New York Old Navy employee tells mom breastfeeding is “unsanitary,” tells her to go to the bathroom

An employee at the Old Navy store in the Marketplace Mall in Rochester, NY told a breastfeeding mother that she wasn’t allowed to breastfeed in the fitting room because it was “unsanitary.”

Emily Dewey-Salogar of Avon, New York, explained her side of the incident on social media. “I was told by an associate at Old Navy today that I was not allowed to use their fitting rooms to breast feed my baby due to it being “unsanitary”. The associate went on to tell me that I could use their bathroom. I said, “No, I am not going to use your bathroom.” I told her “Why is feeding my baby unsanitary?” She went to get her manager and I got upset and left.”

N.Y. Civil Rights Law § 79-e (1994) “permits a mother to breastfeed her child in any public or private location” while protecting her from public indecency charges. As for their claims that breast milk isn’t sanitary, the CDC doesn’t consider it a biohazard. ”No special precautions exist for handling expressed human milk, nor does the milk require special labeling. It is not considered a biohazard.” It isn’t treated the same as blood or urine a body fluid for a reason. It’s perfect acceptable for mothers to feed their babies in public.

This isn’t the first time Old Navy has offended the breastfeeding community. They were slammed by breastfeeding advocates in 2010 for creating a onesie for babies that said “Formula powered” on the front. Last year, Old Navy employees called the cops on a mom after she breastfed her 6-week-old baby in the fitting room and accused her of stealing when she was in line to buy her clothes. The police showed up and found her innocent. Perhaps she was taking “too long” in the fitting room and those ultra-vigilant Old Navy employees would have preferred she announce to the store clerks that she was nursing and not stealing. What a family friendly business, right?

I personally just breastfeed in fitting rooms without asking. Heaven help any store clerk if they tell me it’s not sanitary, demand I move to a bathroom, or call the cops on me.

How can you help?

Call them and ask what their breastfeeding policy is and how they plan to move forward in a positive way from this unlawful action against a mother and child.

What do you think of the Old Navy employee’s actions? How should corporate respond? 

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or comment below.

 

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Breastfeeding: It’s about more than just the milk.

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness month. I would like people to be aware of the wide range of normal for breastfeeding mothers and children around the world. My version of normal means I triandem breastfeed all three of children, a 6-month-old, a nearly 3-year-old, and my 4-year-old. This afternoon, my middle daughter asked to nurse while we were at the park and of course, I said sure. That is our normal.

She breastfed for a minute or less on each side and then went off about her business, climbing, running, and jumping at the park. There were other parents, grandparents, and children around but I didn’t make a fuss. My child asked so I met her need. No one batted an eye.

Breastfeeding is about more than just the milk, of course. A mother should feel proud of meeting her child’s needs, not closeted or ashamed of nursing an older baby. Breastfeeding past infancy raises many questions in our culture and sometimes instead of reaching out for knowledge, mothers receive negative reactions from the public. People unfamiliar with child-care and real life breastfeeding wonder why would a mother feed her child past six months or a year. They don’t know what the benefits of going longer are, waiting until the child is ready to wean, that there are only positives. It’s understandable. I didn’t know the reason behind letting a toddler-aged child or older breastfeed until I had my own toddler that wasn’t ready to stop. I’ve since been committed to letting each of my three children wean when they’re ready, at their pace, and it’s working wonderfully for us. I don’t have any regrets listening to my children and being there for them, emotionally, physically, nutritionally.

After I made this poster, I thought about the ‪#‎SixWords‬ social media campaign started by the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC). My poster only has 7 words but if I had to shorted it I’d say, “It’s about more than the milk.”

What does breastfeeding mean to you? Why are you letting your child wean when they’re ready? If you support breastfeeding like this post or share a 6 word comment on what breastfeeding means to you. ‪#‎NBM14‬ ‪#‎SixWords‬

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or comment below.

