Boobies, boobies boobs. The ever sexualized, multi-functioning, nutrient providing appendage that could not be selectively appreciated. On one hand, there’s push up bras designed to give you maximum lift, perching those tatas like a trophy sitting on the top of some prestigious shelf. Fetishized images of busty pin up girls, milk maid Halloween costumes and naughty librarians come to mind.
On the shorter, receiving end of the stick you have the Breastfeeding Mother. The woman who carries a portable ‘tent’ to shelter herself from the judgement of gawkers. The woman who’s designated to the more ‘appropriate’ place to nurse her hungry baby in communal spaces, the closed off, stifling change room at the end of the long hall. The mother who pre-bottles her milk (or formula, no judgement here) so she can breath easy and avoid the spectacle altogether.
This installation titled Breast Fest by Robyn Hedges really hit home. I was really happy to see a woman address this issue in such a carefully executed, satirical fashion. I’ve been there. I’ve experienced that moment your breasts go from a state of constantly being sexualized (I stopped wearing tight shirts in high school for this exact reason) to ‘grossing’ men out. The stares, the stares would creep me out. You can easily feel the burning gaze of someone sticking there nose where it surly doesn’t belong, when all your trying to do if effing feed your child.
The concept of a ‘Breast Festival’ sounds so absurd its almost laughable, which I feel is the point. WHY? WHY is it absurd? Would it not make sense to have one day a year, that symbolically commemorated motherhood? Yaaas I know there’s already a ‘Mother’s Day‘ but it seems to be addressing something different in comparison. Mother’s Day, as we all know is a day to celebrate Moms. A day you call your mom, treat her to something nice, an express how much you appreciate her. Great. But what does this do for Mom’s rights?
I thought this exhibit was just wonderful. The ‘No breastfeeding’ sign at this ‘family event’, the little girl holding an ice cream that looks like a boob, the candy-treat boob pops, and possibly most effective the neutral grey color scheme. Personally I feel the use of grey makes it all the more satirical.
To play the devil’s advocate
because I love to, I somehow feel that a fam friendly Festival of the Breasts might change the stigma associated with breasts and in particular nipples, for the better. If from a young age we were exposed to more situations that challenged to de-sexualize and really normalize the sight of nipples, would it not combat some of this relentless sexualization? Maybe nursing moms would receive a warm smile instead of an uncomfortable stare. A high five for their efforts instead of a pointed finger directing you to the nearest enclosed ‘designated’ area.
Before my departure I stood there wondering ‘What flavour do you suppose these treats are…milk…perhaps?’… Never did find out.
All in all, great visuals (thanks Robyn from one mom to another). Left me with lots to think about.
For more images, or info on Robyn Hedges, click here.