It may be some time yet until we see a mother in an advert precariously balancing her child/bag/shopping/pets before pushing a nipple into the mouth of a howling, jam-smeared toddler. But when they do, oh boy, are my days as a model really going to get going.
In recent weeks, a series of adverts have appeared from Tu at Sainsbury’s, Adidas and Aldi, all featuring breastfeeding mothers. Some are wearing flowery blouses and have tattoos, others are holding a naked baby between the zips of a sports top. Of course the women are good-looking, of course they are slim, of course we cannot actually see anything as erotically charged or as morally unsettling as an areola – this is still advertising, after all. But it is, surely, a start.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Stefani Nurding feeding her baby in an ad for Tu by Sainsbury’s. Photograph: Nodachi
As someone who breastfed her son for 21 shirt-lifting, bra-soaking, carefree months, I am of course pleased to see breastfeeding being held up as something both everyday and aspirational. It is as prosaic as a trip to the supermarket yet as physically impressive as professional sport. It belongs on billboards and screens as much as beds and sofas.
There is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to babies or bodies. But to normalise something that, in the words of Unicef, has a profoundly positive impact on child health, is of course to be celebrated. You might find yourself whipping out a boob on a train full of football fans; you might squirt milk across somebody else’s coat on the bus; you might find yourself answering the door with your full breast outside your clothes without noticing. And if the presence of big brands behind your bra straps encourage you to keep feeding, then all power to your elbow. It is a shame that this hasn’t happened sooner, but it’s better late than never – and there’s no use crying over spilled (breast) milk.