more boobtastic anxiety

by marjorieingall on October 19, 2009

ingall_101509_380px_bigThis week’s Tablet column, pegged to parent company Nextbook’s Jewish Body Week, is up. It’s about breastfeeding mishegas. Here it is.

Why does this subject make people so nutso? I piece I wrote eons ago, for the launch of the online parenting magazine Babble, is always in the top-10 hit-getters on the entire site. Even now, years later. The subject is a huge trigger for women — just read the comments on the Babble piece. Many are ill-informed and hateful, accusing women who don’t breastfeed of being selfish or not trying hard enough, making scientifically inaccurate statements about the dangers of formula, unleashing more judgment than the Sanhedrin. Pourquoi the venom?

When I get worked up about someone else’s idiocy, I try to channel the voice of a wise man I once worked with. Although majorly not a Jew, he used to interrupt me mid-rant, in a little old altacacker Jewish accent: “Vhat is it your business?”

Indeed, vhat is it your business if someone else nurses? Unless it is to advocate for better family leave policies, more early and affordable lactation support, and universal workplace accommodation for pumping mothers. Maybe you should turn a little of that judgment inwards. Back the hell up.┬áLeave individual women alone. Even in an anonymous web forum. No matter why they’re not nursing.

The comments on the Babble piece remind me of the comments on stories about Crystal Renn, the plus-size model with whom I wrote Hungry. The tsunami of hate unleashed on overweight people is really something. There is a spew and a pretense about “obesity kills,” (also ill-informed, you will discover if you read our book or the work of Linda Bacon, Ph.D.) but that’s so clearly NOT what the hate is about. It’s about a failed body, and perceived weakness, and a kind of judginess that speaks much more to the commenter’s anxieties and loathings than to any public health issue.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

La Petite Acadienne October 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm

As a friend of mine wrote, what our society needs is a great big dose of mind your own damn business.

gayle October 20, 2009 at 5:05 pm

So if formula makes us stoopid, then our entire bottle-fed generation is stoopid?
George Bush was probably a formula baby.
Well, that explains him. But what about the rest of us? I didn’t get any titty and I think I’m pretty smart. Then again, my immunity is shit. I have GIARDIA! If only I’d been breastfed.
God, I had the dogmatic nursing nazis. The dogmatic ANYTHING nazis.

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