Expert Advice on “Breastfeeding” Without Controversy

This is in response, sort of but in general whether you’re in the military or not, to this photo, and others, mentioned at Huffington Post, and elsewhereGo ahead, gawk and wince.

Nursing doesn’t have to be controversial. Too often the conflicts over breastfeeding in public turn into a debate about whether the woman has a right to expose herself in public or not. One side says it’s natural and the woman is justified, the other side says she isn’t because, frankly, it makes people uncomfortable.

When I was younger, I was in the first category, a me-first mentality and the media seems to encourage that mindset. “Look what a great mom I am!” For me, that need to show-off was a compensation for the compromises and insecurities of trying to appear liberated. As I nurse this seventh child now, I realize my approach to nursing has changed, drastically. [1] Age? Experience? Faith? (Exhaustion?) A lot of reasons.

First, that compulsion to prove myself vanished. I’m happy, confident, and proud in my home, and if I must go somewhere, then I am prepared to find an enclave. Nursing, like it or not, is private, and a woman is not oppressed if she has to excuse herself to feed her child. It’s a considerate gesture, an act of propriety, to acknowledge those around you — basic good manners. [2]

Second, because it will happen, when I have no choice but to nurse in front of other people, I do it discretely. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and a woman’s attitude can put others at ease. Cover up with a blanket, focus on the baby, and do what needs to be done. This may seem insignificant, but refraining from eye contact will do much to maintain a little private bubble. [3] Chances are, no one will even notice, and your mini-withdrawal will put them at ease if they do. Once the baby’s situated, carry on. People don’t mind knowing you are nursing, it’s the risk of exposure that makes them nervous. Understandably so. Nursing is intimate.

Third, I simply let myself enjoy it. It’s not a competition and babies grow too fast anyway. These are precious moments. So what if you have to make temporary sacrifices? So what if you have to learn, by sometimes failing, to navigate uncomfortable scenarios graciously?

Last, using a more appropriate word helped me orient my thinking. “Breastfeeding” sounds so utilitarian. I prefer to call it “nursing” which implies loving care. Moms nurse the child in the womb, and into adulthood. Every stage comes with its challenges and joys, so let the first years be intimately special, and leave the controversy for another day. [4]

In other words, lighten up. You don’t need publicly published professional photography to capture the moment and rankle a non-issue.

 

What? Did you think I've violate what I just said with a photo of a bare-chested woman?

 

[1] More like, all pretense has been beaten out of me.

[2] No one posts pictures of changing poopy diapers.

[3] Shooting daring glances at strangers is a bad idea.

[4] Like those things Mr. Donald R. McClarey pointed out.

 

Image credit: Microsoft Powerpoint

42 Responses to Expert Advice on “Breastfeeding” Without Controversy

  • “Cover up with a blanket, focus on the baby, and do what needs to be done. This may seem insignificant, but refraining from eye contact will do much to maintain a little private bubble.”

    You know, as a practical matter, unless you’re literally hiding in a corner, I don’t think this is actually true. I think it makes you *more* noticeable, if you happen to be out in public, to be “focusing on the baby” (not to mention that it’s not possible both to cover up with a blanket and focus on the baby unless the blanket is over your own head).

    I’m nursing my fourth child — I’ve been a nursing mother for almost 12 years straight now — and learning how to breastfeed casually and comfortably AND without showing a lot of skin was definitely a learning curve. I’m sure I was horrible at it when I was nursing my first newborn, and I have a terrible memory of leaking milk all over the grocery store once. But anyway, if I’m seated and have a small baby tucked well into a baby sling that provides its own cover, I find that once I get set up so to speak, the key to not being noticed is to NOT look at the baby — just look people in the eye and act normally. Most people assume, I think, that the baby is sleeping. OTOH, whenever I tried to fuss with one of those cover-up thingies I always felt like I had a big flashing sign over my head that read “THIS LADY HAS HER BOOB OUT UNDER HERE.” So I quit ‘em.

  • I love the idea of appropriate wording. I too call it nursing most of the time. It is an apt term.

