Breastfeeding Shaming Is Even Worse When It’s From Someone You Know

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Kelly Stanley

A mom shares her story of being shamed for breastfeeding in public — by her own family

It’s awful when a stranger shames a mom for breastfeeding in public, but sadly, not unusual. We hear stories all the time about women being told to cover up, leave the room or “just make a bottle” all in the name of making perfect strangers comfortable. But what about when the shaming is coming from someone you know?

That’s exactly what happened to a mom who went viral for her Instagram post describing a situation where the person making her feel terrible for breastfeeding was a member of her own family.

Kelly Stanley took to Instagram last week after a dinner with family left her feeling angry and upset. Stanley told Scary Mommy that the people she’s referring to in her Instagram post are her parents.

Stanley explains that during dinner, her 9-month-old daughter Maya was hungry. So, she did what any breastfeeding mother would do; she fed her child. “She needed to nurse, so of course I pull my shirt down to feed and comfort her. Someone at the dinner table then grabs one of those cloth napkins and tries to toss it over me.”

The napkin tosser was her father. She recounts, “I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was trying to cover me. We were at Bonefish, and apparently that is too “nice” of a restaurant to nurse a baby uncovered.”

Stanley explains that she wasn’t exactly shy in her reaction to her father’s “suggestion” saying, “I wish I could say I was polite and respectful about the situation. Actually, I lied. I don’t wish that. I went off on him and I’m glad I did.”

Images via Kelly Stanley

She calls the gesture “humiliating” saying, “no woman should ever feel like she is being inappropriate or immodest by feeding her baby, anywhere, ever.”


She told her father, “Breastfeeding is NOT indecent exposure. It’s not inviting men to gawk at my breasts. EVEN IF GOD FORBID THE BABY UNLATCHES AND THEY SEE MY BARE NIPPLE.” And as far as those who blast moms that nurse in public saying they’re just looking for attention or trying to get people to see their breasts, Stanley says, “No, I’d rather not pull my shirt down in a public place or a nice restaurant. I’d rather people NOT see my stretch marked breast or scratched nipples. But you know what? We can’t sit here and tout that breast is best and then have a fit about how inappropriate it is to feed a baby in public.”

She also mentions what any nursing mom knows — that tons of babies don’t like being covered up and will actively fight against it, so why even bother? To make someone else feel better?

Apparently, that’s what her parents thought.

“They (her parents) continued to say that I needed to be considerate of those who might be offended (men who sexualize breastfeeding )and I’m over here thinking it’s the men who should be considerate and not sexualize breastfeeding.”

Stanley tells Scary Mommy that her father hasn’t changed his stance on nursing on public since her post went viral and still believes a woman should cover up or go somewhere private to breastfeed. However, she tells us he understands her position and accepts it. But that doesn’t mean his admonishing her at the restaurant wasn’t hurtful.

She says, “It’s much worse coming from someone close to you than a total stranger. I was really hurt and embarrassed that they felt the need to reprimand me for feeding my child. It shocked me that they cared more about the other patrons who are more than capable of looking away than the comfort of their own daughter and granddaughter!”

And sadly, I know where she’s coming from, because the only person who shamed me in almost two years of nursing was my dad. He didn’t mean to hurt me, but his vocal discomfort with me breastfeeding around him and the rest of my family resulted in many lonely hours feeding my son in the upstairs guest room. Even Christmas Eve saw me isolated from everyone, crying and lonely while my little guy nursed. I felt ostracized and ashamed. Looking back, I wish I’d spoken up.

That’s why I’m thrilled moms like Stanley are standing up for themselves. Breastfeeding is hard enough without your own family giving you shit. Kudos to her for being bold enough to put a stop to it.

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