Breastfeeding Flash Mob at the Mall: Would You Participate?

Mary Napoli, of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, organized what was supposed to be a peaceful breastfeeding flash mob at a local mall yesterday–only to have security shut down the event before it began. Napoli, one of 11 women who came to the event, had just sat down to begin breastfeeding her son when a security officer told her to stop, according to the Troy edition of Patch.com.

According to the report, Napoli asserted that the mall manager was objecting to breastfeeding out in the open, not just the flash mob. When she questioned the mall manager whether he allowed nursing in the mall, he replied:  “Not in public, we don’t.”

Edward Nakfoor, spokesperson for the Somerset Collection mall, said in a statement issued Sunday evening that the mall does allow breastfeeding, though it does not allow “demonstrating or protesting of any kind, as we are private property.”

(If the name Mary Napoli sounds familiar to you it’s because her controversial You Tube video went viral last month. Napoil claims her sons covered her living room in flour when she took a “five-minute bathroom break,” but some people insist the video is a hoax.)

In my opinion, women should be allowed to breastfeed wherever they see fit–but organizing a flash mob to make that point is misguided. Instead, just live your life and nurse your child when he’s hungry (if you’re nursing).  What do you think? Do you side with the moms who planned to participate, or the management who wouldn’t allow the “mob” to take place?

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  1. by Berit Thorkelson

    On December 19, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Interesting. My first thought: What a boring flash mob; basically just sitting around holding babies… let’s see some dancing, people! :) But seriously, “flash mob” with such purpose does seem to cross the line into “demonstration,” which I think is just fine as long as it’s held in the appropriate/legal place (*outside* the mall, perhaps?).

  2. by Julia

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I think it’s incredibly sad that some women even feel that they have to take this stand, and even more sad that some Jack@!! would say “Not in public, we don’t.” Didn’t his mother nurse him? I’m ashamed for his mother.

  3. by Jessica

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I think Mary Napoli needs to get a life. Who organizes a Breastfeeding Flash Mob? What a weirdo…

  4. by Monica

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    This “mob” is totally unnecessary. Breastfeeding in public is fine as long as it’s discreet. I don’t want to see your nipple whether it’s full of milk or not. I may be a prude and I don’t care. It makes me uncomfortable. I shouldn’t be forced to like it. I had no problems nursing discreetly when my son was nursing, I don’t see how other women do.

  5. by Hmmmmm

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I guess it depends on why they were doing it? Is because that Michigan judge kicked that breastfeeding mom out of his court even though she was covered? I would flash mob breast feed at that court house for sure!

    And if they don’t allow breastfeeding in public do they have a special breastfeeding room at that mall? Or do they expect moms to feed their babies in a gross mall public bathroom?

  6. by Morgan

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I think she is just trying to get attention. I have actually breastfed my daughter in this mall multiple times on benches and in the food court and never had an issue. Sounds like she was trying to make some sort of scene, which I would not expect the mall to be happy about, no matter what it was about.

  7. by Erika

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    That is kind of weird to do a “flash mob”. I am a proud breast feeder and if I NEED to do it in public I will. However, I don’t see the problem with going into a bathroom stall if it is available to nurse my baby. I prefer privacy, I don’t like perverts trying to sneak a peek.

  8. by Michelle

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    This is so stupid. I don’t like breastfeeding in public but if i have to I cover myself the entire time. No one is going to tell me that I can’t feed my baby. I think its ridiculous that people are so offended by this. HELLO? What do you think people did before formula was available? I would not participate in the flash mob but I understand why people are trying to bring this issue to the forfront.Its very simple, you don’t like it? Then look the other way please.

  9. by Annie

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Why would you want your boob hanging out in public anyway? I nursed and when my baby got hungry in public (IF I didn’t pump a bottle) I just went out in the car or in the bathroom or somewhere more private. I don’t want people watching me. Yeah, it’s wrong to expose yourself like that, cover up and feed! Not a big deal.

  10. by J Francis

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I understand that women want breastfeeding, both privately and in public, to be a more talked about issue, and I agree. However, rules are rules. If they choose to “demonstrate” on private property, and their rules don’t allow it, then suffer the consequences no matter what the cause is. I’m with the management on this one, even though I think women should be able to breast feed (tastefully – as in covered up) wherever they are at a moment’s notice.