    I’m still nursing my third child and have had changes in my attitude toward nursing in public over the years, but I think our attitudes are going in the opposite direction. When my oldest was born, I never nursed in front of anyone except my husband, mother, and sister. If anyone else was around, I would retreat somewhere else. It got old fast. I felt pretty lonely. If we were out in public, I would find sitting rooms in the bathroom or some place extremely private. Again lonely. Once while in the sitting room of the bathroom in a department store, I got treated to two women (old enough to know better) completely grossed out by my nursing. They just couldn’t believe anyone would do something like that especially in public (public being the restroom but not in a stall). So after that and over time I pretty much developed the attitude of ‘screw it.’ Not screw it to discretion or good manners and taste, but screw it to other people’s hang-ups. I decided to be discreet and nurse where ever I felt it was appropriate and not feel like I had a moral responsibility to go hide in a closet.

    I think a friendly confident attitude is the key to making everyone at ease when nursing in public. You shouldn’t have a defiant attitude daring someone to question you, a la TIME magazine, but you also shouldn’t be so uncomfortable that you project the attitude of “I am doing something weird and perhaps wrong here so please, please, please don’t look at me.” If you do your very best not to flash the world and not make a scene, I think you have fulfilled your moral obligation.

    I agree with bearing that a woman with a cover-up is usually more noticeable than the discreet non-covered nurser. I know I notice more. Especially with a baby unaccustomed to having a blanket on his head and very unhappy about it. Also I hate it when people compare nursing to dirty diapers. Not the same. Breastmilk is not hazardous waste.

  • Thank you for that advice! That last part was funny, yeah, I get what you mean. :-D

  • Loved the article. Breastmilk is not dairy. Diapers are slightly less gross.

  • There’s no reason that a child should be forced to have lunch in a public restroom … it’s not like any of us would chose to do so!

  • Fr Levi

    I recall a lady, who was helping me with the lambing, breaking off to nurse her baby on a straw bale in the corner of the lambing-shed. I remember thinking to myself, “That child will never suffer from allergies”

    Really, it astonishes me that anyone would feel squeamish about a child being nursed.

  • I have, on a few occasions, approached women who were discreetly nursing, in order to ask directions or some other innocuous thing, only to realize when I’m right in front of them what was happening. They were so good at simply not advertising their preoccupation that I didn’t even begin to notice. Most times, as well, they were quite comforatble in responding to what I was asking.

    I’ve never approached anybody doing what the soldier women were doing.

  • I’ve never approached anybody doing what the soldier women were doing.

    Both of them? I’ve looked at the picture and the woman with twins is quite exposed, but I have never had twins so it might be impossible to discreetly nurse twins. I don’t know that may be the best that can be done. Given that, I don’t think I would nurse twins in public if that is the best possible outcome because she really is very exposed and I would be very uncomfortable with it.

    But the woman on the right looks very discreet. Maybe she could have straightened her shirt there a bit, but I don’t see any flesh so that qualifies as a good job in my book. If the woman on the right is lumped in with the others as inappropriate public nursing, then, to me, she is an example of how nursing mothers should not be responsible for other people’s hang-ups.

  • I nursed my daughter until she was about eighteen months old. Never had any issue doing it in public, although I absolutely covered myself during. I’ve found that most people either don’t notice or don’t care so long as your breasts aren’t hanging out.

  • I’m with Bearing. If you have the knack for nursing with no flesh showing, the most discreet thing is to act like you’re just holding your baby. I’ve watch a pro mom do this (in her kitchen, when I *knew* she had just taken a fussy baby and put it to a breast), and had to mentally remind myself she was nursing, just because, well, looks like mom holding sleeping baby.

    I think the obvious retreat, blanket thrown over baby, etc., only draws attention to what is happening. Good second choice if you can’t physically manage to breastfeed discretely, but it’s a second choice.

  • Fittingly, about a week ago I was at the local Army BX and a lady was nursing in the baby area. I didn’t realize that was what she was doing when I called the Toddler Terrible back from her, just figured she was getting a feel for the baby blanket.

    FWIW, no, the ladies should NOT have been photographed in uniform to promote something or other for a non-military source. It’s beaten into your head as military, you do NOT use the uniform for ANYTHING that’s not military.

