After spending $150 at a Victoria’s Secret in Austin, Texas, Ashley Clawson asked to breastfeed her son in a dressing room at the store. She was denied and directed towards an alleyway where she could breastfeed because “no one really goes there.” An alleyway?!?! Jesus.
When she got home, Ashley posted a status on her Facebook page that read:
“I have to blast Victoria’s Secret at the Domain for telling me I wasn’t aloud to nurse my very hungry, fussy son in their fitting room after I spent a fair amount in their store. She actually told me to go outside and walk down an alley where no one ‘usually’ goes and nurse him. Seriously?!? Lost a customer for sure.”
She then filed two complaints with Victoria’s Secret and her story was picked up by her local Fox affiliate, Fox 7. Good for her for bringing some publicity to the rude, ignorant way she was treated.
Clearly, it’s beyond ironic that the most boobilicious store at the mall wouldn’t let a mother feed her baby in a dressing room. In a fucking dressing room! Ashley Clawson had the right to feed her baby right out in front beside the PINK underwear and ugly satin bras, under Texas law. But she was modest enough to want to breastfeed in a dressing room and she was still banished to a random alley by an employee.
It just really baffles me that this continues to happen to women all over the country, on military bases, at recreation centers, on airplanes, and on and on. I feel like I see a story like this every few weeks! Obviously, as someone who writes for Mommyish and as a doula, I’m extra-sensitive to the rights of breastfeeding women. But, tell me, do the store employees and public officials of the United States not read the news? Do they not ever see these stories, which pop up often local news stations and the Huffington Post? Do they know zero women who have ever breastfed a child? Do they not pay attention in their trainings, which must, at least a tiny bit, detail how to manage customers with these kinds of requests? How, in 2014, can anyone still think it’s appropriate to tell any woman where she can or cannot feed her baby? I just do not get it. I know I live in a mother/baby friendly bubble, but I still just DO NOT get it.
Thankfully, Victoria’s Secret has responded in a positive way to this incident, affirming that their associates will be fully informed about the right of mothers to breastfeed in their stores:
“We take this issue very seriously. We have a longstanding policy permitting mothers to nurse their children in our stores and we are sorry that it was not followed in this case. We have apologized to Ms. Clawson, and we are taking actions to ensure all associates understand our policy that welcomes mothers to breastfeed in our stores.”
But every time another incident of this kind happens, I’m reminded that education about breastfeeding rights needs to go beyond individual stores and individual policies. Apparently, there are still people out there who do not know that the vast majority of states support a woman’s right to nurse in any location.
Photo: WireImage via Getty Images