Monday, August 11, 2008

Nurse-in update

While my boss is on the phone (you can see how seriously I take my work) I thought I would quickly update you on the H&M nurse-in. The show of support was awesome! So many people, so many boobs. For those of you who have been to the Vancouver store, the mall entrance was all but blocked off by mums, dads, partners, siblings, supporters and media. There were people both inside and outside of the store, drawing LOTS of attention.

One of the best things I noticed was the really wide range of people there. Unlike what I'm sure some people must think, it wasn't only young freaky hippy mums. There were all ages, ethnicity's, levels of alternative-ness (ha!), genders and sexualities. There was a nice community feel to it, people were chatting and swapping stories, watching kids play and doing all that comes naturally with being a parent. All of this did well to reinforce that this is a normal, natural and beautiful act.

H&M were rather reluctant to come and talk to us, there was a rep there from Toronto who basically hid in the back of the store until we all went back there in order to challenge her on H&M's views regarding breastfeeding. Of course she said it is not at all the policy of the company and was obviously a mistake made by the staff (hmm, apparently by 2 or 3 staff along with the manager of the store) - nice, drop your staff in it. When we asked if the staff was aware of this policy, she assured us they did and it was in their training manual. However, strangely when we asked to see this....she was finished talking with us and was ushered away by two minder-like looking people. Eventually she told us that it was a confidential document, and no we could not have access to it.


What really surprises me, was the lack of ability of H&M to deal with the situation - or probably more likely, the degree in which they underestimated the outrage by breastfeeding mothers and their supporters. The best thing they could have done, was admit fault, apologise and make amendments to their store policies. How hard is that?? You would then not only have done the right thing, but would also win back a large amount of your customer base. The second more sneaky way could have been to quickly type up a policy so she at least had something to fake with!

All in all, I think it went really well. I don't for a minute believe they have/had a policy on breastfeeding, but I'm glad that she was pushed into a corner and said so. We and Manuela Valle have something to hold them to. As for those people who still think its offensive, or even for those people who support breast-feeding but only when its hidden away somewhere (yes, even in those lovely comfortable rooms businesses provide women with AS A CHOICE) - I think the question that needs to be asked in response is...why? Why is it offensive? Who or what has told you that? What is inherently offensive about feeding your child? Is it because its a breast, which has been made to be purely sexual? Is it because we so rarely see people being intimate or mothering, that it scares us a little? If so, then the issue is no longer with the breastfeeding woman, but with ourselves and who we chose to let tell us what is right and what isn't.


Sadye said...

I agree with what you have to say about breastfeeding! I am still breastfeeding my lil girl and you should see some of the looks I get from people in public! I mean I am not flashing myself around, but I think that because it is a breast and falls in the sexual world, there are some people that just cannot get past that! But I am comfortable enough with myself that I could really care less what someone thinks that I will probably never see again. For I know that I am giving my child the best start possible.