    The rule I use for nursing is “get what must be done done without hurting anybody.” And yes, flashing your boobies at a gazillion folks who just wanted to go shopping is a form of harm. Basic freaking manners, ladies. Nobody wants to see your boobies unless they’re married to you. I may be only on baby #2, but try to act like a civilized human. Someone gives you crud in spite of it? That’s their problem. They’re punished enough by being blankers.

  • WK Aiken, “I’ve never approached anybody doing what the soldier women were doing.” Exactly!

  • Jenny,

    “Given that, I don’t think I would nurse twins in public if that is the best possible outcome because she really is very exposed and I would be very uncomfortable with it.”

    That’s what I thought too.

    “But the woman on the right looks very discreet.”

    I think if the photo had only been of that woman, the photo never would have even been controversial.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Mandy P,

    “I’ve found that most people either don’t notice or don’t care so long as your breasts aren’t hanging out.”

    Yep. :-D

    Jennifer Fitz,

    “Good second choice if you can’t physically manage to breastfeed discretely, but it’s a second choice.”

    Exactly.

    These are great comments. Thank you.

  • Foxfier,

    “FWIW, no, the ladies should NOT have been photographed in uniform to promote something or other for a non-military source. It’s beaten into your head as military, you do NOT use the uniform for ANYTHING that’s not military.”

    Thank you for saying that.

    “The rule I use for nursing is get what must be done done without hurting anybody.”

    Perfect and AMEN. Yes, and if you are doing your best and someone gets offended anyway, it’s a YP not an MP (your problem/my problem). ;-)

  • Yall must be a lot more refined than I am. :) You have voiced my general idea much more charitably than I put it. My goal is to do the best for everyone involved in the situation. This includes me, the hungry baby, anyone nearby, and passing strangers. The person not on my priority list is the one who is disgusted by the very notion of a nursing baby.

    I won’t speak to the appropriateness of getting photographed in uniform. I don’t have any military experience so if you say it is not allowed to be photographed without permission, it is not unreasonable for these women to be punished for not seeking permission. I will say that in general it should not be required for women to change out of uniform to nurse their babies. Can you imagine having to change 8 to 12 times a day? Not reasonable. It does make me wonder if there are any military issue nursing shirts. They have maternity clothes, right?

    Funny story: I went to a baby shower when my son was about six weeks old. The expectant mother had a male relative (in his 50s?)who somehow got on the subject of nursing. He was absolutely repulsed by it. He loudly and with hostility declared that nursing was disgusting and it absolutely should not be done in public and he once saw a woman nursing at an airport and wanted to hit her in the face. And while this joyful man was blessing us with his opinions, I was sitting across the room from him nursing my baby and he had no idea.

  • They’re not going to get punished, the pictures just can’t be used. If they did it again they’d be punished, or if they’d embarassed the command or military. If the headline I’ve seen about “military mom ‘proud’ in spite of rebuke” is correct, she might get punished, but that’s because she’s hurting the chain of command. You don’t make a big public deal about how your chain is wrong to tell you something isn’t allowed, ESPECIALLY if they didn’t punish you when they could have. Of course, if she had any sense she wouldn’t have done it in the first place….

    You can nurse in uniform, the sticking point is that when you’re in uniform you’re representing the military. While you’re nursing, you’re technically out of uniform because it’s not in proper order. With every uniform I can think of, if you’re in a private area it’d make the most sense to take off the blouse (button-down shirt thing) and lift the undershirt. The lady I saw in the BX didn’t do that, but she didn’t have a private place, either– did the indian-style seat, drape a blanket over thing. No idea how she managed it, looked normal enough I didn’t realize what was going on immediately and once I figured it out I didn’t look again.
    There just aren’t a lot of times when you’d have to nurse in uniform– when you pick your baby up from care, if you do some shopping on base after work, that sort of thing.

    And yes, there are military maternity clothes. They’re ugly as sin, but that covers most of the unique female uniforms. ^.^ No nursing outfits that I know of, you’re supposed to be back in normal uniform not too long after giving birth. (I can’t remember if it’s when maternity leave ends, or six weeks after that.) There are lots of reasons I didn’t want to be a military mom!

