Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shame On: Rachel Ray

 We are behind the days of thinking breastfeeding needs "hidden."

The breastfeeding debate drives me nuts, it really does. Not because I hear different information or new points of view, but because I sit in disbelief that the argument still exists. Breast vs. Bottle? Really? They are different - formula is well, a plan, a blueprint (a 'formula' if you will) by scientists, that tries to copy breastmilk. But it can't - and it doesn't.

Every time I see a new formula commercial that says new and improved! now more like breastmilk! I think, huh. So all those babies that drank the old formula had an ingredient missing. That's sad. I wonder if other people watching the same commercials think, great! Now formula has more stuff in it! I am not being silly when I say the whole argument baffles me. I cannot wrap the idea that formula is better than breastmilk around my brain, so I never really engage in such arguments. I sit there dumbfounded.

Plus, instead of debating breast vs. bottle I think moms' time would be better served working to battle the trials and misconceptions moms face when trying to breastfeed. I think we should stop unethical practices by formula companies. I think we should work to get milk banks opened. I also think that the Nursing In Public (NIP) movement is important and comes at the right time. When others see breastfeeding as the norm and as something done everywhere, it becomes the norm. The secrecy surrounding it is gone.

I know some mothers cannot breastfeed. The public needs educated, and it angers me when I see a person with a large pulpit making thoughtless statements. 

The biggest argument against NIP is normally that NIP makes other people uncomfortable, which is where this post is headed. When I opened my Facebook today, I saw a Best for Babes post about a Rachel Ray show. An audience member asked 'Bethenny' (the show's guest) a question. That question and the conversation follows:

 Shea:  “I’m expecting my second child and strongly thinking of breastfeeding.   What are your rules for public breastfeeding, like where is it appropriate?”
Bethenny:  “I think, unless you are Pamela Anderson, you shouldn’t be showing anyone your breasts besides your husband and your baby.”
Rachael Ray:  “Exactly.”
Bethenny:  “I really do. I think you should find a corner, or there is always a back room, I just think it makes other people uncomfortable.   When you are a mother you think everyone is ‘in on’ what you’re ‘in on’, [. . .] but they’re not.  Because I didn’t know anything about [breastfeeding] until I was pregnant and I was sensitive to the fact that it would have flipped me out.  So I think, just keep it private.  But definitely breastfeed and do things your own way,  but in that one way, I would keep it a little bit private. Whipping out your boob at the dinner table is a good diet tip for everyone else. 

The idea that two women -Bethenny and Rachel Ray - use a television show to encourage hiding while breastfeeding astounds me. It is incredibly outdated and hypocritical of a television show host who discusses healthy eating and overall life styles to say "exactly" when discussing why women should cover up while breastfeeding.

I was mad when I read the article today. I don't watch Rachel Ray regularly and now that I have a low opinion of her show's content, I probably won't again. I still emailed the show's producers, and encourage you to do the same: Here is part of my letter, and you may use all or portions of it:

Breastfeeding is recommended by the WHO to continue for two years into the child's life. Naturally, women will be out in public for those two years, and even more naturally, she should not have to hide in a corner.

I expect Rachel Ray (and other public figures who regularly give health advice) to promote breastfeeding, not shun it. She should apologize, at the very least. I would prefer that she host a show on breastfeeding, and bring in experts to explain the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby, tips to successful breastfeeding, and more importantly, why it is absolutely legal to breastfeed in public.

Please consider making amends with a large audience group which this thoughtless comment offended.

I truly believe, loyal blog readers, that we must tell those in the public we do not appreciate such narrow-minded comments. Shame on you, Rachel Ray for telling that large audience that your reach daily to cover up while nursing their babies.

Now go write that email.

Photo Credit: Every Stock Photo