Monday, April 30, 2012

Nipple Fear and Breastfeeding Revisited

Nipple Fear and Breastfeeding

Americans puritan fear of nipples relates to their inability to embrace breastfeeding as a mother-baby process that can take place anywhere at the convenience of the mother baby pair. 

Click here:
to read my earlier post on Breastfeeding and Nipple Fear

Why are Americans so afraid of showing nipples, seeing nipples and even saying the word "nipple?"  And how does our apparent fear of nipples influence our concept of breastfeeding?

on the NBC Today Show web site epitomizes nipple fear in the United States.

"The latest in the breast-feeding wars comes all the way from South Korea and involves the epitome of American snacktime: the Oreo cookie.
An ad from Agency Cheil Worldwide pairs the cr√®me-filled treat with an unlikely image: a super-cute baby holding the cookie while nursing on his mama’s breast.  The accompanying slogan: “Milk’s favorite cookie.” (It's unclear if Nabisco, maker of Oreos, is actually using the ad or if the agency just created it.)"

Breastfeeding sells
I say: Why not use breastfeeding to sell Oreo cookies?  Why not use Oreo cookies to sell breastfeeding.
Why cover the nipple in this baby's mouth?
"It’s one thing to cheer when other cultures portray breast-feeding as normal. But isn’t there something kind of... icky… about the way this ad blatantly sexualizes breast-feeding?" writes Varma-White.
How does this ad sexualize breastfeeding?  She makes the point that this polished picture idealizes a mother-baby moment with an airbrushed breast.  I say, so what!
The real focus in this photo is the baby's eyes looking out at the viewer as if to say, "Don't even think about taking my Oreo, dude!"
Here is the uncensored photo

 Sexualizing the nipple

We have sexualized the breast in this country so much that we must now engage in nipple fear and nipple covering to come to terms with our pilgrim-like sensibility.  We make pasties to cover women's nipples.  We write laws for strip clubs that limit how much of the breast a woman can show when dancing around on a pole for men who are paying to watch!  Really people!?
LP cover from the 1960s

But we are not really afraid of nipples and areolas and showing and seeing them in photographs and art work.  We are really afraid of admitting how much they represent what really tantalizes us-individually and as a culture.

Nipple Covers
We cover nipples with a lace bra that would never stay on
We even cover mermaid nipples with long hair.
These vintage LP record album covers from the 1960s are an example of the lengths that our culturally dictated norms regarding nipple portrayal lead us to.  They all show beautiful images of iconically erotic women engaged in a come hither dance or pose with their nipples strategically covered by a manufactured or artfully placed garment.

Nipple coverage today
And we are still doing this today, even when we decline to show a picture of a baby with his mother's breast in his mouth!  And isn't that a great place for a women's breast to be?


  1. Hi, I read your blog like every week. Your humoristic style is witty, keep doing what you're doing!

    Eric Gray Buffalo

  2. I could not resist commenting. Very well written!

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