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Controversial Breastfeeding Photos

Are Photos of Breastfeeding Considered Obscene?

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Updated July 03, 2014

breastfeeding photos

Breastfeeding photos elicit strong opinions when they are publicly shared.

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If you're a nursing mother, you likely consider the experience to be an important part of your baby's first year. Unfortunately, the issue of whether or not a mother should take breastfeeding photos is much more controversial than photographing any other aspect of your baby's development.

Public Controversies Surrounding Photos of Breastfeeding

Most breastfeeding pictures involve no more nudity than a picture of a woman wearing a bikini, but many people still consider the act of breastfeeding itself to be somewhat taboo and are thus inclined to feel strongly about whether or not pictures of breastfeeding women are appropriate.

In the media, breastfeeding photos regularly cause controversy. For example, BabyTalk, a magazine for new mothers, published a cover photo of a baby breastfeeding in 2006 and received a record number of complaint letters. The magazine regularly has articles discussing the benefits of breastfeeding and offering tips for nursing moms, but this was the first time such a photo had appeared on the cover.

Even celebrity breastfeeding photos aren't immune from criticism. In 2008, a photo of Angelina Julie breastfeeding appeared on the cover of the November issue of W Magazine. Only the side of her breast was visible, since the baby's hand was strategically covering her nipple. However, the photo created a great deal of controversy because many people were concerned it would sexualize the act of nursing. In January 2011, Victoria's Secret model Miranda Kerr posted a photo of her nursing her son Flynn on her official website. While she did receive comments complimenting the artistic nature of the photograph, a number of complaints were posted as well.

Sharing Your Breastfeeding Photos

Most mothers who choose to take breastfeeding photos simply want to have a private record of this special time in their baby's life. If you plan to share your photos with friends and family, however, you will want to investigate the policies of your photo developer carefully. In April 2011, women in Illinois staged a "nurse in" after a breastfeeding mother was told printing her photos violated a Meijer store policy regarding obscene images. Although the company declined to comment publicly, they did eventually print the mother's images as well as the breastfeeding photos of the other women who attended the event.

You may also run into some problems using social networking tools such as Facebook to share your breastfeeding pics. Facebook's terms of use state that visitors can't post photos that "attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence, or other violations of the Terms of Use. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site." Even though this does not expressly mention breastfeeding, there have been multiple reports of mothers having their Facebook breastfeeding pictures removed as a violation of the policy.

Making the Right Decision for You

Women have been breastfeeding their babies since the beginning of time, so there is certainly nothing "unnatural" about a nursing mother. While they are often controversial, breastfeeding photos are not legally considered to be pornographic or obscene images. The decision to take pictures of this part of your baby's life is purely a personal choice.

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