Yesterday, I saw a fair bit of talk about the breastfeeding selfie, also known as the”brelfie”, which is apparently the “latest trend” online for mums. After I finished laughing (because, really, the latest? I saw them for the first time about 2.5 years ago when my youngest was born and I joined a breastfeeding support group on facebook- and they’d been around a while before then!) I read a bit more about the apparently “new” phenomenon.
I was surprised that so many still think they’re a bad thing. There were the usual “I support breastfeeding BUT (insert reason they don’t actually support breastfeeding)” and I’ll get to those people in a minute but what struck me first was the idea that women shouldn’t post breastfeeding selfies because it makes people who couldn’t breastfeed feel bad.
If you are one of those people, can I tell you, that is generally NOT the reason people share these pictures.
People share photos of breastfeeding for three main reasons, in my experience.
The first is because they’re proud. Breastfeeding can come really easily to some people or it can be bloody hard with things like oral ties, crappy advice, bad latch, under-supply, over-supply, intolerances, colic, reflux, blocked ducts, mastitis- the list goes on. Some mums work really hard to overcome barriers to breastfeeding. I did. People share their breastfeeding selfies like they share any other triumph over adversity. But somehow, no one minds when other one triumphs are shared online…
That feeling you get when you time it all right and open a perfectly ripe avocado #winning…
— Bonnie Greene (@HeyBonnieMae) February 26, 2015
I have nearly completed the Pregnancy Pedicure challenge. As I am reaching over this beach ball belly to paint my own toesies. #Winning
— Mandy Musgrave (@Mandy_Musgrave) February 21, 2015
The second reason people seem to share these pictures is an effort to normalise breastfeeding. The more we see it, the less unusual it becomes, right? The reason mums started using the #brelfie tag was in response to yet another mum having a breastfeeding picture removed from Facebook. And let’s not forget that you can barely read the news or turn on the television without seeing someone criticising mums who breastfeed in public. The third reason people seem to share them is because they are celebrating breastfeeding; the amazing thing our bodies can do along with the bond they have with their child. Feeding is just one facet of that bond- whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, there’s nothing quite like snuggling up with your little one for a milky cuddle. On a morning program in the UK, two women debated the breastfeeding selfie, with one, Angela Epstein, saying breastfeeding selfies are mothers being “exhibitionists” and “flaunting” themselves as well as saying that breastfeeding should be “an intimate, private, bonding moment, just you and your baby”. Sometimes breastfeeding is a private, bonding moment and it’s lovely and special and all that- but most of the time it’s just food. We don’t need to romanticise it or, worse still, make it something to hide away in shame over. Exhibitionist? Flaunting? Come on. Would you say that about these ladies?
We have been recording breastfeeding through art and photography for centuries. It’s not new. Gisele didn’t come up with it and neither did Miranda. But this sexualisation of what is not a sexual act? That’s relatively new! That’s one of those things we can thank the modern world for- the fetishisation of women’s bodies in the media and on the screen. If nothing else, the breastfeeding selfie is an attempt to reclaim our bodies for what they’re intended for…
Image Source So, in the spirit of the #brelfie here is my most recent one:
#nofilter #brelfie #breastfeeding #selfie look how happy she is! A photo posted by Amy A (@handbag_mafia) on
Have you shared a breastfeeding selfie on social media?