Breastfeeding Ad Sparks Controversy

nerdy woman

When you see a woman breastfeeding in public, how does it make you feel? Correction: When you see a woman breastfeeding in public without a cover, how does it make you feel?

An Oreo Cookie ad, labeled “Basic Instinct,” was recently released by a South Korean marketing and communications agency, showing a “baby at his mother’s breast with the tagline, ‘Milk’s favorite cookie.’”

There is some speculation on whether or not Nabisco has actually approved this ad, but many are firm when they say that, due to North America’s censorship standards, it would never appear here.

The article also mentions a recent public statement made by Facebook after they removed one mother’s “sexually explicit” breastfeeding photos.

“The vast majority of breastfeeding photos [on Facebook] are compliant with our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Facebook takes no action on such content. However, photos which contain a fully exposed breast, do violate our terms and may be removed if they are reported to us. These policies are based on the same standards that apply to television and print media. It is important to note that photos upon which we act are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain about them being shared on Facebook.”

Who was complaining about this woman’s personal photos? Other mothers? Men? Teens, or the parents of teens? Grandparents? Was her profile public?

Breastfeeding in public isn’t illegal … but it isn’t exactly accepted either. If it was, would ads like this potential Oreo ad begin to appear in our magazines, televisions, and billboards? Would you be okay with it?

All debates over the appropriateness of this ad aside, I like this ad – it’s clever, and it made me smile! I wonder if America has over-sexualized women’s breasts to the extent that we have placed a veil of fog over Mother Nature’s intended purpose of the breast. I wonder if the way a woman’s breasts are used in pornography is more accepted than a mother nursing her child in public without a cover.

I nursed my daughter on an airplane (I was in a window seat, and I had a cover). I nursed my daughter in restaurants (I would run to the bathroom and stand in one of the locked stalls). And I proudly say to all of you, I even nursed my daughter in a moving car, an achievement made by few (While she sat, buckled, in her rear-facing car seat, I – also remaining buckled – leaned over the edge and plopped my breast within reach. Still covered.). Even with my impressive attempts at covered, public nursing, I still received wide-eyes, or squinted, beady eyes, from onlookers (Are you really that shocked, or horrified? Do you ever think about just not looking?).

Are we too uptight, or should we be more proactive to conserve the sanctity of a woman’s nude body? While I personally preferred to remain covered, I have many friends who let it all hang out. I am not embarrassed, ashamed, horrified, nor looking for the closest exit for which to make my escape; to each her own!

What do you think? Are your boobs in, or out?

What do you think?

Breastfeeding Ad Sparks Controversy

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. Profile photo of Erin Erin says:

    I believe it modesty in public, but that goes for everyone. I don’t particularly want to see 95% of the people I see at say, the beach for example (or park, public pool etc) But I have no right to give dirty looks to the 200 pound lady in a string bikini or the flabby, wrinkly old man in the too tight speedo strutting up and down the beach. I do not want to see a women overtly whipping her boob out for the whole world to see either, but that rarely happens. I see lots of mothers breastfeeding and lots without a cover, but in a discreet manor. I breastfed my first baby (pregnant with second) and I understand fully how it is to have to feed my daughter in public. Given that, I don’t see the need to have my entire breast hanging out over my shirt. I don’t talk overly loud in public places because no one else is interested in hearing my conversation. I apply that theory to my boobs as well. I will say that if you are in your car (your personal property) do as you please.
    KaylinOas-you are awesome.

  2. Profile photo of Rosie2day Rosie2day says:

    I have breastfed three babys and am going to nurse this one too. I have nursed at a sheriffs office Christmas party across from THE Sheriff, and all his comment was that she sure whent to sleep easy. Have nursed at the laundry-mat and had a older gentleman walk up and rub my son’s head and say "they are so cute when they sleep". But I have to say the best one was when my hubby’s uncle came up kissed the top of my oldest head and tell me "she sure is a mama’s girl" we still haven’t told him she was nursing. The WORST!!!! breastfeeding mom I have ever seen was at a mixed company(guys & girls) meeting and this lady was wearing a camisole type top and just whipped it out :O I felt Sooooo bad for the speaker, it was a collage student and he about fell out of his chair 🙁 I was even embarrassed to see her do that. I think it’s those people that stick in the minds and make the rest of us look bad.

  3. I’ve bf’d in church as well!

  4. I breastfeed in public too. I use a cover and I guess the combination of me being a teen mom and nursing my son in public gives me quite a few glares, annoyed looks, and snide remarks. This is a great article. Thanks for talking about this very serious issue.

  5. Profile photo of Christina Christina says:

    I have breast fed 4 children, and plan on nursing the 5th one as well. I was usually covered, but even when I was not, I made certain that "not too much" was ever showing. Breast feeding is the reason we as human females are given breasts. Yes, I understand our society has made them sexual, however they are in fact a tool. You don’t see people gettin all upset about a girl walkin around in a bikini on the beach, and most women are more covered when nursing than that!

