Our bare breasts have been awfully newsworthy these days, and for that we can thank two different, but related, campaigns: #FreetheNipple (which has been buoyed by Scout Willis, a documentary and Iceland) and #NormalizeBreastfeeding (which counts Alyssa Milano, Extra's Terri Seymour and model-mom Nicole Trunfio among its high-profile fans).
But before the #brelfies and fashion spreads, there was Vanessa Simmons, a San Diego-based photographer and mom of three who wanted to remove the stigma of breastfeeding in public. So last June, she began #NormalizeBreastfeeding, a now international movement that encourages women share their stories, offer and receive encouragement, and ask questions.
Simmons' pet project received a major boost in November, when Milano infamously posted a gorgeous black-and-white breastfeeding selfie that spawned its own mini-movement. (It was the first time I had heard of #normalizebreastfeeding.) But she recently cemented the cause's place in the spotlight by applying for—and receiving—an official day of recognition from San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulcone. Now, June 27 is the International Day to Normalize Breastfeeding. Simmons chose that particular day because it was the day she founded her campaign, plus it was available on the list of "International Days" recognized by the United Nations.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. In fact, other states have hopped on the pro-public breastfeeding bandwagon: The mayors of Houston, Texas and Kansas City, Mo., issued similar proclamations, and supporters from Mobile, Ala., to Sterling Heights, Mich., staged local events.
The push to make public nursing more acceptable couldn't come at a better time, as moms continue to be kicked out of stores, shuttled into grimy bathrooms, and shamed on social media, all because their baby was hungry and—gasp!—they didn't cover up. Though there have been some high-profile signs of acceptance (thank you, Pope Francis), more needs to happen before mamas around the world are able to nurse their babies anywhere, anytime without fretting about accidentally flashing some top boob. Hopefully, this International Day to Normalize Breastfeeding is the next step to help get us there!
Don't forget to sign up to receive our free Parents Daily Baby newsletter!
Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
Image of breastfeeding mom courtesy of Shutterstock