    The AP article says that Captain Keith Kosik mentioned they won’t be disciplined, you just can’t use the uniform to promote causes. If the ANG is like the Navy, though, the women are REALLY going to get hell from their co-workers, though, because they’re going to have to have ANOTHER training day about not using the blanking uniform when speaking publicly. In addition to the yearly blessed training. Yay, wasted time! Hopefully they get away with just doing whatever the zoomies call quarters, though.

  • I don’t know why so many people are so skiddish about breasts in the US in Europe and Brasil people aren’t constantly trying to make them big but are also not trying to worry to much about them because the men there think of Breasts as baby feeders.

  • The milk of human kindness has been withheld from a whole generation.

  • Jenny

    A delightful story!

    Such attitudes seem to be more widespread than one would imagine. Here in Scotland, we actually have the Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 that provides “it is an offence deliberately to prevent or stop a person in charge of a child from feeding milk to that child in a public place or on licensed premises.” “’Feeding’ includes— (a) breastfeeding; and (b) feeding from a bottle or other container.”

    Not only that, but the Act imposes a duty on the executive: “The Scottish Ministers shall make arrangements, to such extent as they consider necessary to meet all reasonable requirements, for the purpose of supporting and encouraging the breastfeeding of children by their mothers.”

    What is really shocking is that such legislation should be necessary.

  • Ever hear the expression, there’s a time and place for everything. The breasts are considered a private part of the woman’s body and should be used discreetly when nursing. A woman pulled out her breast in church and shoved it into her baby’s mouth. It was not discreet and very distracting. Sorry, but we don’t wear blinders in church and there was a “cry room” where she could have done this. It’s not that anything is wrong with breastfeeding, it’s a matter of propriety. Did you ever think that there may be young men battling issues of chastity or, conversely, dirty old men fantasizing about women’s bodies when they see this. Eliminating is also a natural function; will this be allowed in public as well?

  • Bearing, YES, exactly! You are SO more obvious with a blanket over the baby and mine would always tear it off only to leave me more exposed than I would be if I would have just discreetly nursed them.

    I don’t think we are doing anyone a service by leaving the room everytime a baby needs to nurse. We are treating nursing as being unnatural and as something to hide.

    This conversation, like the being excessively modest in dress one, can actually have the reverse effect. It can actually objectify women more and encourage wrong beliefs that breasts are purely sexual objects

  • I don’t think we are doing anyone a service by leaving the room everytime a baby needs to nurse. We are treating nursing as being unnatural and as something to hide.

    No, we’re treating publicly visible boobs as something to hide, out of recognition that the baby-food source also has a sexual aspect.

    Who cares if it’s obvious you’re nursing, so long as you’re not making a production of it?

  • First off, I was never breast fed because I was adopted at birth. As I understand it, it is possible to milk the breasts and store the milk in bottles for later use. Perhaps these can be used out in public and the actual breast feeding can be done in the privacy of one’s home. Also Michelle Duggar as successfully breast fed in public using a very special covering–not sure what’s it’s called or who makes them but I’m sure there is a way to find out.

  • “No, we’re treating publicly visible boobs as something to hide, out of recognition that the baby-food source also has a sexual aspect.”

    As Valentin pointed out, breasts having a “sexual aspect” is a (mostly uptight American) cultural thing and maybe it’s time to change that conotation by educating the misinformed public as to what breasts purposes are.

    “Who cares if it’s obvious you’re nursing, so long as you’re not making a production of it?”
    Exactly! So why would one leave the room or put on a “knocker blocker” when one can simply nurse discreetly.

    Iroy: Not all mothers can pump. I was one of them. Do you eat solely in the privacy of your own home?

  • “As I understand it, it is possible to milk the breasts and store the milk in bottles for later use. Perhaps these can be used out in public and the actual breast feeding can be done in the privacy of one’s home. Also Michelle Duggar as successfully breast fed in public using a very special covering.”