 

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Green Kale Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

It’s been ages since my last food post, hasn’t it? Well, today we made these nutty, green chocolate cookies and they were a hit. The girls loved making and eating them. Me too! I wish I had really paid attention to amounts to share a proper recipe but I just eye-balled it and they turned out perfect. So, that’s my warning. These amounts are just a rough guess of what I threw together in a bowl while my girls were stirring it all up. Tweak the batter if it looks too this or that, okay?

Kale Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

Makes about 18 cookies

  • 1 banana
  • 2 dragon kale leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the kale, eggs, and banana in your blender and blend until completely smooth. It took less than a minute in my Vitamix. Then pour the green goodness into a large bowl. Mix (or have your kids stir) in the rest of the ingredients with a spoon. My kids like smaller macadamia chunks so I blended those up a tiny bit before putting them in. If the batter is too liquid, keep adding almond flour and ingredients until it firms up. Stir in the coconut oil last. Spoon moist but firm blobs on a cookie tray (I didn’t grease the pan but maybe you could) and bake for 15 minutes, or until the tips of the cookies turn a little brown and they feel set. Gently scrape them off the pan with your thinnest spatula. I use a metal one and it works great. Let cool for a couple minutes and enjoy!

More details on my ingredients: I used eggs from my hens, they’re medium/small. For chocolate chips, I used Dragoba and they were great. Not too sweet but some people prefer cacao nibs. I use pink Himalayan sea salt for everything these days. I used Red Ape cinnamon and ground fresh nutmeg. Use less sugar, or try honey, or none if you’d like. They’re pretty sweet with the banana and chocolate and would probably taste just fine without any added sugar.

I had zero guilt giving these to my girls and eating them myself. Now it’s your turn. Tell me how your batch turns out. I hope my guesstimates weren’t that far off.

Do you think these look good or gross? Do you bake with kale or spinach? What is your favorite “healthy” cookie recipe? 

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or comment below.

**Update**

I made these again with a few spoon fulls of fresh blackberry jam (that I made with honey) instead of kale to try make them pink/purple. The batter was certainly purple but they are dark pink/purple/brown are they’re done. I cut out most of the sugar because I used jam and I forgot to add cinnamon. They turned out moist and yummy again.

 

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Gaston County school employee tells mother to breastfeed in the bathroom, breaking North Carolina’s breastfeeding law

A North Carolina school’s actions towards a breastfeeding mother and child attracted national attention this week. Jennifer Harvey was breastfeeding her 7-month-old daughter in the administration office of Gaston County School on Monday morning when an employee approached her and told her to move to the bathroom. Jennifer said she had already removed herself from a busy meeting room  (which was filled with other parents and children) to the nearly empty lobby and covered herself and her baby. Despite going above and beyond what was necessary to make others comfortable, she was confronted by a woman with a scrunched her nose up that said, “Not here. We have a bathroom and we have a bench.”

Watch the interview:

The school’s slogan certainly appears to be at odds with their employee’s actions, unless they really are hoping to shape the future in a way that doesn’t align with state law and give our fellow human beings consideration and respect.

What is the breastfeeding law in North Carolina?

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9 (1993) states that a woman is allowed to breastfeed in any public or private location, and that she is not in violation of indecent exposure laws. (HB 1143)

Thankfully, the school district has apologized but a proper breastfeeding policy in alignment with state law and district wide training on the policy would benefit all employees and Gaston County families. Especially since their apology still included the statement that the mother shouldn’t have really breastfed there. A schools spokesman said there are cameras in the lobby and halls of the building for public safety and “it’s is probably not the best place to nurse a child.”

Hopefully the spokesperson doesn’t speak for all employees and their thoughts on the incident because a child should be fed when and where they are hungry and need comfort. There is nothing obscene or indecent about feeding a baby.

How can you help?

Feel free to contact the school district and ask for their breastfeeding policy. If they really pride themselves on shaping the future, they should support breastfeeding moms and teaching children what the biological norm for our species is. A class on infant feeding would benefit the children in each of the 55 schools in the district so hopefully they won’t grow up thinking it’s okay to harass a mother for merely nourishing her child.

