Karina Gomez isn't the first mom shamed for breastfeeding in public, but hopefully she's one of the last.
Change isn't easy. It's slow, it's tedious. It comes in dribs and drabs, in small steps and occasional setbacks. Case in point: breastfeeding in public. Yesterday, I wrote about a group of 10 active soldiers who volunteered to be photographed in uniform nursing their babies. Such a photo would have been unheard of in previous years, but in this age of #brelfies and airport nursing pods, it was possible -- and impassioned mothers seized the opportunity.
But then, a setback. A few days ago, Karina Gomez was shopping with daughter Katalina Maria in her local Marshalls store. The little girl was hungry, so Gomez asked to breastfeed in one of the dressing rooms. Instead, a store employee scuttled her to bathroom, where she ended up feeding while hovering above a public toilet. Though she's hardly the first mom to nurse in such gross conditions, she was determined to stand up for her rights.
Gomez snapped a black and white selfie that showed her cradling baby Katalina in the bathroom stall. She's sitting on the commode, her adorable baby in her arms, the box for used sanitary napkins just behind her. Frankly, it's an uncomfortable image to see and one that fires up this former nursing mama.
Which was precisely the point. Gomez posted the photo on Facebook, writing, "What a way to treat breastfeeding customers, shaming them for breastfeeding, making them feel embarrassed that you need to feed your child. I am angry, upset, but more so humiliated. My rights have been violated. Please share to get the word out!"
The simple but heartbreaking black and white snap might as well have been the shot heard around the breastfeeding world. Two dozen breastfeeding moms assembled on Monday for an hour-long nurse-in at the Portland Marshalls. And support continues to grow online. As of this writing, Gomez's post has nearly 30,000 likes, 26,000 shares, and lots of comments. One was an apology from Marshalls, asking the fed-up mom to contact customer service. Store reps also said there's a policy in place that allows breastfeeding moms to nurse anywhere they want. "We have looked into this matter and regret that it may not have been followed in this instance," they wrote. "We apologize for any inconvenience in this matter."
Whether that apology is enough remains to be seen.
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+.
Establishing a Breastfeeding Routine