    I don’t want to be critical of this viewpoint but maybe I can offer something to help you understand. More and more, I’ve come to think more education is needed when it comes to breastfeeding (I see nothing wrong with that word. Breastfeeding, nursing, feeding — I often tell someone I’m feeding my baby). I think society needs to be more supportive and accepting of breastfeeding moms, especially those with little babies but, yes, todlers too, and I think we need more education for that.

    Specifically in regards to using bottles, yes, you can pump milk and store it in bottles, but I feel no woman should think she needs to pump and feed from a bottle when she is in public. First of all, some babies do not like bottles. I may not have tried much with my kids, especially my second, but I’ve even heard stories of babies who won’t take a bottle despite strong efforts. A mom shouldn’t have to force her baby to eat from a bottle when that baby wants to actually nurse. It’s different to take a bottle vs. to nurse. Second, a nursing baby is in control over how much he or she eats. The baby can nurse until done. With a bottle, either you have too much or not enough and it’s very easy to overfeed a baby with a bottle as they might just keep eatting even when full. Third, breastfeeding follows a rule of supply and demand. A mom’s body learns to make milk depending on how much the baby eats. If a mom has to use bottles when out in public, she’s kind of missing a feeding and possibly messing with her supply. Of course, to get milk for a bottle, she has to pump and that helps with supply, too, so maybe a moot point, but I kind of think there’s a difference. Not to say a woman can’t pump and feed baby a bottle when she’s not around, of course that’s great, but all the time when’s she’s out can’t be good. I’m sure some women do it because they feel more comfortable or think they need to because of what people will think, or it’s easier, but I just think that is sad.

    Nursing covers, that’s been mentioned a little. My first hated it. He’d scream and draw even more attention to us. And it is hard to see what you’re doing. I also think it’s a big sign that says hey, look at us over here. I’ve never bothered with my second.

    That being said, I also try to go someplace where we can be alone if possible. Sometimes I don’t like that because yes, it takes you away from the social gathering. Sometimes I like it because it’s nice to get away and have some quiet relaxing time. But I only do that because I have a very distracted nurser. I thought my first had some distraction problems, but I still could discreetly nurse him in church, on a park bench, at a restaurant, for the most part that I remember. It’s more of a scary thought with my second. We manage OK when we have to at playdates and I might try somewhere in public. Recently I fed him in the bathroom of a ballpark and I felt kind of uncomfortable there but was trying to be comfortable. I wish I could have been more comfortable to feed him in the stands because the bathroom also is not an ideal place, so super loud with all the flushing and water running and people coming and going. Like someone else said, I hope it is a practice thing and I’ll get better at it, too. I try my best to be discreet and I worry about it, but it’s what I have to do. It’s best for my baby. It’s best for me. I want to be respectful of people, but people also should not be so judgemental either. I’ve learned a lot through my experiences and I’ve done things differently that I thought I would (nurse an 18 month old? What? How wierd. I don’t think that now.) I’m in a rush to finish this up as my kids are up now but I hope I got some of my point across clearly.

  • As Valentin pointed out, breasts having a “sexual aspect” is a (mostly uptight American) cultural thing and maybe it’s time to change that conotation by educating the misinformed public as to what breasts purposes are.

    Yeah, because that is an incredibly polite reaction– wonderfully caring, and I’m generally swayed to a different way of thinking by people deliberately taking actions that are offensive to myself and the population at large. Including, for bonus points, those who DO support reasonable, polite breast feeding.

    FYI, turning feeding your kid into “educating” those “uptight” people who notice that breasts are sexual (I am not going to believe a random comment’s claim over what I already know) is making a production of it. Never mind if aspiring to become Europe in our social-sexual expectations is desirable.

    Michelle -
    neither of my girls like nursing covers, and it’s a booger to find one that would fit me, anyways. If there’s a nursing room, I’ll use that– just avoids distractions for the baby and discomfort for the adults, plus corrals the older kids. A blanket, though, can block line-of-sight if you can find a quiet corner, and a loose T-shirt does the rest. If there’s room, a stroller can strategically block sight, too.

    Iroy- besides the other problems, including how do you warm it up, some women’s milk doesn’t store well.

