From the public controversy over the latest Times breastfeeding cover, it may be no surprise that the pictures of two breastfeeding military moms is fueling some outrage.
These photos were taken for a Breastfeeding Awareness campaign by Mom2Mom of Fairchild Air Force Base, led by Crystal Scott, a military wife and mom-of-three.
“A lot of people are saying it’s a disgrace to the uniform. They’re comparing it to urinating and defecating [while in uniform],” Scott angrily said. “It’s extremely upsetting. Defecating in public is illegal. Breast-feeding is not.”
“I’m an X-ray tech and I breastfeed in my uniform all the time,” Scott also added. “Granted they’re scrubs. But people do it all the time in their uniforms. If you have a hungry baby, why would you take the time to change completely?”
Terran Echegoyen-McCabe who was photographed nursing her twin daughters was shocked by the reactions.
“I have breastfed in our lobby, in my car, in the park … and I pump, usually in the locker room,” Echegoyen-McCabe explained. “I’m proud to be wearing a uniform while breast-feeding. I’m proud of the photo and I hope it encourages other women to know they can breastfeed whether they’re active duty, guard or civilian.”
“There isn’t a policy saying we can or cannot breast-feed in uniform,” she also adds. “I think it’s something that every military mom who is breast-feeding has done. … I think we do need to be able to breast-feed in uniform and be protected.”
While there are other breastfeeding photos, only the ones of Echegoyen-McCabe and her friend Christina Luna have sparked criticism.
The pictures are not endorsed by the Air Force. In fact, Air Force spokesperson Captain Rose Richeson recently released a statement, “Airmen should be mindful of their dress and appearance and present a professional image at all times while in uniform.” While there are no specific policies against breastfeeding, the military has been specifically strict about seemingly trivial activities while in uniform (e.g., Military personnel are not allowed to chew gum or carry non-black umbrellas while in uniform)
So why do these images shock people? “I think a lot of people think that you can’t be a mom and be a soldier,” Scott explained. “This is not something that’s out of norm for them. They breastfeed in uniform all the time — it’s just not something that’s usually captured on film.”
While there may and should be certain protocol for people in uniform, we can’t forget that these women are also mothers. What are your thoughts on the photos? Interestingly, only Echegoyen-McCabe’s photos have been specifically called out.