What do you think of the Gaston County School’s response to their employee’s actions? What is your school district’s breastfeeding policy? 

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or comment below.

 

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Bare Breasted in San Francisco – International Go-Topless Day #FreeTheNipple

Go Topless Day, San Francisco: Today, I joined with people around the world to call attention to inequality for women to bare their chests in public. It’s legal in San Francisco but in many other cities and countries, men are allowed a freedom that women are denied. It’s time to free the nipple.

As a breastfeeding woman, I find it fitting that the day that Go Topless Day is celebrated on always falls on the Sunday closest to Women’s Equality Day, August 26th, and August is also National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

San Francisco’s celebration was held at the beautiful Dolores Park in the Mission District. The hills were crowded with hundreds people of all ages enjoying the sun, mostly guys enjoying their top freedom, but there were a dozen or so women letting the sun kiss their bare chests as well. That was just in our little section though. I bet there were more sprinkled all over the park. I spent the afternoon with my cousin and my 6-month-old baby. We met the organizer, Felix Clairvoyant, early on in the afternoon and hours later, even after we’d left and gone for lunch and came back, he was still there celebrating the day with the other men and women.

All in all, it was a wonderful event. I have a really positive feeling about the day.

Here are some photos from the event:

This group photo was taken before more people arrived. I’m hoping to add a few other photos from other participants later.

[Updated photos]

[Women holding signs to support equal rights. Photo by Felix Clairvoyant]

[Rally group photo by Felix Clairvoyant]

The San Francisco Women’s Shelter was right around the corner from the park and I had to take a few photos to share. I really appreciate the murals in all of their glory. There is no censorship of women and their nipples on this building.

Here is a photo of Quint breastfeeding next to the mother and child in the painting.

I can’t believe it’s already been two years since I realized this inequality after hearing about how female toplessness was legal in New York City. After reading that it was also legal in San Francisco, I took my babies and my breasts to the beach and breastfed topless at Baker Beach. Since then, San Francisco banned public nudity and I was hesitant to head out again and let my skin breathe a bit until this event. It was nice to see a couple of familiar faces from the photos from last year’s event.

If just a few of the hundreds of people in the park and passing by today thought about the stigmas that are placed on women and why women are not accepted for who they are, I will consider today a success. If there were any other breastfeeding mothers at the park, I hope they were breastfeeding without covers with pride.

I shared this message and a call to end gender discrimination on Facebook:

Drop the female nipple ban altogether. Men post photos of their bare chests all day long running, sun bathing, holding their babies. In many cities and countries around the world, women have the right to bare their chests. Why are only breastfeeding women allowed to share one spare nipple on Facebook? It’s just a bit of flesh. Weren’t we all born naked and fed from our mothers? Why criminalize women and their breasts?

Join us. Celebrate the female body. It’s time for you to update your community standards to reflect gender equality.

I hope one day they’ll listen.

Did you attend your local event? What do you think of this blatant inequality and the policing of women for having breasts?

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or comment below.

**Update 8.27.2014**

A protester in Chicago, Illinois was harassed by the police and ticketed for being topless. Watch the video on YouTube. This is gender discrimination, pure and simple. Breasts are not genitals. They are not sex organs. Equal freedom for men & women is all we’re looking for. Women shouldn’t be treated as criminals for just enjoying the sun on their skin

Related:

Public outraged by Anthropologie’s unlawful policy to escort breastfeeding mothers out of view, tells mothers to feed on toilet

[Beverly Hills Anthropologie store actions caused international uproar - Image from Google]

National Breastfeeding Month: Anthropologie, an American women’s clothing & housewares retailer headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has come under public scrutiny after a breastfeeding harassment incident in Beverly Hills, California, brought to light an unwritten corporate policy to flag and remove breastfeeding mothers across the nation from their sales floors.

