All across London, people are perking up to take pictures of peculiar sight –massive, inflatable breast balloons perched on rooftops and roadsides.
The giant installations are part of a campaign called #FreeTheFeed. Ana Balarin, the woman who started the original campaign in 2017, wants to get one thing off her chest: Breastfeeding in public is normal.
“I started #FreetheFeed to remove the shame and sexualization around” nursing, Balarin, the Partner and Executive Creative Director of Mother London, told Yahoo Lifestyle, as well as “to get people to accept breastfeeding and pumping as an inherent part of having a small baby. It literally comes with the package.”
Humps for 250 yards #FreeTheFeed #ElviePump We’re up and about in London this morning smuggling breasts onto rooftops! Why? Because we’re making a stand to support and empower women to feed their babies when they want where they want! pic.twitter.com/cKtjhorqwB— Elvie (@elvie) March 31, 2019
Since March 26, the date the U.K. celebrates Mother’s Day, four larger-than-life balloons have been appearing across London— and they’re hard to miss. The smallest “bοοb ballon” stands at nearly 10 feet while the largest towers over the London skyline at nearly 20 feet. Creative agency Mother London designed them in a range of skin tones to be inclusive of all women.
While the stigma around breastfeeding and lack of workplace support for breastfeeding mothers is an issue that impacts women globally, according to UNICEF, the UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.
“What a lot of people don’t understand is that small children don’t chose a time to be hungry and the maternal - and paternal -instinct to feed a hungry child supersedes any imposed conventions,” explained Balarin. “That’s why the incrimination and shaming is doubly insulting.”
According to a 2019 U.K. survey, one in three breastfeeding mothers have been forced to use the restroom at work to pump their milk, The Guardian reported. Of the 2,000 British women surveyed, over half say they’ve received little workplace support and are forced to pump in unsuitable places, including their staffroom, car and desk.
But this year, Elvie, a U.K.-based femtech firm, joined forces with the agency to “empower women to feed their babies when they want where they want!” Elvie is no stranger to advocating for breastfeeding moms. The women’s health tech company has pioneered what they say is “the world's first silent wearable breast pump.” With the #FreetheFeed campaign, Elvie and Mother London hope to “invite” the public to stand in solidarity with women trying to feed their children.
“The #FreetheFeed campaign is an invitation to everyone to stand with all those women that have felt shamed or confined when breastfeeding or pumping,” Tania Boler, the CEO and Founder of Elvie, told the Huffington Post UK. “We know the giant bοοbs will raise a few eyebrows, but we want to make sure no one overlooks the way that this stigma has been used to repress women.”
So far, the campaign is working. “A lot of feelings go through your mind when you come across a 6 meter high bοοb,” said Balarin. People online have begun to share messages of support for the #FreetheFeed campaign, and posted selfies with the inflatables online.
“As far as awareness campaigns go, this one is the t**s,” another account tweeted.
One mom expressed thanks for the campaign’s work to normalize breastfeeding. She even shared her experience of feeding her infant in public.
“Last week he needed feeding in the queue to meet Greg James and this week it was on a bench in town,” she tweeted. “Either way, I’m just so very grateful to my body for allowing me to keep this little cherub alive.”
See all the best reactions to the giant, inflatable bοοbs below:
Last week he needed feeding in the queue to meet Greg James and this week it was on a bench in town. Either way, I’m just so very grateful to my body for allowing me to keep this little cherub alive. #FreeTheFeed #normalisebreastfeeding 📸 @wfullerpho… https://t.co/U50dKFpAKw pic.twitter.com/QpBW1k9FKp— Charlotte (@CharRawles) March 31, 2019
I honestly thought this was a great April fool’s joke....— Dr Ruth Ann Harpur (@RuthAnnHarpur) April 1, 2019
But apparently not... this really is an attempt to #normalisebreastfeeding by putting gigantic tits on top of buildings ... as you do #freethefeed
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