Go to Myspace, and click on some random profiles. Chances are, you’ll come across some things that could be considered offensive: Pamela Anderson clad in nothing but a thong, a girl who can’t be over sixteen in a provocative pose, graphics that look like road signs showing stick figures in various positions performing sex acts, a mother feeding her baby.
Wait a minute-what did I just say? A mother feeding her baby? Actually, that’s the one thing I listed that you probably won’t see, because the people who are in charge of deciding what’s offensive on Myspace are deleting photos of breastfeeding infants, in the name of decency.
Lisa Marie Gittings of Asheville, NC had her photos removed without any explanation. As she was nursing her eight-month-old son, her three-year-old snapped a picture. In support of the breastfeeding community, Lisa Marie posted the picture on her Myspace page. I didn’t see the picture myself, because every time she reloads them, Myspace removes them, but I can tell you from my own experience in nursing, far less of the breast is exposed during breastfeeding than in some of the photos I’ve seen on Myspace. When a baby nurses, his head covers almost the entire breast. If you are large-busted, you might show as much skin as you would in a modest two-piece bathing suit. Not only is Lisa Marie a mother trying to feed her child in the healthiest way possible; she also offers professional breastfeeding support to new mothers, in an attempt to ensure that more babies in the US are as healthy as possible. Lisa Marie wrote to the administration at Myspace asking for an explanation of why her photos were removed, but hasn’t heard back, as of this writing. She says, “I feel that by banning these images, Myspace is telling young mothers that breastfeeding is an unnatural and disgusting act, and therefore they are not promoting the health of children and families…they are violating our rights by censoring these family photos.”
Myspace is used by countless teens and young adults, so the administrators may not be too concerned about a group of moms who are annoyed about their pictures being removed. It’s not just a bunch of housewives who are up in arms, though. My sister, Emily, is a typical Myspace user: sixteen years old, up on all the trends in music and fashion, with a large group of Myspace friends. In her opinion, “Myspace is being stupid. You can’t even see the boob when you’re breastfeeding. I’d rather see that than all the naked girls you see all over Myspace. It’s just a kid being fed; what’s the big deal?” My own two teenage children echo that sentiment, as do all the adults I spoke to about it today.
Breastfeeding is not offensive. There is nothing remotely sexual or inappropriate about the act of a mother feeding her child. A breastfeeding mother is using her body for precisely what it was made for-breasts are made for nurturing children. It is a bonding experience and the healthiest way to nourish your child. If someone chooses to impose their own deviant thoughts on what is a very natural and family-friendly act, that person should not be in charge of deciding what is and isn’t “appropriate”, especially in a forum where so many images that are blatantly sexual are displayed without repercussion. This is not just an act of censorship; it is discrimination against women who choose to share photos of a special time in their lives with their children. Breastfeeding is not illegal in this country, and yet Myspace is making it their mission to penalize those who do it, and perpetuate the notion that breasts exist solely for sexual pleasure.
Lisa Marie Gittings is not the first woman to have photos of her feeding baby removed from Myspace; they have done this to several other women across the country. A petition has been started to try and convince Myspace to come to their senses and stop the double standard that allows photos of silicone-filled breasts, but not milk-filled ones.