What happened? Ingrid Wiese-Hesson had just completed her shopping with her six-week-old son for some nursing friendly items at the Anthropologie in Beverly Hills when her son began crying and needed to breastfeed. California Civil Code § 43.3 allows a mother to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private. Just as soon as she sat down on a chair in the back of the store with her bags, filled with hundreds of dollars of purchases, to nurse him, she was approached quickly and escorted off the sales floor by the manager and into an employee bathroom that didn’t have a chair.

Ingrid said the manager’s exact words to her were, “’I’m here to escort you to the ladies room so that you can finish breastfeeding.’” She was not given a choice. She was shamed and embarrassed so she followed the manager and when they arrived at the bathroom, the manager noted, “Sorry, we don’t have a chair.” She finished breastfeeding on the toilet. When Ingrid called the store later to talk about the incident, the manager told her she moved her for her comfort and the comfort of other customers’ varying cultures.

After I shared this story on my Facebook page, the minute I heard about it earlier this week, I learned that this is how employees across the nation are trained to treat breastfeeding mothers and children. They are told to relocate mothers quickly and quietly, telling them it’s to respect other cultures of customers in the store.

This training of employees to move breastfeeding mothers out of view isn’t new. My friend here in the Bay Area told me she was trained to move breastfeeding mothers into fitting rooms when she worked at Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret has had multiple public blowouts after their employees’ harassment of breastfeeding mothers hit social media and the news. All for using their breasts for babies instead of for sex. Anthropologie sells clothing to women but doesn’t want their “high-end” customers to see a beautiful, natural act of love and nurture?

The problem with the Anthropologie employee’s actions in California is that they broke the law. When someone harasses a breastfeeding mother in California, they violate California’s Civil Code section 51, the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Discrimination against a breastfeeding mother is considered sex discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and is protected and enforced by the law. Anthropologie is looking at a fine for their discrimination. State laws across the country also protect the right breastfeed in public.

Over a hundred mothers and supporters gathered at the offending Anthropologie location on August 20th for a peaceful protest, or nurse-in.

Ingrid Wiese Hesson shared this photo publicly on Facebook with the caption, “100+ women Breastfeeding at the Beverly Hills anthropologie!!! Mommy strong! Refuse to move! Know your rights!!”

Corporate hasn’t responded in an appropriate way as of yet, acknowledging the mistreatment, making amends, and promising to train staff state laws regarding breastfeeding.

This was their copy-paste non-apology that they posted on their Facebook page earlier this week after their actions attracted international attention:

In case you cannot read it, is says:

“We are disappointed to hear of the unfortunate experience that occurred in our Beverly Hills store. As a company comprised of hundreds of mothers, which seeks to put the customer first, we celebrate women in all of their life stages. Given our staff’s dedication to providing exceptional customer service, we welcome this as an opportunity to enhance our customer experience by providing further training and education for our staff. Our aim is that all women – all mothers – be comfortable in our stores and delight in their relationship with Anthropologie.”

They didn’t mention breastfeeding once. Jennifer Pitkin of Family Friendly Business says their response “doesn’t even begin to cover what needs to happen. Training and formal policy need to be instituted immediately.” I agree.

What is the problem with harassing breastfeeding mothers?

Besides damaging the mother & child’s breastfeeding relationship, when people tell mothers to cover up, move or stop breastfeeding or that sharing their breastfeeding photos online is crass, it speaks to our culture’s problem with women. Women-shaming is a worldwide issue, from treating women like property to be sold, raping and killing them on a whim. In first-world countries, misogynists like to tell mothers they don’t have the right to feed their babies from their breasts, that it isn’t acceptable, that it’s an offense against the public, that it traumatizes young witnesses and lures married men into impure thoughts. State laws say otherwise, that breastfeeding isn’t obscene or indecent, but bullies don’t care. They never do. It’s always their way or the highway.

Anthropologie trains their staff to hide breastfeeding mothers away in the fitting rooms or bathrooms. Impeding a breastfeeding mother and her child is an unlawful, discriminatory practice.

