If you had any doubt that public breastfeeding is controversial, check out this “social experiment” by YouTube prankster Joey “Salads” Saladino, who filmed his friend Emily breastfeeding in public to see how strangers would react.
“I made the video due to requests from parents I got because of what happened on the Wendy Williams Show,” Salads, 22, tells Yahoo Parenting, referring to a January 6 segment of the talk show during which Alyssa Milano, a breastfeeding advocate, defended public nursing to Williams, who has been outspoken about her disapproval. “I don’t need to see that,” she told Milano.
Since posting the video to Facebook Monday, it’s racked up more than 111,000 likes, almost 170,000 shares, and prompted the hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding. In the video, Salads accompanies his friend and her baby to park benches, bus stops, and businesses. The reaction from strangers varies from disgust to indifference.
“You know there’s private places where you can actually do this. You don’t need to be doing that in public,” admonishes one woman — another mom — sitting next to Emily on an outside bench. “I’m sorry, I’m a new mom, I don’t know the rules,” says Emily. “He’s hungry, I feed him.” The woman says, “Whatever” and abruptly leaves.
On another bench, a man balks, “Do you have to do that here?” and takes off. At a bus stop, Emily is berated by a woman who refuses to make eye contact with her and says, “You have to go home.” When Emily replies, “Breastfeeding is natural,” the woman says, “You know what’s natural? Marijuana.” And one male passerby on the phone stops his conversation to lecture Emily with, “There’s a time and a place.”
Emily has only a few supporters — one woman said it’s “absolutely” fine for the mom to nurse, and another says, “No, not at all” when Emily asks if she minded if her baby ate.
“Who here breastfeeds?” Salads asked on his Facebook page. “Feel free to comment a picture of it to make a statement to support public breastfeeding!”
Thousands of people responded, some sharing photos of women nursing their babies, and many debated the topic.
“Thank you for doing this video. I’m a new mom and really nervous about having to breastfeed in public when I start taking my son out because he doesn’t like being covered,” wrote one woman. Another: “Everyone else eats in public why can’t babies? You wanna eat with a blanket over your head or in a bathroom or in a room alone?”
Not one to rest on his laurels, however, Salads tells Yahoo Parenting that he’s making a sequel to the breastfeeding experiment. “I have a part two where I compare how people treat a girl with [visible cleavage] to a woman breastfeeding.”