Told She Couldn’t Breastfeed In a Store, This Mom Strikes a Pose to Lay the Smackdown on Double Standards

Tennessee mom Wittney Hale has been nursing her daughter for her entire 18 months of life, and she’s used to feeding her whenever and wherever she needs to eat. She’s never had a problem nursing in public, so she was shocked when she had a bad experience shopping recently at a Dillard’s in Chattanooga. In a post on Dillard’s Facebook page, Hale explains what happened—and makes a HUGE point about the store’s double standards. She says:

wittney hope
Photo: Wittney Hope via Facebook

This afternoon while shopping in your store, (Hamilton Place- Chattanooga) my daughter got really fussy. I searched for a quiet secluded area to nurse my child. When I found a place I asked if it was okay for her to eat here. The employee at customer service nodded. I then began to nurse my child. I didn’t use a cover up (I did that in the pic to prove the irony) I discreetly pulled my shirt down and her head covered me up. The same lady then told me I could not “do that” here. She told me I would need to go to the restroom. I was completely shocked as I have never had anyone comment on me breastfeeding in the whole 18 months I have been nursing. Yet alone, another woman, possibly a mother herself. I repeated her to make sure I understood. Annoyed, she began to tell me the directions to the restroom again.. (Down the hall, take the elevator, then around the corner) I’m sure my hungry child would understand that we have to take a journey to somewhere more secluded where she can eat.. NOT. I immediately went and asked for the manager so I could file a formal complaint (which I did online) As we were leaving the store I passed by this advertisement for bras. I mean seriously the lady’s face is not even in this. Why is it acceptable for a giant picture of BOOBS to be on the wall but I can not feed my child?

P*ssed off Mommy who will never be shopping at Dillards again.

I must say that I think Hale makes a great point here. At any mall, you are most likely going to see photos just like the one she posted above (and let’s be honest, way worse if they have a Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s of Hollywood store). How is breastfeeding any WORSE than that? Hale says she was discreet and her child’s head fully covered her up. Breastfeeding is NOT sexual—but that photo sure is.

Thankfully, Dillard’s responded to Hale quickly, and she was later able to post this update:

EDIT: Thank you all for your support. Dillards has issued an apology and I do think it is safe to say no other woman will be asked to nurse in the restroom while at Hamilton place mall. I am completely shocked at how quickly this post has spread. I am thankful it is bringing attention to the breastfeeding laws in TN.”

Unfortunately, though Hale’s post received a LOT of support, it also received some negative comments from your typical Internet HATERS. She addressed that as well, saying:

…however, I am saddened by the hate and the uneducated comments. Some are suggesting a [sic] sought out the employee only to cause trouble. I assure you that was not the case. The employee greeted me so I politely responded. I’m not sure why any mother would purposely want to draw attention to themselves by nursing… The thought that I would prefer to go out in public ONLY to feed my 18 month old is a little far fetched. My girl needs my milk as it is her main (sometimes only) nutrition. For anyone who says she is too old to nurse– strongly disagrees with you. Believe me, the only motive was to feed my baby so I could get on with my day. She doesn’t nurse with a cover up, she won’t. I used the pic to prove the irony. I understand that not everyone gets it. That’s fine. Many have bashed me as a mother and that is okay. They don’t know me or my motives. One of the most powerful things I have learned from this is how important it is to teach my daughter love and kindness. Those 2 traits are becoming rare and it is evident in the comments.

I love her last statement “One of the most powerful things I have learned from this is how important it is to teach my daughter love and kindness.” That is so, so true into today’s world—especially when you get get on the Internet and be mean to a total stranger while hiding behind your computer.

Thanks to Hale for standing up for nursing moms—and for reminding us all how important kindness is, too.

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.