How can you help?

Anthropologie is part of a larger problem but we can help stop their mistreatment here in America. Until they publicly address the specific incident and state they will train staff nationwide on a breastfeeding policy that is compliant with the law to keep this from happening again, refuse to support their business or Urban Outfitters, who owns Anthropologie. Send them a message. Let them know, respectfully, how this incident makes you feel, how they can make amends to this mother and the public. Then contact the state representative to ensure laws are upheld at the city level. Kamala Harris California’s attorney general, should also hear about this.

Offending location: Anthropologie, 211 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Phone: (310) 385-7390
Corporate: (215) 454-5500
Message: http://www.urbn.com/profile/contact_officers.html
Tweet @Anthropologie
Write on their Facebook page wall: Anthropologie

Kamala Harris – California Attorney General
Attorney General’s Office
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Call (916) 322-3360
Tweet @KamalaHarris
Report a crime
File a complaint against a business online

What do you think of the Anthropolie’s response to their employee’s actions? What do you think of their unwritten corporate policy to move all breastfeeding mothers off of the sales floor? 

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or comment below.

 

**Update**

My message to Anthropologie on their Facebook page:

Anthropologie:

I am sure you are aware by now that your manager of Anthropologie in Beverly Hills escorted a mother, Ingrid Wiese-Hesson, to breastfeed her son in the bathroom without asking. Former employees have stated that your company’s breastfeeding policy is to move moms out of public view, off of the sales floor. This is unacceptable and unlawful treatment of women.

Clearly, you can see the public values proper treatment of mothers and children and following the law. Discrimination and harassment of mothers & babies is not treated lightly. Your employee violated California’s Civil Code section 51, the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Discrimination against a breastfeeding mother is considered sex discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and is protected and enforced by the law, and who knows how many other employees are in violation of their own state laws.

When Barnes & Noble made this mistake earlier this year, they owned up to their mistake and apologized. Corporate sent out international breastfeeding symbol stickers to all 661+ of their US stores to place in their front doors, paid $10K to their local breastfeeding coalition, and promised staff training at the offending store and sent a memo to all stores to make sure everyone was on the same page with regards to how they should treat breastfeeding families. It is really simple. Please leave breastfeeding mothers alone, or feel free to offer water and treat them respect but do not to ask them to move or cover.

How can you ensure this type of mistreatment doesn’t happen again in any of your locations? Please contact Family Friendly Business (familyfriendlybusiness@gmail.com) to get help with staff training on proper breastfeeding handling and to get some helpful suggestions on how to make amends to Ingrid Wiese-Hesson, her son, and your global community.

Regards,
Paala Secor
Advocate, Blogger

PS – On a personal note, all of my professional breastfeeding & pregnancy photos for the last two years have been taken while wearing your dresses. They’ve even been featured on international parenting magazines. I hope I don’t have to boycott your store because I do love your clothes.

***

My portraits in Anthro dresses.

[Tandem breastfeeding my children, while pregnant, wearing an Anthropologie dress. Photo by Sweetness and Light Photography]

[Tandem breastfeeding my children, wearing an Anthropologie dress. Photo by Sweetness and Light Photography. Other photos from this series were featured in international parenting magazines.]

[Breastfeeding my toddler, wearing an Anthropologie dress. Photo by Sweetness and Light Photography.]

[Breastfeeding my toddler, wearing an Anthropologie dress. Photo by Sweetness and Light Photography.]

[34 weeks pregnant, wearing an Anthropologie dress. Photo by Sweetness and Light Photography.]

Related:

One moment in my day: Skin-to-skin breastfeeding my six-month-old

A moment from my day. I cherish these sweet snuggles with my baby. If I could turn back time, I would have spent more time snuggling with my first two children, breastfeeding skin-to-skin. No barriers. I have no regrets about lost bonding time with my third child though.

Do you spend enough time skin-to-skin with your little one(s)? 

Join the conversation on Facebook or comment below.

 

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