  6. Profile photo of Michele Michele says:

    When I was still breastfeeding, I would breastfeed in public. I’d try to be discrete, but at the same time, I didn’t use a cover after the first month- he hated having anything on his head, and it was too hot when it got to summertime for me to want to cover him up. I don’t necessarily want to cause anybody to feel uncomfortable- but we need to realize that the ‘sanctity of a woman’s nude body’ isn’t necessarily compromised by breastfeeding in public- and, in my humble opinion, it promotes said sanctity, in its own way. We build a life inside of ourselves and maintain the connection for up to a year or more of the baby’s life, and breastfeeding is just a reminder of what our bodies are capable of.
    Furthermore- modern sexualized fashions for young girls and skin-baring fashions for all ages are doing more to degrade women than breastfeeding in public will EVER do.

  7. Profile photo of miranda miranda says:

    IT is simply not okay for someone to tell me that I can not nurse my son. I am a nursing mother and I will nurse my son wherever I am. If i have acover handy then sure, I try to cover myself. However if he is being fussy and won’t let me keep the cover over him by unlatching constantly or grabbing the cover and pulling it off then too bad for any on lookers. I have never once gotten a dirty look. A few uncomfortable men have unsucessfuly tried to not look while being curious, but it is just wrong to me to think that I am suppose to starve my sweet precious baby simply because someone wants to think that my boobs are sexual objects not meant to be seen in public.

  8. Profile photo of JenniDunfee JenniDunfee says:

    You know many breastfeeding moms either don’t pump or can’t? I personally could never let down with a pump. Also it can actually HURT you milk supply to pump. So all breastfeeding mothers should just suck it up and pump anyways to make you feel comfortable?

    And yes, drinking from a bottle can make your baby stop wanting the breast. If you feel obligated to bottle feed every time you’re in public because people are too immature to handle it you may end up with a baby that only wants bottles or you may feel like you’ve lost the right to venture out in public because feeding your baby might offed someone, boo.

    You seem very ignorant about breastfeeding.

  9. Profile photo of martha martha says:

    You go mommy! I use covers….but I know that if women are strategic about feeding you aren’t exposing boob much. That’s besides the point anyway! People these days rather watch Jersey Shore and see snookie show her @ss and thong and boobs….so shameful society is nowadays.

  10. Profile photo of martha martha says:

    I totally get your point of view, but for example….I have a newborn and there’s a period of time where you’re both learning and using a bottle too early causes nipple confusion for the infant. So I’m in full support of feed off the tap 24/7 till the baby at least has BF down and he’s a few months lld. I however and a nursing cover lady, I don’t expose boobs those are my babys to see or husbands lol. Bonding with grandparents can also be by holding, singing, soothing, sleeping, bathing…etc.

  11. Profile photo of martha martha says:

    Society sucks! And who dictates what’s socially acceptable in this close minded country? In countries like Mexico its perfectly acceptable to see a mother nursing her baby exposed breast and all. Not that mothers walk around with a boob fully exposed because its not like that, the baby is covering most of the nipple and who cares?! Boobs were meant for that. I find it more shameful that a woman who has kids finds it disgusting to breastfeed. How do you associate BF with sex? I love my boobs for foreplay, but when I’m breastfeeding they are off limits and yeah I miss the use of them for sex but there’s a time for that later. I personally cover myself in public, I’m shy. I havet had stares lately either, but I dare them to. When I BF my 10 yr old son I got nasty looks from people cuz I had to nurse in Dennys. I wish I hadn’t been so niave and said something. Come on oreo commercial! 🙂

  12. Profile photo of Lisa Lisa says:

    I also feel it is like this : A baby also HAS to have diaper changes. But despite it being natural to change a diaper, a health benefit to change a diaper and would be detrimental to everyone to not do it, I am not going to put my baby on a table in the dining room at Olive Garden and change her. I will discreetly remove her and do it in private. If she spits up, I will quietly clean her up at the table, but I won’t make a production out of it. That is how I see these women who are whipping out a breast with no cover to breastfeed. They are doing it for the attention, whether positive or negative, they get attention and get to be noble and self-sacrificing about having an infant. If it is positive, they get to bask in the glow of approval that they are doing something so wonderful for their infant. If it is negative, they get to be self-righteous and ‘How Dare You?!’ about how they choose to be a parent.

    This is all based on my own opinion and observation of how women act. I have attended LLL meetings and the rhetoric they spew is that if you aren’t on-tap, you are a horrible person. Oh they flower it up with nice language and positive reinforcement, but that is what it is. When I pulled out a bottle of breastmilk, I was looked at like the an outcast.

    Breast or no breast, be a mom first and an advocate and soapbox talker second. That, above anything else, is the best you can do for your baby.