  11. by JMH

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Why were they organizing the flash mob? Did someone tell them they couldn’t nurse in public previously? Or were they just stating a point that didn’t need to be stated? Either way, I am uncomfortable nursing in public and always bring a manual pump and a pre-pumped bottle for my daughter when we go out. I have no problem seeing other woman do it, but I, myself, do not like it.

  12. by kristy

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    this is a natural part of life and should be shared between mother and child, but i don’t want to see it and i don’t want my 9 year old to have to cover his eyes just to go out in public!!! women that’s why we have feeding rooms in malls now days KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON!!! this is called being decent.

  13. by Asrar

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    If you breastfeed your child and happen to go out in public, then you should be able to feed your child when he is hungry just like any one would feed their child who doesn’t breastfeed. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be an exception. People who don’t like it need to learn to lower their gaze. I am sure the women including my self would cover if I must breastfeed. It isn’t like I am walking around naked! Furthermore, this usually last no longer than 5 minutes. So people need to stop the hate. Breastfeeding should be encouraged at all times because it is one of our natural cures of many illnesses. Do not take that for granted!

  14. by Katie

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Breastfeeding in public while covered up & being discreet is one thing, but a flash mob ummm NO! If you are at a mall, which I have been in public retail stores, go into a fitting room. Even when I am home I don’t cover up in front of my husband & kids, but I do when company I am comfortable with. If I am at someone’s house I will go in a separate room & cover up. You don’t have to announce to the world you are breastfeeding.

  15. by Michelle

    On December 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I remember having to breastfeed at a restraunt when my baby was really little and I was SO discreet about it, but I still got a ridiculous amount of stares. I was in a booth and my husband helped cover me, I mean really for all people knew I was holding my baby, it’s a little strange to me that people are expected to go to the bathroom…I’m sorry…how bout I take your salad and prepare it in the bathroom as well…
    Now a flash mob……maybe that’s a little too far…but I don’t live in Michigan, so maybe it’s a real issue there…

  16. by Jess

    On December 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    First of all i now too believe that youtube video was a hoax cuz shes obviously tryin to get whatever attn she can. But on the note of breastfeeding…seems silly to want to organize a Flashmob. I whole-heartedly agree any woman should b able to breastfeed when/wherever she pleases. Dont know that a bunch of women with babies eatin would really make a point though…idk…

  17. by Tiffiny

    On December 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    That is so stupid, I live 10 minutes from that mall and I have seen women nursing inside the mall almost every time I have visited. Yes the mall does have nursing rooms available but I have never seen a security officer requiring someone to use them. I am so sick of everyone making a big deal out of nursing in public. Feed you baby whatever way works for you.

  18. by deborah

    On December 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    What bothers me is that breastfeeding in public is such a big deal, but women can go around (in the summertime, especially) wearing very little and that is perfectly accepted. Go figure! I, also, believe in breastfeeding discreetly and I don’t know that I agree with making a big scene just to prove a point about breastfeeding..

  19. by Lily schey

    On December 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Flash mobs are not protests. If moms want to meet in the food court to have lunch together, they can. If they want to meet in the mall’s play area, they can. If they all happen to meet, and all decide to breast feed at the same time, how is that different from eating in the food court at te same time? Or all going to the rest room at the same time? Laws allow women to breast feed where ever they are allowed to be with their child, be it the mall, food court, movie theatre, grocery store, etc.

    I participated in the breast feeding world record last spring, at the mall. I’d do it again.

  20. by Invi

    On December 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Management. It is private property. There is no sense in protesting there.
    Even if they didn’t allow breastfeeding there, it’s the owner’s decision. You have no right to be there at all if the people in charge of the property say otherwise, regardless of the reason.

  21. by elizabeth

    On December 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    first off nursing in public is challenging. expecially when your baby gets older and takes your coverup off and who could blame them. i wouldnt want to eat under a hot blanket either. 2nd i am not here to worry about who I make uncomfortable. my priority is my child. I am not one to go hide. but i have nursed all four of my kids discretly and if you are constanly worried about someone looking or other things you are going to miss out on just enjoying your baby. i would never do a flash mob even though i am a big advicate on BF bc for someone to do that is just bitter and angry. we just need to get over it and move on. just know for the next time what to do or not to do.

