After Indiana-mother Maggie Naas ordered food for herself, she decided to breastfeed her 11-month old, Katie. But when she followed this instinct, the culture around her responded. The Olive Garden manager asked Naas to either cover up or feed her baby in the restroom.
“We had numerous guests complain about her modesty, Olive Garden General Manager Matthew Madden told KSDK, an NBC-affiliate in St. Louis. “There were children in the dining room. If the mother were more modest, this would have never been an issue.”
While I wasn’t in the restaurant, I imagine that the absence of a blanket was most of the reason that Nass’ breastfeeding seemed immodest. Why are feeding mothers expected to use a blanket and cover up? It seems like an unnecessary burden that only contributes to the taboo nature of breastfeeding. And why is breastfeeding such a terrible thing for children to see?
According to the news report, Nass didn’t have a blanket with her, and didn’t want to feed her child where people go to the bathroom, so she decided to leave.
“Culturally in the United States we do not accept breastfeeding as the norm, which we really need to, because it is the norm in feeding babies,” Lactation Consultant Cindy Razo told KSDK.
I agree with Razo. To me, this story highlights more than just a problem with one restaurant manager. It highlights a problem in mainstream U.S. society. The fact that there were numerous complaints about a woman naturally feeding her child shows how distant many of us have become from nature and the source of food. Naas was made to feel ashamed for following her natural maternal instinct, when instead, we should feed ashamed of our society for having such an aversion to seeing a completely natural event.
What do you think? Should restaurants and other public places mandate whether breastfeeding is acceptable, or decide what is modest breastfeeding? What would you have done in this situation? Share your comments.