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Breastfeeding in Public Ads Provoke Online Debate, Controversy

( [email protected] ) May 09, 2014 06:53 PM EDT

A student ad campaign from the University of North Texas supporting breast feeding legislation aimed at protecting the practice in public and making it more acceptable is causing a stir in some online circles.

The ads feature pictures of women nursing their babies in public toilet stalls, and for some, the ads cross the 'decent and acceptable' line.

"Private dining. Would you eat here?" asks the text of one of poster, which features a photo of a young mother breastfeeding her infant from a dingy public restroom. There are two other images in the series called "When Nurture Calls," of different mom-baby pairs.  One ask, "Bon appétit. Would you eat here?" and the other,  "Table for two. Would you eat here?"

breastfeeding Ad
Graphic design students at the University of North Texas asked this inspiring mama, Monica, to be the face of their ad campaign. The campaign was designed to protect mothers from harassment. (Photo: Facebook)

The series is the brainchild of graphic-art majors Johnathan Wenske and Kris Haro, both juniors at the school. According to Yahoo, they decided to take on the polarizing issue of public breastfeeding for an assignment that required students to design a campaign for a social issue or product, as if it were being created for actual paying clients.

The first image was posted on Facebook by blogger Mama Bean on May 3, and it has more than 13,000 likes and 8,000 shares, generating a lengthy comment stream with opinions ranging from supportive to insulting.  

Some comments personally attacked photo model Monica Young for being everything from indecent to, "too young to be a mom".

Comments have ranged from crude and sexually driven, to one self-reported mom calling the public practice, "trashy."

It has gotten so bad at times, Young felt compelled to write:

"My point in participating in this ad wasn't just for the legislation, but to shed light on a problem that most people don't even realize is an actual problem. And just because you've never been harassed while NIP [nursing in public] doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. Nursing your child in a bathroom, car, anywhere but where the mother is comfortable for fear of anything is a problem"

She wrote that most of the harassment she receives while breastfeeding are nasty and sexual comments.

She adds, "Whether I was a too young or not, what does it matter what age I am? Teen moms breastfeed, too. I'm 21, so yeah I'm pretty young, and younger mothers are less likely to breastfeed. So hopefully it will encourage younger mothers to breastfeed, breastfeed in public and to not be ashamed to do any of it."

Wenske and Haro, both 20, say they picked the topic while looking at issues online and coming across the story of a woman harassed in a Texas Target for breastfeeding in 2011.

"We thought that was totally messed-up," Wenske tells Yahoo Shine.

Many states already have laws protecting a breastfeeding mother, but some do not. The legislation in Texas is to add an enforcement provision to protect nursing mothers from harassment.  

Although some Christians may find the nudity involved to be offensive, Christian writer Rachel Stone offers up some great thoughts supporting the practice.  

"The act of breastfeeding is a picture of the care God gives us," she writes. 

When Nurture Calls
(Photo : Facebook)