  22. by Jennifer Z.

    On December 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Flashmob: no. It’s counterproductive. Breastfeeding: Yes indeed! But it’s not hard to carry a nursing cover. I’m a proud mother of a breastfed baby, but I will not flaunt it. Especially on a busy day when I need to be out and about, that 20-30 minutes is a time to connect with my baby that no one else gets to experience.

  23. by Sara W.

    On December 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    The ignorance in these comments is shocking. I nurse my toddler. I will NOT use a cover, because we don’t like them. I will NOT go to the filthy bathroom to do it. If you don’t ever want your 9 year old to see normal human behavior like nursing, keep him home. If you don’t like to see it yourself, walk around with a cover over YOUR head. Better yet, don’t look! That said, I think that this woman was doing this for the wrong reasons. If they harassed a nursing mom for feeding her navy normally, I’d be more upset.

  24. by Rob Lancaster

    On December 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Any mom out there that wants to breast feed should be able to do that. Besides, I think it is hot! Any mom wants to hit me up, please do so!!

  25. by Aitak

    On December 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I’m a breastfeed mom and I would never participated on this because I believe that what make a human diferent from animal is that we cover ourselfs we wear clothes we have privet sex and when we r nursing we also cover ourselfs I like privecy and u don’t wanna see anybody boob hanging out I don’t wanna have to explain to my teen son that he should not look ( of course he will look at this age anything turn to his attention ) u kidding me

  26. by Heidi

    On December 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    That mall manager should be fired. There is nothing obscene or immodest about breastfeeding. I don’t care to nitpick over HOW a woman is breastfeeding or what type of cover-up she is using, it is just NOT obscene; a mother should be free to nurse her baby wherever and whenever the baby needs to nurse! Would I participate in the falsh mob? Probably not, but that has more to do with my adversion to malls.

  27. by Christy

    On December 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I think every mom should have the option of breast feeding her child in public. Just because one person is offended, doesnt give ANYONE the right to say a mom cant provide the nourishment of her choice to her child. I think its ridiculous to even think such a thing. Yes, I would most deff. participate in a flash mob to breast feed,,, I would have my best friend, my boob toob cover up with me of course… If it offends you or your children, dont look,, its as easy as that.,, dont look!

  28. by Lauren

    On December 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Breastfeeding is fine in public, it shouldn’t be looked down upon. It’s natural and better for your baby then formula. I do it, but I wear prefer to wear a cover. Now, organizing a flash mob is a little over the top–

  29. by Jen

    On December 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I can’t imagine that this is even an issue. Mother’s have the right to feed their babies anywhere and everywhere. I also agree about being tasteful and if you carry a baby blanket it’s so easy to cover up people hardly know what your doing. A flash mob sounds really tacky. I am still currently breast feeding my 8 month old and if anyone ever came up to be and said “not here” they would be hearing from my attorney ;)

  30. by Sarah F

    On December 19, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Anyone’s opinion is moot, in most states anyway. Whether the mall manager approves or not, most states have LAWS protecting nursing mothers in any place. Any place. And the laws do not require them to “do so discreetly”. Those who say that they approve “if the mother is being discreet” are not really approving. I can be old fashioned or “prude” or whatever; a woman wearing very skimpy clothing may not share my choice in dress and it may even make me uncomfortable, but it is my responsibility to make decisions that fit me, not others.
    If it bothers you, don’t look. End of story.

  31. by summer h.

    On December 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Umm, Sarah W. , sex is natural, normal human behavior. Would you do that in public? I think not. Any public nudity just isn’t acceptable. Some things should be kept private. Especially when undressing or exposing certain body parts is involved. Sorry dear, that’s just commom sense. I too am a breastfeeding mother BTW.

  32. by T Spicer

    On December 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I have breast fed my for children in malls, restaurants etc. I believe breast feeding is best if it works for you and no I don’t think eating in a bathroom is clean. I am also a NICU nurse and know that breast milk saves lives of our sic/premature babies. BUT I don’t condone exhibitionism and THAT is what makes people uncomfortable. I once walked in to a mall a woman was nursing her baby facing the entrance despite there being other seats open for her to choose. What I actualy had a problem with was she was nursing ONE baby, yet had her entire top up with both breasts out. She wasn’t nursing to meet the needs of her baby. She was exposing herself to meet some other “need” she had for attention.
    Come on, for crying out loud. Feed your baby in a clean spot and try not to expose yourself. I get that things happen. Yes, I have had a baby or two knock the blanket off, but I replaced it and went on. I did not just walk around exposed.

