This week, the hashtag “#BoobsForBernie” trended on Twitter for good reason. Senator Bernie Sanders is now being hailed as an active voice for breastfeeding mothers and a champion of the “Free the Nipple” movement.
At a recent rally in Cleveland for Sen. Sanders, a mom openly breastfed her child. The Democratic presidential hopeful in the 2016 Elections offered a gesture that sealed his support for those against sexist double-standards: he thanked the doting mother, according to a Good report.
On Thursday, Barberton, Ohio, resident, Elle Bradford — with her 6-month-old daughter in tow — joined throngs of other Bernie Sanders supporters in Cleveland. In the middle of the Sanders rally, baby Harper signaled that she was hungry, and her mom obliged. The pair was in the second row of the venue, only a short distance away from Sanders.
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) March 3, 2016
Right then and there, the woman began breastfeeding the infant. A snap of the woman, taken by a Reuters photographer, and her breastfed child circulated on the internet after the event. Bradford spoke to reporters from ABC local affiliate News Net 5 about her baby “feeling the Bern.”
“There is no, ‘I’m feeding you in 10 minutes.’ It’s ‘I’m feeding you right here, right now, or you’re screaming,'”
The moment was special for the nursing mother, according to Lee Bradford, Elle’s mom. She said her daughter’s 3-year-old son was born with a hole in his heart. The birth defect caused doctors to insert a tube to feed the child, making it impossible for his mom to breastfeed.
“So this being her last baby, she was determined to do the breastfeeding and do it well.”
Later, Bernie and his wife, Jane Sanders, met with the breastfeeding mom. They both thanked her for being a mother. The senator also took to social media and continued his show of gratitude.
As a society, we should never stigmatize women for breastfeeding in public. https://t.co/I08wzGrdWH
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 3, 2016
According to Bradford in a Facebook post, comments about the viral picture have been positive for the most part.
“After the rally, Bernie and Jane O’Meara Sanders both thanked me for doing what mothers do and taking care of my daughter when she needed her mom even if that meant nursing in public!
“I’m shocked. And pleasantly surprised.”
The issue of breastfeeding in public is a hot-button issue in mainstream America. Although many are split, arguably, there is a trend towards support. Moreover, like Sanders, other Progressives are advocating for a mother’s parenting rights.
Lina Esco, activist and film producer, led an effort to uphold the desires of nursing moms to breastfeed their children when and wherever they see fit. Esco is credited with starting the FTN movement in 2012.
Her effort compelled social media giants like Facebook to lift bans on breastfeeding pictures. She expressed her angst about the sexist standards in a Huffington Post story.
“Why can you show public beheadings from Saudi Arabia on Facebook, but not a nipple? Why can you sell guns on Instagram, but yet they will suspend your account for posting the most natural part of a woman’s body?”
Many women face harsh criticism from social media. The consensus is centered on the so-called “offensive” nature of breastfeeding in public settings or posting images of same in celebration of a woman’s freedom. Bradford said she’s received some hate mail for the act.
“Honestly, I’ve cried three times already from some of the hateful messages I’ve received, telling me my daughter should be taken or that I’m just an uneducated lowlife hick.”
There are valid arguments on both sides, based on social norms. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC) says the number of breastfed babies are rising.
“In fact, 79% of babies born in 2011 were breastfed. Southern states had lower rates of breastfeeding than the national average, coming in at 65%. But states like California, Oregon, Washington had breastfeeding rates above 90%,” CNN wrote.
Arguably, one thing is clear: the Ohio mom is definitely Team Bernie.
[AP Photo/Al Goldis]