    There are a lot of tactics that you can use to make feeding your baby easy on everyone; some will work well for this woman but not for that, and even between kids it changes. There’s give and take involved, just like in any other human interaction.

  • I like the mother in the picture you put up. She has beautiful, long, red hair. :) Her child takes after her too.

  • I nursed three kiddos, each til they were two years old. I’ve nursed in every conceivable setting and circumstance, and I never once had any trouble from the folks around me. If you don’t make a big deal out of it, and you use discretion when baby is latching on, and you keep yourself from being exposed, there’s no reason a woman should be made to leave the room or the plane or the restaurant or the office or the bus or the theater or church or wherever!

    As to this: [2] No one posts pictures of changing poopy diapers.

    I have to disagree with the analogy. No one posts pictures of adults using the restroom either (that would be unthinkable!), but we happily take pictures of each other at mealtime and share them publicly. Eating is a great part of the human experience and a great way of bonding with friends and family. There is nothing shameful about a baby eating the way babies were designed to eat. It should not be treated like something to be embarrassed by. It’s not the same thing as a diaper change.

  • Christopher Michael says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 A.D. at 5:38pm
    I like the mother in the picture you put up. She has beautiful, long, red hair. Her child takes after her too.
    ..but she and her child do not have rational, immortal souls

  • Marg there is a difference between feeding your child during the mass and on the park bench. Further more not as many people consider breasts as private parts in Brasil where Men think of them as baby feeders not play things like certain cads would.

  • Foxfier I was just pointing out much it it seems so babyish for men to yearn for breasts in the US. Further more sexual and erotic are two distinct things a boy feeding from his mothers breast is doing something sexual but not erotic. Sexual has to do with the difference between Men and Women and Boys and Girls. Erotic has to do with love for somebody you might become one with or are one with in the circumstance of marriage.

  • Marriage and procreation seem pretty important in more than just a private way considering that someone is going to enter into society, your wife will enter your family and your parents will become grandparents.

  • Foxfier if someone is raised in a large family they generally are not afraid around large groups people especially when feeding from their mother.

  • Foxfier I agree that it is rude for someone to say that the US is uptight especially since I know that quite a bit of both women slightly lesser men in the USA are both perfectly chaste and lighthearted about such a topic.

  • I’m with Foxfier: you city folk are way too uptight. When I want to nurse li’l Baby Darryl Lee, I just untie my checked cotton halter top and let him go to town, no matter where we are – cornfield, barn, kitchen, Grandma’s house, the general store, or even on our twice a year trip to the big city.

    On our last trip, Darryl Lee was hungry while we were riding on that there subway train. There I was, big as life, top open, feeding him, didn’t give a hoot, and the lady across the aisle kept giving me funny looks. Finally I said to her, “what’s the matter, lady? Hain’t you never seen a Momma nursing her baby afore?”

    You know what she said to me? “Sure, lady. Just not while she’s spittin’ chawin’ terbacky!”

    Does she expect me to throw away a perfectly good plug just because my baby wants his lunch?

    I bet she expects me to try to hide what I’m doing from folks, too. “Dis-crete”, they call it. Discrete, heck. I can’t be bothered! These city folk are uptight, uptight, uptight! What’s good enough for the hogs back home to see, is good enough for them, the way I figger it!

  • Valentin-
    the very laws of Brazil suggest that they are, indeed, recognized as sexual. (I know various parts of Europe also recognize the female chest as sexual, but somehow that never matters when talking about “Europe” as a collective. The UK is most famous for it.)

    A baby nursing is not “sexual” in the normal course of things, and “sexual” encompasses “erotic” as well as simple sex differences. (I’m not linking dictionary.com for all of those, folks are capable of looking it up themselves.)

    Frankly, none of the insults offered do anything to excuse disregarding basic manners in regard to either men who struggle with temptation when faced with a woman’s naked chest, nor to people in general who are uncomfortable with acultural nudity.

