Brei Theisen headed to her local pool in Wood River, Illinois, last Thursday expecting to take a swim and beat the heat with her 14-month-old daughter; but, after a manager asked her to "breastfeed discreetly," the 23-year-old mom set out on a mission to teach other women about their rights.
"I breastfeed at this pool all the time with no problem," she told Yahoo Beauty, also noting that in the state of Illinois, women can breastfeed wherever they please. Theisen added, "Suddenly the manager approaches me and says, 'I need you to be more discreet because you're offending other people, and I can't allow that to happen.'"
Instead of packing up her swim bag and heading out, Theisen shot back with the perfect response.
"I told him, 'I'm not going to cover my daughter's head in 90-degree weather," she said. "Should the people at the food court also cover up?"
Boom! Honestly, it's incredible that people are still so offended and shocked by one of the most natural practices. I know it's been said a million times, but come on, people, you have to know that breasts aren't just there to look pretty in lacy lingerie.
The benefits of breastfeeding a child are well-documented and supported by groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics. But despite the research and the fact that breastfeeding in public is legal in 49 states — get on board, Idaho! — encounters like Theisen's are not uncommon.
In addition to the pain that can sometimes accompany breastfeeding, mothers have to worry about dealing with strangers commenting on when, how, and where they should be able to feed their children. This behavior has to stop. No one should feel like their child should go hungry just to please someone who's uncomfortable with seeing a little flesh (because, that's what it is).
If businesses want to continue shaming mothers for nursing, they're going to have to be prepared for the consequences.
After her disheartening interaction with the Wood River Aquatic Center, Theisen told Yahoo that she isn't likely to return. Since then, the center released a statement to St. Louis station Fox2Now saying it will henceforth better train staff members.
"Our manager and staff have been fully briefed on the law and will incorporate the law into our training for all employees immediately," the statement read. "We apologise to the mother and child for any inconvenience we may have caused them."
So, go forth, mothers, and feed your young as you please, no matter what the haters say.