  13. Profile photo of Lisa Lisa says:

    I take no issue with breastfeeding mothers. I tried to be one myself. However, I would never force my beliefs or actions on others in a public environment. Even being an attempted breastfeeder, I was slightly uncomfortable when I watched another woman pop out a breast, full nipple show and attempt to latch on her 11 month old son with no cover. And you are right, staring will get you a rude glare, but looking away will get you attacked for being ‘anti-breast’, even if you are just trying to be polite by not staring. How would these women like us to handle it?

    As for the ‘what else do they want us to do, not feed our baby?!’ arguments. I know many mom’s who were breastmilk only either by choice or necessity, but they would plan ahead and pump a bottle just in case they ended up in a too-public situation. Just because you want to breastfeed doesn’t mean the child HAS to be on the tap at all times. Feedings from a ‘boob-friendly’ bottle on occasion will not cause your child to hate you, will not starve the child and will not shatter the bonding you have already done.

    I also noticed that despite being a breastfeeder when my daughter was born, and the grandparents being happy for the breastmilk benefits, it did make them a bit wistful that they couldn’t feed the baby and have that feeling of bonding themselves as well. It made me happy to pump extra to let them have that experience that they wouldn’t have gotten had I been an ‘On Tap Only’ person.

  14. Profile photo of JenniDunfee JenniDunfee says:

    I breastfeed in public all the time. No covers for my little guy, he would start sweating profusely and wouldn’t feed. I found out later he has asthma and always wondered if he felt smothered by the blanket and heat. No cover didn’t mean I had my boob hanging out. Thanks to a nursing bra, baby boy’s head, and a little strategic placement of my shirt I never showed anything. Most the time people never even realized that he was nursing (I even did it in church, GASP!). I nursed in movie theaters, restaurants, parks, many stores, already mentioned church, the car (stopped on the side of the road, lol), etc. Never once got a dirty look, or maybe I was oblivious?

    I think the big problem is that we immediately associate nudity and breasts with sexual activity, so to be forced to confront the innocence of a baby’s mouth upon a woman’s nipple versus viewing the nipple and breast in a sexualized way makes people uncomfortable. Much easier to hide away anything that challenges the way people think. Boobies, yuck! Who wants to see those in any way, other than how a 15 year old boy sees them, right? Much better to see them jiggling around in a Victoria Secret ad than to see them nourishing a baby.

  15. Profile photo of Krystal Krystal says:

    as a new mom and a breastfeeding mom when my darter was first born i told my bf i would never breastfeeding in public but now she 10 weeks it has changed we us covers and if their is a melt down i do not wait till we get in the car if you have a problem with it you can go sit in your car but my child is a baby and her needs come first women have feed their baby like this for years so i think if it makes you uncomfortable you need to get over it

  16. I bf in public all the time. I have 4 kids under 4, it’s not fair for the older 3 to have to stay home or follow me into a restroom bc baby sister is nursing. I’ve only ever had one bad experience. I was nursing in a parking lot while texting and looked up to see a horrified older man staring at me and shaking his head. When my kids and I entered the store he was eating at the food court and so I sat down at the table beside him and proceeded to stare at him with a horrified expression shaking my head. When he asked what was wrong I simply said, "oh sorry I just thought this was what was acceptable when someone was eating" he was confused and I explained that I was the woman breast feeding in the parking lot and my daughter has just as much right to eat at this store as he does. He did apologize.

  17. Profile photo of KaalaMyers KaalaMyers says:

    Honestly? It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know how to react – obviously I shouldn’t stare, but obviously ignoring/avoiding someone is just as rude. I’m very uncomfortable in public as it is – something that’s a social ‘taboo’ just makes it that much worse on me.

  18. Profile photo of JanCrisco JanCrisco says:

    Women who breast feed should be commended and encouraged. They should not be frowned upon in any way. I nursed all four of my children for a year+ each. You almost have no choice but to nurse in public. If your baby is hungry, you are going to feed it. It is the healthiest thing for a newborn and yet it is so challenging, especially for a new mom. If people are that offended then they shouldn’t look! Here’s to all the mom’s that attempt to breastfeed, and the one’s who stick to it! Your baby will be so much better off =)

  19. Profile photo of NikkiC12 NikkiC12 says:

    I am pregnant with our first and I am looking forward to breastfeeding our son…I don’t care if I am in public or not. I do plan to use a cover but I’m sure I will still get the dirty looks. It amazes me that people can be so prudish and disgusted by something so natural and normal. For crying out loud…formula hasn’t always existed!!!!


Get a FREE Newborn Sleep Guide when you sign up for our newsletter

By joining the community, you will have access to our active community of mothers just like you, interactive tools, sweepstakes, free baby offers and more! You will also receive customized newsletters tailored specifically to you and special offers directly in your inbox.By joining the community, you will have access to our active community of mothers, interactive tools, sweepstakes, free baby offers, customized email newsletters tailored specifically to you and special offers directly in your inbox.

Due Date or Baby's Birth Date

By clicking the "Join Now" button you are agreeing to the terms of use and privacy policy.

Send this to a friend