ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – An Ontario woman behind the viral photograph of herself breastfeeding her child while sitting on Santa’s lap says she’s disappointed with the public reception she’s received.
Rebecca Dunbar says she had the picture taken mostly as a joke, but decided to post it in a bid to increase acceptance of the practice of nursing in public.
Dunbar says the reaction she’s received since she posted the picture to her Facebook page suggests that acceptance won’t come quickly.
She says about 75 per cent of the feedback she’s seen has been negative, with many posters complaining the picture is “trashy.”
Dunbar says the shot is less revealing than many pictures of scantily clad woman and laments the fact that public breastfeeding is frowned upon.
She says she resents the fact that women can be made to feel shame for pursuing an activity meant to promote the health of their children.
“I just want it to be so normal that it doesn’t even need a discussion,” the 40-year-old mother of three said in a telephone interview.
“If people want to say, ‘oh, you look happy in that picture…’ that’s about as far as it needs to go.”
The snapshot came about spontaneously as Dunbar was standing at a local mall taking her kids to see Santa, she said.
One of her one-year-old twins became fussy as the family stood in line, so Dunbar began nursing him right then and there.
Dunbar then came up with the joking notion of capturing the moment while sitting on Santa’s lap to raise awareness. A friend accompanying Dunbar and her kids also found the idea amusing and urged her to go through with it.
Dunbar found that other people were game, too.
“I asked the photographer if he’d be OK taking the picture and he said, ‘yeah, for sure, if it was OK with Santa,” she said. “And Santa said ‘it’s been 40 years and never had a question like that, but why not.'”
Dunbar accordingly posed while nursing her second twin, then posted the photo to social media with the caption “All I want for Christmas is a healthy, happy baby.”
She said her friends have responded enthusiastically on social media and media outlets have begun picking up the image, but said she’ll likely have to modify her Facebook settings to deal with negative blowback.
Dunbar said she has no regrets about taking the picture, however, adding she still wants to offer support to friends who have been asked to nurse their children in bathrooms or remote corners.
“It is quite disappointing that people are so negative about it when it’s not meant to be that way,” she said. “Partly, it was just to be funny.”