a mother, Theisen said that a friend briefed her on public nursing laws. In Theisen’s home state of Illinois, as well as in 48 other states, there are specific laws that allow women to breastfeed in any private or public location.
Most states are very accommodating to breastfeeding mothers.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, breastfeeding is actually promoted because of health benefits for both the infant and the mother.
Eventually, the Wood River Parks and Recreation Department released a statement of apology:
Our manager and staff have been fully briefed on the law and will incorporate the law into our training for all employees immediately. We apologize to the mother and child or any inconvenience we may have caused them.
As one commenter put it: “Don’t like it, don’t look.”