About two weeks ago, we were taking the train with a very excited little boy who was visiting us. He was glued to the window, taking in the sights of the big city, and with all his excitement we couldn’t help but do the same. We looked out, admired the buildings, awed by the height of the city and the rhythm of the people walking through it. It was a most peaceful and enjoyable ride into the city, that is, until I saw this.

Breastfeeding is Tacky

At that moment, the excitement and magic of a train ride through the city stopped and, unfortunately for my companions, the ranting began.

Really?! People think this way?! A company would actually use this as an advertisement?!

I was, and still am, outraged and working on what to do about it. I have thought about many responses and yet I can’t really come up with something suitable, something that will get through to the company, those viewing the sign, and will make me feel better, like I’ve done something.

Anyways, as we were headed out of town for the holidays, we passed by the same ad. They most have gotten some sort of response already because now, right next to the original we saw a few weeks ago, there is this one:

Breastfeeding is No Big Deal

I guess the counterpoint is nice, but it seems so, disingenuous.

After all my early struggles with breastfeeding, and pushing through to make it work, I have found myself becoming quite passionate about a woman’s right to breastfeed and a baby’s right to nurse. I am continually frustrated by the culture in which we live and how it perceives and reacts to breastfeeding. This ad is just a single, poignant example of an unnecessary obstacle that mothers have to overcome when offering their babe the best nourishment available.

How can I, or we, help everyone else see it so clearly?

  • Ella

    I am equally outraged! You, being an articulate and thoughtful writer, should do a letter to the editor of some local paper. Make your voice heard! what is this “chicago now” thing? write to them! or write to a paper that publishes community voices.
    “No big deal” really doesn’t capture point of the issue at all, you could do much better.


  • Annie @ PhD in Parenting

    O M G

    That is absolutely horrific.

    1) I can’t believe anyone wrote that comment
    2) I can’t believe this company thought it was appropriate to put on advertising around the city
    3) Most people looking at that are not going to know what Chicago NOW is. It could be the tourism board or something like that.

    That opinion is offensive in general, but is even more offensive when put up in a public place. I must admit though, if I saw it I would be tempted to breastfeed my 2 year old while she mooned the sign or something like that.


    Danielle Reply:

    I agree that the opinion is offensive, I just feel so awful that it is up there, for all to read, especially newly pregnant women or newly nursing moms. I feel like we are all so volatile at those points in our paths as mothers, seeming something like this may be enough to make a woman reconsider her decision to nurse.


  • Summer

    Wow, seriously? I have no idea what Chicago Now is, and I’m not interested in finding out after their first sign. Just tacky, tacky, tacky.


  • Carol @ Lactivist Leanings

    Chicago Now is “Chicago’s finest blog about all things Chicago.” *rolling my eyes until they break* Looks like they are using their comments section as an advertising tool for the site. I’d be interested to know who they were buying ad space from to contact. That would probably go further than any contact with Chicago Now.


    Danielle Reply:


    They were buying ad space from the Chicago Transit Authority. The ad is posted at the “Armitage” stop on the El.



    Wouldn’t it be great if Chicago Now put up our ad instead? Our PSAs were endorsed by Gabrielle Reece, Kelly Rutherford, the President of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, the founder of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine . . . and are fun and cheeky, not fear- or guilt-inducing! Have a look: We are inviting everyone to participate and outmarket these bumbleclots.


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  • Melodie

    I have never seen something so offensive. I guess they’re trying to show that they run opinions of all kinds so not to discriminate??? (This is a publication I assume?) But by running this they are discriminating! Wow. I like Annie, would want to whip out my boob and feed my 2 1/2 year old and then have our picture taken next to the sign and send it in with a nasty letter – just to spite them.


    Danielle Reply:


    If it weren’t so damn cold here in Chicago right now I would be all about nursing in front of the sign. But, alas, it seems to be winter.

    It isn’t a publication, it is a discussion-based website.


