Last week the US National Perinatal Association marked Breastfeeding Awareness Month by releasing 40+ icons which “recognise and honour everyone who does their best to give our babies what they need”.
The International Breastfeeding Symbol was deliberately bottle-free as a counterpoint to a global context in which corporate predation had replaced breast with bottle so successfully that babies were visually represented by products. Less than 2 decades later, of the 43 versions NPA has created to ‘celebrate breastfeeding awareness and all the ways we feed and nurture our babies’ – there are 5 bottles (including 2 separate masculine figures bottle feeding babies), 3 pumps, 3 nursing supplements, and 2 jars of donated milk. All of which are products of ethically opaque companies on whom NPA’s work is financially dependent.
This is the unashamed and cynical hijacking of organisations set up to protect mothers and babies – by the very companies whose vested interest lies in eroding those protections. And it is absolutely no coincidence that it is all being couched in language which obscures the sex-based realities of the unique social, economic and institutional oppressions which force mothers to use alternative feeding methods in the first place. Celebrate that? No thank you.