While I’ve never really understood the public’s fascination with celebrities’ mundane daily activities (so they shop for groceries… so what?), this past week’s huge news on the celeb-sighting front is, in my book, actually news: Beyoncé publicly breastfed her infant daughter, Blue Ivy, while dining in a restaurant with hubby Jay-Z, and it’s caused a bit of a stir. Sure, it’s voyeuristic for anyone to have even taken note at the time, or taken interest afterward, but Beyoncé knows as well as the next A-lister that she’s a walking, talking PR-machine, even when she’s just having lunch. Whether she nursed in public as a ‘lactivist’ or simply as a mommy doing her thing, doing so lent some mainstream, glam goodwill to breastfeeding moms everywhere (whom the American public still regards with a weirdly aggressive brand of squeamishness).
As much as it’s caused a temporary tizzy, too, Beyoncé’s casual approach to letting the world know she’s chosen to breastfeed will ultimately, I hope, serve to re-acclimate the public eye to what is, in fact, a super normal—not to mention inoffensive— thing to see: a mom feeding her baby. From her breast. Because that’s where breast milk comes from. What Beyoncé’s NIP (nursing in public) action says to me is, ‘See people? No biggie.’
Beyoncé is, of course, a pretty big deal, and her influence may provide a positive boost to breastfeeding stats among black moms, who breastfeed at lower rates than other women in the US do. New AAP guidelines-- based on an enormous body of research demonstrating breast milk’s far-reaching health benefits for babies (not to mention nursing’s benefits for moms, and society-at-large)-- now recommend all babies breastfeed exclusively for at least six months after birth. Miss Sasha Fierce surely just helped score a bunch more babies, African-American and otherwise, a shot at reaching that goal.
Now, Beyoncé’s been all-around awesome for a long time (I mean, seriously: this is simply genius), and, as a new mom, landed herself a prime position from which to break down some of the social barriers, anyway, that stand between women and breastfeeding success… Leave it to her to find a perfectly graceful, understated, yet unapologetic way to do so. That woman’s got stardom and class to burn, and this blog’s official statement back is Go Mama, Go.
So what do you think of Beyoncé’s nursing in public?