I was invited to a nice gathering in my friend’s house in the beautiful north countryside of Lebanon, Tannourine. I had barely put a foot towards the house when a man, in his late sixties, comes along me, eyes wide open, ready for a big hug. It’s you, it’s you, come in here! I nodded, not really sure what he was talking about. You are the one at the yoga festival feeding her baby on her breast in front of everyone. I remember it very well ! Come along !
After a long and warm hug, he studies my face briefly and again acclaims me. Bravo my darling! Bravo ! I’m so proud of you ! You breastfed your baby without artifacts or fear, careless and free ! Bravo my child! Bravo! In my time, women did the same, they never cared about what people though! They’d put the baby on the breast and that was it. No big deal about it. Nobody would comment or criticize. Nobody cared ! I smile, he continues. I hope you will keep on breastfeeding your baby the same way. Will you? His smile takes a while to fade as if in in his eyes, the memory of his wife breastfeeding ( in public) was still vivid.
Yes, I will.
At this very moment, Tulsi is sleeping deeply in my baby wearing, her calm contrasting with his euphoria. We start elaborating the subject and I tell him that in fact, I never really cared about what people though, which makes him even happier, then add that my baby was born at home to what he replies : my last two children were also born at home !
He points the room where his wife delivered naturally then adds : the same midwife gave birth to all the kids living around here. They were all given to their mothers by her hands.
When was that again?
35 years ago.
I smile. He smiles. Then silence.
In my mind, I remember the contrast of the situation with another one, a few days ago.
It was at the dentist clinic.
After finishing my teeth, Tulsi started crying and looking for the tit. I decided to stay a little longer in the waiting room to calm her down and put her on the breast. At the same time, a young man came along and the secretary starred at me and whispered :
- I have to open the door to this man.
- And so?
- You are breastfeeding….
- Oh yes, I noticed. And so?
- Maybe it would be better if you covered…
- Well, I wont, I said. He can still come in.
She starred at me astonished. How dare I?
And the man came along.
And nothing happened.
It didn’t rain on us, it didn’t snow.
Life was pursing its normal course.
The young man barely looked at me, while the secretary was shaking and Tulsi happily eating her perfect food.
Still, my eyes were talking to this woman. “It is just a boob, not a bomb. Are you as terrified as you are now, when a woman, very sexually suggestive in her clothes comes by ? Why are you afraid of a woman breastfeeding her baby? How can this be worse than provocative clothes?”
Another time, we were outside when again, I pull off my shirt to breastfeed Tulsi. A friend of mine is looking at me breastfeeding with a little smile. Then he tells me, like a gentleman, that he can lend me his jacket if I want. I’m like. Do you feel cold?
Because, I don’t.
It’s just…if you feel uncomfortable about…
Why would I feel uncomfortable about feeding my baby in the most natural way?
It’s not me. It’s you.
End of the conversation.
As I went back home, I wondered. What is people problem with breastfeeding in public? Where does it come from? Why some are offended about a fearless woman feeding her baby? And how did we go from a normal and banal breastfeeding norm to a large amount of women using formula?
I though about all the adverts in Lebanon showing woman in bras and panties in the highway and yet nobody seems to complain.
I though about all the women with high heels and tight clothes walking in a sexy way in the streets and yet nobody seems to complain.
I though about all this sexualization of the society we live in, the fact that even to sell a car, models have to pose and yet nobody seems to complain.
I though about all the women starring for hours in the mirror, going to the gym to have the perfect body and those same women being offended by my feeding boobs.
Why this hypocrisy ?
In a country where a lot of women prefer formula to breast-feeding so they dont spoil their boobs, im surprised they are offended with public breastfeeding. If you want your boobs to be beautiful, isn’t it for other people sake ? Isn’t it to look good ? Isn’t it because you CARE about your body being in a certain shape and not another. And if you didn’t want to show off your body, why would you even care?
Everything in our society tend to be sexualize and when a woman breastfeeds in public, still, people are shocked, people act as if you were not here, as if you were being invasive.
You have to hide or stay at home, when you need to be supported. You have to be pudique because you might hurt some people ”feelings”.
You have to fake your natural behavior, the one that urges you to put the boob in your babys mouth whenever he is hungry, because babies dont have schedule, you have to adapt.
And so should lebanese.
Adapt and accept the natural process of motherhood.
The natural beauty of it.
And stop nagging about it.
Because it’s not us,