I think it’s kind of sad how tizzied the internet has been since Us Weekly ran a report last week that singer Beyonce Knowles was spotted breastfeeding her newborn in public. Not one but three eyewitnesses came forward to confirm it.
Good grief, people. Can’t a mom (even—gasp—a celebrity mom) breastfeed her kid without setting off a shockwave of commentary?
Here’s what happened: Beyonce was seen breastfeeding Blue Ivy, her seven-week-old daughter, at a restaurant in New York. She is said to have fed her baby at the table, where she was having lunch with her husband, Jay-Z. No one at the restaurant appears to have told Ms. Knowles to put it back in her shirt, which is good. (Many public breastfeeders haven’t been so lucky.) But online, people are slinging their opinions left and right, many in support of Beyonce’s decision and some very much against it.
But here’s the thing: I honestly don’t think Beyonce was trying to be some sort of role model (or martyr) when she decided to feed her kid in public. My guess? (A) Blue Ivy was hungry, and (B) Beyonce was enjoying her meal. A + B = Feeding Blue Ivy at the table. It really isn’t rocket science.
But people are making the gesture out to be some sort of Paradigm-Shifting Sign, that either public breastfeeding has finally hit the mainstream (and look! we have a leader!) or the mores of society as we know it are crumbling around us now that moms evidently feel comfortable feeding their kids for all the world to see.
I think the fact that people care so much either way belies the heart of the problem—that for some reason we feel duty-bound to vociferously weigh in on what should be a completely personal decision. Why can’t we all agree that breastfeeding is a natural, vital part of life, and a mother’s decision to breastfeed in public (or not) is very much her own to make—and leave it at that?
The folks on the anti-public-breastfeeding side of the debate shouldn’t make mothers feel ashamed of breastfeeding in public if said mothers feel perfectly comfortable doing so. And those on the all-for-it side shouldn’t make the ones who prefer to breastfeed privately feel like they’re less liberated or openminded or whatever because they choose to feed their child in less public settings.
Here’s what I propose: Everybody shut up for a minute. Let moms decide for themselves whether they’d like to breastfeed their kids in public or not, without the din of your opinions ringing in their heads.
I’m pretty sure Beyonce doesn’t particularly care what you think. Just let her feed her baby, damn it.