Nursing Moms, Public Art

Brilliant! Canadian sculptor and mom, Lea Vivot, created this stunning work called “The Endless Bench”, and donated it to the garden at Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital after her own son, who was a patient there, died at just eighteen months.

The work shows two women, one pregnant, the other openly nursing her baby, while they have a conversation and watch children playing in the sand at their feet.

Vivot celebrates the beauty and normalcy of feeding our children, and in the process, helps stomp out the squeamishness that surrounds breastfeeding in public. She hopes women will sit on the bench, nurse their own babies, and “receive the gift of life by giving life.”  Vivot says,”On this particular statue, the bench is a complete circle, endless, an expression of love and procreation. Carved on the bench are 365 different messages of love, inspiration, and hope from parents worldwide.”

As a mother and a woman, I look at this beautiful work and am amazed that there are still so many who are uncomfortable with nursing in public. We haven’t yet grown accustomed to the functional use of boobs, in spite of knowing for years that breast is best.

Sher Maloney, a California mother of two started the Web site www.nurseherenow.com to support nursing in public.  She hits the nail on the head when she says, “A cultural taboo is actually affecting decisions about children’s health.”

That taboo runs deep. Even Barbara Walters, first woman news anchor and icon of woman-power everywhere, spilled on “The View” about how uncomfortable she felt sitting next to a woman on an air flight who was breastfeeding her child.

C’mom, Barb. Breastfeeding isn’t hip or trendy. It’s not embarrassing. It’s the normal way we feed our babies. Where was she supposed to go on that plane?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life. It supports breast-feeding for the first year and beyond. But less than half the states in the U.S. achieve the national Healthy People goal for 75 percent of mothers to begin breast-feeding at birth, according to CDC data.

So I say let’s erect breast feeding statues in every park and public square. Let’s make the image of feeding our precious babies a ubiquitous vision and start taking the sexual charge away from the titties. Let’s commission Lea Vivot, and sculptors everywhere, to create artistic expression of our most fundamental job: nourishing the next generation.

When bronzes of nursing moms become as commonplace as those of warriors on horseback we can claim victory. It’s not lewd, it’s food.

 

 

 

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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?


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One response to “Nursing Moms, Public Art”

  1. Hazel M. Wheeler

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

    From my experience, it has often been women who seem to be most offended and vocal in their disgust or discomfort regarding other mothers nursing in public. I’d love to see a revival of the Ladies Lounge, because many women would like a quieter place to nurse when they’re out and about. However, our babies need to eat when they need to eat, and people need to get over our taboos about breasts being used for their primary purpose: nursing.

    Artwork like this is lovely, showing how natural and comfortable nursing can be. It is not a separate aspect of mothering, nothing new or trendy. It is how humans usually feed our babies, and how we have since the beginning of time. Thanks again.

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