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  • @AngEngland

    Wow. Just….wow.

    Angela < P.S. LOL Annie!


  • Erin W.

    I’m appalled by this. I can’t say I’m surprised by it, but it absolutely disgusts me. I’m with Annie – I want to know who this Chicago NOW company is. Obviously they’re an advertising company – is there any way to find out who placed that ad?


    Danielle Reply:

    @Erin W.

    Chicago NOW isn’t actually an advertising company, it is a blog-type website for Chicagoans to read and discuss issues, local and not-so-local. And yes, the website does aim to incite discussion and inspire disagreement, but to me, this ad goes a little too far. Is it just because I am a breastfeeding mom that this hits such a nerve?


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  • Mom



  • thalia

    Not sure you should be outraged. Given (i) there are 2 of them expressing opposite points of view and (ii) the tagline is “open for discussion” I think they are being purposely provocative, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


    Danielle Reply:


    Yes, there are 2 opposing points of view expressed. But, recall, that wasn’t always the case. The first time I passed by the sign, only the original ad, that breastfeeding in public is tacky, was around. I’m guessing that the second was placed out of obligation, not out of even-handedness. Second, the “open for discussion” tagline does make it seem that people are free to disagree, which is true. BUT, the tagline is so very small compared to the bigger message and isn’t what is noticeable from the start. I get that they are trying to be purposely provocative, and I can appreciate that, but I think that there are some things that aren’t fit to print to gain such a reaction. Filling the basic human needs of very small people, by feeding them in the most natural way when they need to eat, is one of those things, to me.


  • The Maven

    That was a little much. I’m thinking back to when I was a new, twenty-year-old mom and working hard at breastfeeding. If I had seen ads like that, I might have stayed in the bathroom stalls to nurse (yes, I did that for a couple of months) before venturing out into the open where my baby deserved to be fed.

    That ad went too far. I’m going to link to your blog from mine and discuss this topic, too. Thank you!


  • Amber Morrisey


    Has anyone written them?


  • Amber

    That is so upsetting. In an effort to be ‘provocative’, they are spreading vitriol and contributing to the anti-breastfeeding culture. Even if it is presented as a point and counter-point, the truth is that the negative position is going to get more play. If I am a mom and I’m nervous about breastfeeding in public, I am more likely to take the sign that calls it ‘tacky’ to heart, in the same way that one negative comment seems to carry more weight than fifteen positive comments.

    Surely, they can pick a top that generates discussion without undermining the health of mothers and babies. 🙁


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  • Minneapolis AP Examiner

    Being mean to nursing mothers is the tacky thing. Shame on them.

    Would it be okay to make fun of other healthy baby stuff?

    “Taking your baby to the doctor is tacky”?

    “Putting a hat on your baby when it’s cold is tacky”?

    “Changing your baby’s diaper is tacky”?


    They seem to think they’re cute or controversial or funny. It’s just not. It’s obnoxious.

    On the plus side, I saw this on Twitter and discovered your blog and that’s a good thing. 🙂


  • laura

    that is outrageous. i agree, the 2nd sign appears disingenuous.

    i don’t know if there is a way to change people’s minds. people with this frame of mind seem staunch in their belief that feeding a child in the natural way is pornographic. i think the more people do it, and educate the public about it, the better it will get…i hope. i hope.


  • TheFeministBreeder

    This is just unreal. We live in a state that not only protects a mother’s right to nurse in public as a matter of law, but also provides and enforcement provision allowing her to seek damages against any establishment that tried to deny her that right. There is no “discussion” to be had. Business cannot lawfully discriminate against nursing mothers any more than they can discriminate against people of a different skin color. If somebody put up a sign asking people of color to go sit in the back of the bus and then said “now, discuss” this would have made international headlines, and Chicago Now would be choking on a lawsuit right now.

    It’s high time people started recognizing breastfeeding as a civil right – like they do in Washington state now (and soon-to-be Michigan.)


