Imagine you’re in a public place, like a store or a restaurant. A mother with a baby lifts her shirt or blouse up to let her child breastfeed. While most people would say it’s a part of nature, there are those out there who still criticize women for doing this in public. In fact, breastfeeding in public was only legalized in all 50 states this past year.
To find out what people would do when confronted with a mother being attacked for feeding her baby in public, John Quiñones and the team from ABC’s What Would You Do? went to the Colonial Diner in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, last year.
A woman was told by Air Canada to take her baby to the airplane bathroom to breastfeed:…
In this scenario, an actor played a young mom eating lunch alone with what looked like a baby, mostly covered under her stretched T-shirt. First, the show had a female actor portraying a middle-aged woman also eating alone, who complains first to the breastfeeding mom, then to other diners, and even to the manager.
The angry diner claims that having to see a baby eating in public makes her feel uncomfortable and prevents her from enjoying her lunch. She claims that the young mother is “exposing” herself in public and tries to make her go to the bathroom to finish feeding.
But the other customers at the Colonial Diner weren’t having any of it. They tell the complaining woman that if she’s so upset by the situation, she can sit somewhere else to face in a different direction or change her table. As one woman who intervenes says, “it’s tough enough for a mom to go out by herself with a newborn, and then to have to deal with that.”
Other diners point out to the angry woman that breastfeeding is a normal and natural act and should be treated as such. “Babies have to eat. Mothers need to be able to feed their babies when they’re hungry,” another woman chimes in.
Tomorrow night on #WWYD, a mother is shamed for breastfeeding her baby in public. What would you say to the critical woman? What if it was a man?#wwydabc #breastfeeding
To see how gender might affect the situation, Quiñones sends in a male actor to play the role of the complaining diner. When he starts in on the mom, claiming that watching her breastfeed is “gross” and ruining his appetite, a man eating with his wife and son steps in. “What I find offensive is that you’re trying to make the lady feel bad.”
His son, who was visibly upset watching the incident, is relieved after the man leaves. “And the bully is gone!” he exclaims after the angry diner leaves the restaurant. Meanwhile, his dad tells Quiñones that “if something’s not right, you’ve got to speak up.”
In the show’s final incident, one man went above and beyond to defend the mom, getting up out of his booth to go confront the angry diner. “There’s nothing wrong with it. Go face the other way, go into another section if you don’t like it.” He eventually sits down at the angry woman’s table, telling her that he hopes his presence will make her as uncomfortable as her comments have been making the young mom.
His comments to Quiñones are the perfect ending to a heartwarming episode. The mom’s “doing nothing wrong. She’s doing what’s in the best interest of the child, which should always be the case.”