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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Things that make you go "Huh?!"

Mostly naked supermodels in the window?  Yes.  Mother nursing baby in the fitting roomNo.

Huh?!

Posted by Hillel Levin on February 2, 2006 at 01:21 PM in Hillel Levin | Permalink

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Comments

Shocking, absolutely stunning! What howling lunatic would ever think that people would want to see semi-naked supermodels and not breast-feeding mommies?!

Posted by: md | Feb 2, 2006 1:53:05 PM

Of course they would throw out a nursing mother from Victoria's Secret. Confronted with the primary biological function of the female breast, the billion dollar makers of painful and ridiculous apparatus accentuating its secondary cultural role, begin to look so "infantile".

Posted by: Ruchira Paul | Feb 2, 2006 1:55:53 PM

md: "In the fitting room."

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Feb 2, 2006 2:00:34 PM

But Hillel, someone (a host of scantily clad supermodel customers, perhaps?) must have seen the milking mommy, no? Otherwise no one would have had cause to complain. Or maybe there was a VS video cam strategically placed to nab maternal miscreants?

Posted by: md | Feb 2, 2006 2:14:46 PM

I assume that the woman was in the fitting room for some lengthy period of time, or that she asked a salesperson to let her into the room in order that she may breastfeed. Whatever the case, it is clear that she was not displaying herself to the world, even if a couple of people happened to catch a glimpse.

Why are some people uncomfortable with nursing mothers in public? I assume that the answer has something to do with traditional notions of what body parts ought to be on display.

Now putting aside whatever general thoughts I may have about this, there is some irony to the fact that all VS sells is sex and exposed body parts. That the "huh?!"

Perhaps I'm wrong, and perhaps the real problem is that the VS salesperson was okay with exposed supermodel breasts, but just thought a nursing mother feeding her child, however privately, was just unsightly for him/herself and others. Is that your contention? If so, that's a crummy reason.

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Feb 2, 2006 2:24:53 PM

And now we get to the heart of it. Your objection hasn't got anything to do with the fitting room. It has to do with your militancy about others' discomfort with breastfeeding in public, which you take to be ever so much more objectionable because, irony of ironies, the store in question happens to sell lingerie. But there's nothing 'huh' about that. It's perfectly understandable that a store catering to a certain market would be uncomfortable with breastfeeding...that public breastfeeding wouldn't help sales of lingerie, for example. There's nothing shocking or incomprehensible about that. So what we're left with is the "general thoughts" you harbor about this social phenomenon.

Posted by: md | Feb 2, 2006 2:37:56 PM

md:

Suppose YOU worked at VS. Suppose a woman shopping at the store asks you to unlock the fitting room so she may feed her child. Suppose that there is not a long line for the fitting room.

What would you say?

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Feb 2, 2006 2:45:29 PM

This is a management issue. To train a salesperson in how to handle breastfeeding mothers when they can barely handle a cash register is difficult, at best.

You can legislate anything, but it's impossible to legislate everything.

Posted by: Mel Gibson | Feb 2, 2006 2:49:24 PM

Hillel:

I would open the door and allow her to breast feed her child, which is the only decent thing to do in my view.

But I also recognize that others are less comfortable about breasfeeding in public, and that the question of what's appropriate to do in public is a complicated one. So in a bow to both the unresolved nature of this public debate and my bottom line, I'd probably close and guard the door.

Posted by: md | Feb 2, 2006 2:54:36 PM

As you say, it is the only decent thing to do.

But I will say that I hardly think a fitting room is "public" in the sense that any of those other questions arise. And I don't see how a public bathroom at the mall is less public than the fitting room at VS.

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Feb 2, 2006 3:04:20 PM

md:
So the problem IS feeding the baby and not the exposure, right? Because women in a VS fitting room can hardly try on lingerie without exposing something. Do you realize how strange that is? There is nothing militant in recognizing the contradiction here.

I am always taken aback by the "discomfort" people (including many women) feel about breast feeding in public, even when the mother puts a cover over the baby and her breast or as in this case, inside a fitting room. What is so revolting about the scenario?

A few years back there was an uproar about breast feeding in public in some city (I think in Florida) and the city council debated the matter. One council woman said in all seriousness, "We cannot allow public breast feeding, especially when children are around." And I remember thinking that actually, it would be very irksome behavior if NO children were around when breast feeding was taking place! People just get very silly around this perfectly natural and necessary action that a mother with a nursing baby needs to take when she and the baby leave home.

Posted by: Ruchira Paul | Feb 2, 2006 3:18:54 PM

RP:

Not quite correct, in my view, on the first point. It seems to me that the difference in sex appeal (which undoubtedly is something that would matter to VS's general image, as well as its bottom line) between seeing a supermodel slipping out of lingerie (to take the best case for my argument!) and a harried-looking, exhausted mom breast-feeding her infant is a fairly clear and obvious one. The "objection" is that it's not physically appealing to see a woman breast-feed, but it is appealing to see the supermodel when you're at a lingerie store. If you don't agree, there's nothing I can say except that the view I describe doesn't seem all that nuts to me.

Hillel: Do you agree with RP's point that women in dressing rooms can hardly help but exposing something? Because if you do, then it seems to me there's a big difference between a public bathroom -- usually (but admittedly not always) separated by sex -- and a dressing room.

Posted by: md | Feb 2, 2006 5:06:29 PM

MD:

I believe you've missed RP's point. To the extent that the dressing room door is closed, the nursing mother and the person trying something on are exposed or inexposed in the same sense. RP's point was that if your problem is with public displays of breasts, then there's no difference between the breastfeeding mother and the person trying clothes on.

Further, I don't know what VS's policy is, but I do assume that most people in the dressing rooms tend to be women.

Finally, it seems to me that you have no objection to observing supermodels topless in "public," but understand the objection to seeing mothers nursing in "public." (1) I do not believe that most people's discomfort with mothers nursing in public has much to do with their not being supermodels. In other words, to the extent there is an objection, it generally seems to be "morals-based," whereas you are more interested in what is sexy to you. (2) I don't know why you have the impression that most (any?) of the women trying on bras in the dressing room are of you preferred supermodel variety.

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Feb 2, 2006 5:13:08 PM

Why not just let them breast feed wherever they want to breast feed? People need to grow up and be able to take the sight of a breast being used as intended and not squashed/accentuated/perked/displayed for their viewing pleasure.

Posted by: Criz | Feb 7, 2006 9:16:48 AM

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