Mom Claims Walmart Refused to Print ‘Inappropriate’ Photo of Her Kid

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A New Hampshire Walmart refused to print this photo collage because it showed a breastfeeding mother. (Photo: Luna Iris Photography)

A mother who hired a photographer to take photos of her breastfeeding her daughter says the local Walmart refused to print the images because they were “inappropriate.”

Iris Litterio met photographer Jennifer Luna in a New Hampshire moms’ group and hired her to commemorate her journey through nursing. “Originally, I just wanted to make it six weeks, and my daughter and I ended up getting the hang of it and we’ve made it almost 15 months,” Litterio tells Yahoo Parenting. “I wanted to celebrate that.”

STORY: Walmart Under Fire for Treatment of Breastfeeding Mom

Jennifer Luna, a nursing mother herself, says she offers photo shoots with breastfeeding moms because she wants to capture the bond that nursing creates. “You only have a few months, or maybe a few years, of your child’s life that you do this,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “You will never see this look in their eyes again, and that’s what I want to offer.”

But when Luna went to print the photos at Walmart, in order to use them for a poster to raise breastfeeding awareness at a local latch-on event, she had no luck. After trying to print at a kiosk, Luna says she got the attention of an employee who she hoped would assist her with the machine. “The printer was cutting off the sides of the collage, but the employee told me, ‘It doesn’t matter that they aren’t printing right, you cannot print them here — it’s against company policy because you can see nipple,’” Luna says. “But that is not the case. The nipple is inside the child’s mouth; you can see a little bit of areola.”

STORY: Why Target’s Breastfeeding Policy Matters

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This photo, part of a larger collage, is what one Walmart employee deemed “inappropriate” and refused to print. (Photo: Luna Iris Photography)

Luna said she asked to speak with a store manager, and while she waited for the manager to arrive, the employee grabbed each of the photos — Luna had originally tried to print 30 — from the printer before Luna could get to them. “She was snatching them away to be sure I couldn’t get ahold of them,” she says. When the manager did arrive, Luna says he was equally unhelpful. “I tried to explain the pictures to him, but he said it didn’t matter my reasoning, the pictures were against company policy and that in the future I would have to take my business of this type elsewhere.” The manager also referred to the photos as “inappropriate.”

Luna says she eventually had the pictures printed at Staples, where she encountered no issues.

Erin Hofmann, a Walmart spokesperson, says the retailer has since reached out to Luna and apologized for her experience. “There was a newer associate who was operating under misinformation. We do have policies in place that prevent us from printing certain types of photographs, but breastfeeding does not fall under that category,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “We strive to provide a good customer experience, and unfortunately that didn’t happen here. We sincerely apologize for the customer’s experience. The policy has been clarified to the employees. We have tried to make it right.”

Luna says she received an apology from the store more than two weeks after the incident, and only after the story was covered on the local news. When members of her local moms’ group originally lodged complaints on Walmart’s Facebook page, Luna says they were told that employees had the right to refuse to print any photos they deemed “obscene and indecent.”

Litterio says she was especially surprised at the photo Walmart deemed indecent because it was her favorite of the bunch. “You can see my daughter looking at me, and that face she has when she is nursing is my favorite thing about breastfeeding,” she says. “That look has been what has helped me through this journey — it brings tears to my eyes. It’s so filled with love and contentment and pure trust and this feeling of being utterly safe.”

That Walmart would call photos of breastfeeding obscene and indecent “really offended me,” Litterio says. “They weren’t sexual photos. I felt disappointed because they were treating them like they were pornographic. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. I would be just as surprised if they had removed a picture of my daughter taking a bottle. I feel like Walmart took for granted what an accomplishment it is and what a hard thing nursing is — it’s not always easy and it’s definitely not always enjoyable.”

Luna agrees. “We aren’t taking our tops off or bringing bras down to pose for nude photos for Playboy,” she says. “We are feeding our child like anyone would feed a child.”

Both women feel that the larger issue is that mothers shouldn’t be shamed for breastfeeding. “It’s 2015, babies need to eat, and when my baby wants to eat, she wants it now,” Litterio says. “Would you rather hear my daughter scream or see me nurse? Because I feel like, either way, I will be getting dirty looks. I don’t deserve dirty looks for feeding my child. Walmart should not make women feel uncomfortable for using their bodies for their intended purpose.”

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