While moms being shamed and kicked out of public places for breastfeeding their babies is, unfortunately, nothing new, the experience of Utah mother Ana Davis certainly came with a surprising twist: She was asked to leave a Nordstrom Rack restroom after a fellow customer complained about her nursing her infant.
“She was crying. She was ready to have her meal, so I went to the restroom and found an open chair,” Davis told KSL of her daughter, Mia.
But shortly thereafter, she said, “We were approached by a Nordstrom employee who said a complaint had been made that somebody was feeling uncomfortable doing their business while there was a nursing mother in the restroom.” She was asked to relocate to a fitting room instead.
“It was a little embarrassing at first,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong by nursing.”
Mia’s dad, Joel Davis, later called and spoke with a store manager, who apologized for the incident. Still, he added, “It provokes the question, why did it make sense to ask a nursing mother to leave the privacy of a bathroom?”
In a statement, Nordstrom told KLS, “We were so disappointed to hear Mrs. Davis say this was her experience when she visited our store, and we’ve followed up directly with her and her husband to apologize. We want every customer to feel comfortable while they’re shopping with us, particularly nursing mothers. Though we’re always happy to offer a fitting room if a mom is looking for additional privacy, our employees should never ask a nursing mom to move. We’ve looked into this and confirmed each of our employees knows that mothers are able to nurse in our store wherever they’re most comfortable.”
That’s a good thing for shoppers to know in Utah, where state laws allow mothers to breastfeed only in public spaces — as in parks and government buildings — and not in privately owned ones. In 2016, lawmakers sought to broaden protections for breastfeeding moms through bill SB240, which would have guaranteed freedom from discrimination for women who openly nurse their babies.
But opposition led by Republican Sen. Todd Weiler killed the bill. According to Deseret News, he said he was “legitimately concerned” that a lactating woman and her friends “could sit there and publicly display their breasts as long as they want, and there’s nothing the business could do about it.”
Retail spaces have been the site of breastfeeding controversies before — including an Anthropologie in Beverly Hills, where women staged a “nurse-in” to protest a manager’s decision to escort a breastfeeding mom from the floor of the store to a bathroom, as well as at Walmarts in Iowa and Oklahoma.
More recently, breastfeeding moms have been escorted out of spaces including a church and an outdoor mall in Virginia, as well as a public pool in South Dakota; in all those situations, state laws were clearly on the side of the mothers and babies.
But in Utah, Davis used common sense to appeal to the public after she was asked to leave the restroom. “We as a society are OK with, you know, low-cut shirts or advertisements of underwear models,” she said. “But a nursing mother, to a lot of people, is just very offensive.” To which her husband added, “It’s baffling. It’s beyond me.”
Read more on Yahoo Style + Beauty:
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