  • Yes, categorizing Americans on a whole as uptight is wrong. My sincere apologies.
    I do believe, however, that those who are offended by a mother feeding her baby are certainly uptight.
    How do we expect breastfeeding to be the acceptable norm when women and men have never seen a mother feeding her baby. It’s a sad situation that breastfeeding is so taboo, that often, the first time a woman experiences breastfeeding is when she attempts at nursing her own baby. And we wonder why only 25% of US babies are breastfed at 6 months. http://kellymom.com/fun/trivia/bf-numbers/
    Right on, take this as another random comment. I’ll do the same.

  • I do believe, however, that those who are offended by a mother feeding her baby are certainly uptight.

    That’s not what offends most people– it’s flipping out a part of the body that is covered in polite society to do so, especially when it’s not needed. Accusing people of being against feeding a baby when they’re objecting to the things done in the process is flatly dishonest.

    I don’t wonder why not everyone nurses their babies past 6 months– besides lifestyle angles such as mom going back to work, look at the history. A dear friend discussed it with me and mentioned that doctors had scolded her and ordered her to use formula, because that was better for the baby. Her kids now have teenage kids, so it’s probable that those who are a bit older had mothers in a similar situation.

    Breastfeeding is not taboo, no matter how much modern martyers-in-their-own-minds want it to be. Women like that idiot in Target that staged a “nurse-in” because she was “harassed”– when the Target employees first offered her a more comfortable place to nurse than setting on the floor, and when she told them to just ignore what she was doing, treated her exactly like every other customer and asked if she needed anything every few minutes. That is their policy for all “guests.”

  • Uptight.

    Well, I’m uptight I guess. I don’t want to see strangers with significant dandruff brushing it away, or talking about it. I don’t want to hear about a stranger’s dandruff shampoo and how well it works. I find the sight of strangers brushing their hair, running their fingers through their hair in public – repellent (beyond a quick touch-up) I don’t want to see a close-up of a strangers’ eye infections or hear about treatment of or symptoms of eye infections, or eye surgery. I don’t want to see people putting on make-up or curling their eyelashes or tweezing their eyebrows. I’ve sat next to someone who was endlessly picking at tiny, barely visible pimples on her arms, and I had to get up and move. It was gross. I don’t want to see or hear about bad teeth. I don’t want to see or hear about peoples’ gum infections or gum surgery. That’s gross.

    Overhearing strangers’ public discussions of waxing or shaving is distasteful. As soon as the words “bikini area” or “pubic” are mentioned, I am out of there. Observing strangers publicly demonstrating how many inches of flab they may pinch – under the upper arm, or at the love-handle area is disgusting.

    Seeing strangers clip their nails in public is unpleasant – if more than just a quick snip snip to repair a break. Less so, but also unpleasant is the sight of public nail filing. I’ve heard of strangers clipping and filing their toenails in the subway that serves the area where I live. Stomach-churning . . . as is public scratching, public nose picking, tooth-picking, flossing (other than an extremely quick and discrete touch-up in an emergency)

    I don’t want to see PDAs. I don’t want to see or hear about strangers’ sex lives in public. I find the sight of couples making out on the subway excruciating. Get a room! An adult religion teacher was once sharing with his 10th grade students the Church’s teachings on what is and is not acceptable for a dating couple to indulge in, and he shared with the class the details of some of his own early forays into romantic experimentation when he was their age. Almost in unison, the class screamed: “ Eeewwwww-wwww-wwww! T-M-I!”

    T.M.I. Too much information. I don’t want to hear the details about your gastric bypass surgery, your facelift, your pelvic infection, your psoriasis, your strep throat, your gallbladder surgery. It’s OK to mention them, but to present the gory details that, as the kids say, is: “Eww-www!”

    I don’t mind being around people who eat politely, small bites, chew with their mouths closed, wipe their mouth when needed. I can’t stand to be around anyone chewing with their mouth open, spitting food back onto their plate, stuffing their mouths, having clumps of food smeared on their lips and chins, seeing particles clinging to mustache or beard hairs (excuse me, I think I just made myself nauseous.)

    A nursing Mom who retreats to a quiet corner (still out in public, though is fine) and stays covered while baby nurses is being a good Mom and also a considerate member of society.

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