Monday, December 26, 2011

The Target Issue

Mostly everyone is aware of what has happened recently at a Target store in TX. If not I have copied and posted the mothers statement below.

"Here is the lengthy official details feel free to cut and paste and share everywhere:

I'm not the best public speaker or the most educated or outspoken person in breastfeeding rights but I am a mom of 4 who has been harassed and humiliated by Target for nursing by infant in their store. I was Christmas shopping with a basket full of items when my infant woke up hungry, so I found a remote area of the store in the ladies clothing department close to the fitting rooms and sat Indian style on the floor next to my basket and a display of jeans and nursed my hungry baby with a blanket completely covering him. Briefly I will say that 2 women employees came and verbally asked me to move. The 2nd one told me that Target employees had been told/trained to interrupt nursing and to redirect mothers to the fitting rooms. Even after I informed the 2nd employee of my legal right to nurse in public she still suggested me moving closer to the jean display, turning to face another direction, and also turn my basket a certain way which would have put me practically underneath the jean display and totally barricaded me in. Employee #2 even said in a hint around but threatening way you can get a ticket and be reported for indecent exposure when nothing was being exposed and there was more boob showing from low cut shirts several shoppers were wearing that night. This does not include the other 3-4 employees besides the 2 verbal ones who were all watching and making a spectacle of my nursing by walking by standing around pretending to do something and giving me mean looks and shaking their heads no back and forth. In a side note not a single non-employee customer ever saw the incident so I'm not sure why the employees were trying to act like I was offending "the public" and that it was their job to step in. 
After I left the store I decided to call the Target corporate office and speak to a guest relations person to notify them of the situation and to suggest that they educate their employees as to the legal right I have to nurse in public. The phone call however took a turn for the worse. The lady (I wish I would have gotten her name) told me that she and Target were aware of our legal rights as nursing mothers, but that Target has different policies because they are a family friendly public place. I can't think of a more family friendly act than breastfeeding and providing the irrefutably proven healthiest diet to my baby. She continued to inform me repetitively that Target's policies were different than the law and even went as far to say several times that just because it is a woman's right to nurse in public even without a nursing cover like I was using doesn't mean women should walk around and I quote "flaunting it" and was extremely rude. I also talked to the supervisor of this rude lady and that didn't get anywhere either.

It saddens me that mothers are being treated this way as if breastfeeding is vile and offensive. If this would have happened to me with the first child I nursed I would have considered giving up on nursing due to embarrassment and that is what concerns me the most. I know that breastmilk is best and that nursing is hard work and a selfless act that mothers choose to do for their babies, and I would hate for this to happen to someone else causing them to give up on nursing. Please help me support the best nutrition for babies and to make a stand in support of nursing in public so this doesn't happen again."
I was upset by this on two different levels. The first is the fact that I have worked at a Target store for the past five years. I have been in the lower management bracket, I stepped down after having my children so I could work part-time and be able to devote my energies towards my children. As a employee, I was outraged. 

Verbatim from the Policy on breastfeeding
" Target's Breastfeeding Policy:
Guests may openly breastfeed in our stores or ask where they can go to breastfeed their child. When this happens, remember these points:
-Target's policy supports breastfeeding in any area of our stores, including our fitting rooms, even if others are waiting.
-if you see a guest breastfeeding in our stores, do not approach her.
-If she approaches and asks you for a location, offer the fitting room; do not offer the restroom as an option."

This store is apparently working on it's own set of policies according to the views of the managers and employees. This is ignorance at it's best.  The people on the 800 number she called should of known better than to comment the way they did. Though I can understand, because we have all seen the pictures on the 'People of Walmart' website where mothers have their entire breast exposed to nurse their baby. This is probably what the operator thought of despite what this mother was telling her. I have always gone out of my way to deal with guests appropriately and to the best of my ability. If I don't know what to do, I radio for help. That is what these team members should of done first. If the HR manager had been on, a few clicks on the computer would of been the answer and this situation would of never happened. 

Then there is the other side of the coin. I am furious over this as a nursing mother.  There are some who breastfeed that say they would never sit on the floor and nurse. I understand that. There are some who say they would just go out to the car. I understand. BUT that is missing the issue completely. If she had been sitting on the floor giving her baby a bottle, no one would of said a thing to her. 
It is a hard thing to switch the mindset about breastfeeding. There are still so many who feel that it is inappropriate or even sexual. (Breasts Function and Pleasure)

My opinion is simply this mothers should be able to breastfeed wherever and whenever they need to.
There is a line to draw when it comes to appearance when breastfeeding in public: the whole breast should not be exposed (this is hard to do with older babies).  There are covers that you can use when they are small or if you/they don't mind be covered up. But as the mother of one who does not like being covered up, you simply pull the shirt down to cover the part that is not in use. Leaving enough for the baby to feel comfortable and for you to feel comfortable. 
The other issue is the simple fact that if we can eat while we are shopping, if toddlers can snack and drink at will. Then infants who need both nutritional and emotional nourishment should be allowed to eat when they hunger, without having to be moved to an "appropriate area". 
This was the norm for centuries, our species would not of survived without it. Mothers and wet-nurses nursed the babies. Men and children were accustomed to seeing a baby nursing. And any husband/man you asked didn't think that the woman was any less attractive because she was nursing. Breasts are life bringers and nourishers, that is why they are attractive. 
I am not bashing bottle feeding mothers. I do bash how they feed their babies, I think very poorly of every mom who just props up the bottle for the baby to eat. This is horrible for the emotional growth of the infant. 

There is nothing more important than the development of the child. We should have a mutual respect for both breast feeders and the formula feeders. Both should be allowed to feed their child when it hungers and they should be allowed to feed the baby in whatever way is comfortable to the mother. 

And if it's ok for us to see women out in public with it ALL hanging out, then it's ok for a mom to nurse her baby with out without a cover.

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