  • Jill

    Both signs we up at the exact same time. One was not replaced by the other to be “disingenuous.” They presented 2 viewpoints to get people talking, and it looks like it worked.


    Danielle Reply:

    @ Jill

    I apologize if I was incorrect about when the signs were posted. I went by 3-4 times with my husband and we just noticed the first, if this was because I was so irritated and focused, I sincerely apologize for misrepresenting the situation.

    The problem I have with the ad still remains. First, the ad(s) work to perpetuate the idea that this should be a discussion. It shouldn’t be. Babies have a right to eat, whenever and wherever. Period.

    Second, if, like me, only the first sign is noticed, well it can do a lot to influence views and opinions on the matter, for nursing moms specifically. Like The Maven said, had she seen ads like this when she was a nursing mom, she may have stayed in the bathroom stall even longer. (How sad that she felt like she had to nurse there for a couple of months to begin with.)


  • caitlin

    Came across this discussion and wanted to jump in because I have an interesting vantage point.

    I blog for ChicagoNow. I write a blog called Wee Windy City about family-friendly activities in Chicago.

    I am a mother of three children (ages 5, 3, and 11 mos.). All of my children have been breastfed — I am currently nursing my 11 mo. old and plan to continue as long as he wants to/needs to. I feed him wherever I am — whether that be an airplane, a business meeting, the local park or cafe, wherever.

    I have seen ChicagoNow ads around town — but not this particular one. I’ve seen other ChicagoNow ads with idiotic comments about global warming. My take on this is that, at ChicagoNow, everyone is free to participate in the discussion — every one can put their viewpoint out there. This ad is obviously supposed to be provocative.

    Still, I get that this sign touches on a very sensitive topic for many people and I don’t personally like it. On the one hand, people are entitled to share their viewpoint — others can react and say that it is uninformed or wrong. But I also worry a bit that this sign does contribute to the idea that being anti-breastfeeding is an actual, legitimate position (as though being anti-food or anti-water would be an actual stance).

    So while I get the idea behind this ad (I think), I have to say that I agree that this is not the best way to get that message out there.


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  • Heather

    A bit late to the party but really now. That’s like telling an adult that eating in public is tacky, so they should go eat in the bathroom. Gross! I’m glad you spoke up about it.


  • Virginia

    It is Chicago Now’s ad that is tacky in a public space. A nursing mom is focused on feeding her child. This ad is focused on creating notoriety for Chicago Now. Not all opinions have equal merit. Those detached from facts and attached to harmful prejudices are worth little. The promoter of them is worth less.


  • Sue

    Caitlin, I get the idea behind the campaign too. The purpose is to garner interest and get people to visit the blogs. It’s a neat idea really. But this particular comment is discriminatory and went way too far.

    What if it discriminated against another group of people? Instead of breastfeeding women, let’s say one of these boards had a similarly written discriminatory comment about another group of people.

    Imagine this:
    “Black people are so tacky! Seriously, how hard is it to find a seat at the back of the bus, people?”

    or this:
    “It’s weird to see people wear turbans in public. Seriously, how hard is it to just take them off or stay home?”

    *Of course I’m making a point here that this type of comment is ridiculous and these are made up, not my actual opinions.*

    Even if a user submitted that comment, would Chicago Now choose to use that comment as an ad? I sure don’t think so!


  • Sue

    It also occurs to me that posting this ad encourages people to force nursing babies into bathrooms, when Illinois law actually protects a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. Anyone who prevents it may sue.

    Illinois Right to Breastfeed Act:


  • perches

    Totally late in seeing this, but had to comment. What a horrible, hateful, misogynistic ad! It’s hard enough in our society to BE a breastfeeding mama, let alone to bear with snide & insensitive comments. And a big yuck!/gross! for the suggestion of feeding a baby in a public restroom. The germs, the noise, the lack of seating, the germs… Someone should sic La Leche League and the Chicago Tourism Board on Chicago Now.