  33. by Sara W.

    On December 19, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Summer H., really? It’s not essential to an adult’s health to have sex whenever, wherever. It IS essential to a baby’s health to nurse whenever, wherever. Comparing sex and breastfeeding is especially ignorant. Just because you’re a breastfeeding mom doesn’t make you smart. I hope you do stay home, so you don’t set us back even further. Thanks, and my name is Sara.

  34. by Katelyn McKim

    On December 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I completely agree Sarah. This is ridicolous that people would compare sex to Breastfeeding. Formula is only a century old Breast milk over thousands of years. I’m a mother of two and i will breastfeed my daughter where ever and whenever i will not be sorry if you or your teenage son or your daughter see me feeding my daughter. i dont pull my boobies out for everyone to see but im not going to use a blanket to cover my child. And im not sorry if i offend your sensibilities.

  35. by SArah

    On December 19, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    For those that say, use a cover and that you can breastfeed wherever, just stop trying to draw attention to yourself. Thats exactly what a cover or blanket does. Everyone knows you are breastfeeding under there. duh. You can hardly tell a mom is breastfeeding when baby is just being held. Its not like a whole boob has to be hanging out for the baby to nurse. Using a cover just creates more people looking at you.

  36. by Sara W.

    On December 19, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Exactly, Katelyn and Sarah! What do these people think that uncovered nursing looks like?!?!?! When everyone I know does it, it looks like a baby’s head near my chest. You can’t see a THING unless you’re so close to me you’re being creepy!!

  37. by heather

    On December 20, 2011 at 2:24 am

    i think the thing people are misunderstanding here is “flash mob”. it doesnt mean that they flash everyone their breasts. its like the dance flash mobs. at an exact certain time everyone breaks out nursing (or dancing) it had nothing to do with getting naked. though i didnt see the point in doing this at this mall when nothing prompted it, it was all just in fun. and for those people who say breastfeeding in public discreetly is ok need to stop putting limitations on it. breastfeeding in public is ok if done however the hell that mother feels comfortable. get over yourself. explain to your kids that a mom is feeding her baby. stop thinking your child is going to associate it with sex. using words like discreet are counterproductive. what i think is discreet someone else may not think so. my daughter doesnt like a cover over her head but my breast is never exposed. thats my choice as i dont feel comfortable with anyone seeing it. if a mom chose to expose it all good for her. if she didnt feel comfortable and went somewhere private great. if she prefers using a blanket thats also fine. but if you dont like the way i choose you can use your neck. thats what gave it to you for.

  38. by Rachael

    On December 24, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I don’t think I would. I’m pro breasfeeding, I BF’d both my children (in public) and I understand the sentiment behind the idea, but I’m not entirely sure a flash mob ‘normalises’ it. Better would be women just doing their thing and breastfeeding and the government and health agencies legislating to protect breastfeeding mums (in areas they don’t) and educating the public and businesses.

  39. by Misti

    On January 15, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I would feel uncomfortable being out in public and seeing someone’s breast exposed – and I esp. wouldn’t want my older son seeing that. I’m definitely pro-breastfeeding (and still nursing my second-born), but I also want to be respectful of others when I nurse in public. When I do, I find a dressing room or use a nursing cover. Is the cover annoying? Yeah, it can be, but I don’t want my “right” to nurse in public to make others’ uncomfortable, nor do I want to give a peep show. If someone were doing something that made me uncomfortable, and they could make small adjustments, I would appreciate it. So, using a cover or going to a dressing room is worth it to me. “Do unto others…”

  40. by Leslie

    On April 9, 2012 at 11:07 am

    She sounds like another self righteous mama. Motherhood is a privelage, not something that makes you better than everyone else on your high horse. I am an expectant mother and do not understand those moms who want to flash their boobs in public. It’s not right breastfeeding or not. Whatever happened to common decency and respect for another? Next will there be men campaigning for it to be socially acceptable for them to fart in public because hey it’s a natural occurence?