Open Letter to Facebook
January 30, 2012
Dear Facebook Management:
I’m the author of three published books on breastfeeding and hundreds of magazine articles. I was the Executive Director of La Leche League Canada for three years, and I’m a frequent speaker at parenting and lactation conferences. I’ve been helping mothers breastfeeding for more than three decades.
I know a lot about breastfeeding, and also about the barriers that make it difficult for so many women to succeed.
By removing, or allowing your employees to remove, photographs of breastfeeding, you are adding to those barriers.
Women are told by their doctors, midwives and other health care experts that breastfeeding is the most appropriate and healthiest way to feed a baby. We have stacks of research to show that this is true. Naturally, the majority of women do choose breastfeeding.
But when they share their joy and pride in giving their babies this wonderful gift by posting photos on Facebook, only to get a stern warning that the photos are “obscene,” they feel hurt. They feel embarrassed. They feel shamed. Their bottle-feeding friends who posted photos of babies enjoying their bottles didn’t get messages like that.
If the new mother was a little nervous about going out in public with her breastfeeding baby, now it’s worse. If Facebook thinks breastfeeding is obscene, what other reactions might she get?
And the young woman or teenage girl who doesn’t yet have children also learns an unintentional message: all over Facebook she can see photos of babies with bottles, but none of babies breastfeeding. The message? Bottle-feeding is normal, breastfeeding isn’t.
Breastfeeding is too important for the health of babies, mothers and ultimately the planet to be subject to the whim of insufficiently-trained employees. Please take whatever steps you need to ensure that breastfeeding photos are no longer removed, whether or not some skin or nipple is visible. The laws in both the US and Canada are quite clear that in a breastfeeding context, this is not obscene or inappropriate.
Thank you for supporting mothers and babies.