Melanie Dudley is on a mission to stand up for the rights of breastfeeding moms everywhere after pulling a rather hilarious public stunt in a hotel bistro with her 4-month-old baby. The stunt got her point well and truly across.
Dudley, a 34-year-old full-time mom from Austin, Texas, has 4-year-old twins and a young baby. She took the request to “cover up” to its logical extreme on a recent trip to eat out, and the awesome photo taken by her husband has had the internet in fits of giggles ever since.
I love my daughter-in-law so much!!! Someone told her to “cover up” while she was feeding my grandson #5 in a restaurant!! 😂😂😂😂😂💕💕💕💕💕💕💕
The mom admitted to Yahoo Lifestyle that she thought of the gesture on the spot. “I was on vacation in Cabo San Lucas with my entire family,” Dudley began, “and a man asked me to cover myself. I’m usually discreet,” she added, “but we were seated in the back of the restaurant.” Dudley, annoyed by the unreasonable request, asked her husband to pass her a shirt and promptly threw it over her face; her husband snapped a photo.
Kitty Yannone, Dudley’s mother-in-law, shared the photo on her Facebook page, celebrating Dudley’s dedication to nursing and her bold public dismissal of being told to cover herself up. “I love my daughter-in-law so much!” Yannone captioned. The photo was shared again by one of Yannone’s friends on social media, who gave her own shout out to the young mom’s ballsy move. “A friend’s daughter-in-law was told to ‘cover up’ while feeding her baby, so she did!” wrote Carol Lockwood. “I’ve never met her, but I think she’s awesome!”
— The Bump (@thebump) September 21, 2017
In Dudley’s defense, Lockwood added that it was 90 degrees and extremely humid on the day that Dudley staged the photo. With Dudley’s express permission, Lockwood then urged people to pay it forward: “I’m so over people shaming women for nursing!” she wrote.
Public breastfeeding is still divisive, and opinions from both ends of the spectrum flooded in in response to Dudley’s gag. “Nothing wrong with breastfeeding,” one person shared, “but I feel they should cover themselves. Not their heads, but the exposed area.” Another quite firmly disagreed: “You should be able to feed babies when they are hungry and not feel bad,” they said. “It’s a natural thing to do!”
So while at McDonald's today I was breastfeeding my 2 month old son a lady told me her husband was staring at me and…
Flying the flag for the middle ground, one person had a diplomatic approach: “Most women do use a cover,” they began, “but if they choose not to, then the people who are offended should look away and not stare. Even children don’t stare as much as some adults do,” they commented.
Taking nothing away from the awesomeness of Dudley’s public display of defiance, she is not the first mom to have a creative response to being told to cover up. In 2017, Nicolle Blackman was feeding her 3-month-old son Cameron when she was asked to cover up in a Washington state McDonald’s. A female customer approached her and complained that Blackman’s public breastfeeding was monopolizing her husband’s attention. “I was very annoyed when she said that,” Blackman told The Independent, who comically covered her face instead.
The woman who complained grabbed her staring husband and left.
“Why would I cover up my son?” Blackman questioned. “He holds his breath when he’s covered! I noticed he was staring,” she said, referring to the other woman’s husband. “I understand people are curious and it doesn’t bother me. I’m going to feed my son regardless.”
Public breastfeeding is legal in all 50 states, and Dudley, our latest freedom advocate, hopes that her photo continues to build momentum for all moms who choose to breastfeed publicly. Being told to cover up is simply “another layer” that exhausted moms could do without. “Breastfeeding is hard enough!” Dudley said.