Rihanna and Breastfeeding Memes: Why You’re A Shamed Shamer And It’s Not Okay


rihanna breast feeding meme

rihanna breastfeeding instagram

Both are okay actually so…

The entire world is completely messed up from Rihanna, y’all. The 26-year-old singer stepped out in her bangin’ bod at the CFDA Fashion Awards, whatever TF that is, for the appropriately categorized 2014 Fashion Icon Award. Welp, she earned it. If you do not call under a rock your permanent and/or temporary address then you have seen the infamous dress: a sheer gown with a purported 230,000 Swarovski crystals and little to nothing else. People were l o u d about this dress such as the usual can’t-deal-with-hos men and even women, who were really offended by Rihanna’s bare-all some-things-but-not-really attitude.

One group of women especially did not like how Rihanna dared to show her breasts when they cannot show theirs. Breastfeeding advocates have been pretty meme-happy since this incident à la #moi and it’s the classic case of Shamed Shamers, where a group of oppressed women shame another because one group (Rihanna) is not shamed enough therefore one group (breastfeeder) feels falsely shamed. Making memes like the ones included above only feed the cycle of why you need to make such images in the first place. These type of “breastfeeding” memes are repeating the puritanical system that tell breastfeeding mothers when, how, what to breastfeed just like how non-lactating women’s bodies are told when, how, or what to dress their body.

It is important to understand that Rihanna received much more criticism than ‘fashion icon’ praise unlike like these memes suggest. Actually, I have yet to read a comment really “okay” with Rihanna’s dress at all. With a simple Google news search, you’ll see the headline word choices contain ‘naked,’ ‘bares all,’ or ‘too much skin.’ By asking “why [are Rihanna's boobs] okay,” it is promoting the very body policing that breastfeeding is too aware of and contradictory of the cause for normalizing breastfeeding. All boobs, all okay.

We should not be shaming Rihanna, who also got banned from Instagram like so many breastfeeding IG moms for the same exact thing: boobs, lactating or otherwise. We should shame the internalized patriarchal thought that makes us think we need to shame her to get our point across. We should shame the images that say she can’t be a fashion icon and be a woman with breasts. We should shame those who invite you to sit in the bathroom to feed your hungry kid. We should shame the predators, who sexualize women’s breasts to latched- or non-latched children. We should shame the people who shame Rihanna because they are most likely the same people against breastfeeding. When you shame Rihanna’s body next to yours, you shame the advocacy you misappropriate through images and thoughts like those.

*For some real-time insight into the world of Twitter’s thoughts on shaming breastfeeding and/or Rihanna, check it out here.

rihanna vs breastfeeding in public shaming

'LEAVE RIHANNA ALONEEE'

‘LEAVE RIHANNA ALONEEE’

Are these memes promoting or hurting the cause for normalizing breastfeeding? What about the cause for body positivity?

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16 thoughts on “Rihanna and Breastfeeding Memes: Why You’re A Shamed Shamer And It’s Not Okay

  1. Those memes are harmful to breastfeeding and women. We should not shame others to make our own personal causes seem worthy.

  2. I saw a stat once about how most cultures don’t even treat breasts as sexual body parts, that is mostly an American or Western thing – wish I bookmarked it but it escapes me now. You make a good point I wouldn’t have initially thought of. Thanks for speaking up!

    • Only a year ago or two, I wouldn’t have thought of this side of things. It wasn’t until being a mom and role model for a boy and a girl made me rethink how I view sexuality and self-acceptance. Exactly similar owner of anatomies are shaming others with the same anatomy. Made me think.

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  3. Thank you SO much for posting this article, I saw so many people posting that silly meme on
    Facebook the other day and it made me drop my jaw because so many people are putting a woman’s body to shame just because of the dress she wore and how ‘revealing’ it was. I tried as hard as I could to not get into an argument with several people on the subject, and of course the words ‘skank’ and ‘slut’ flew from everyone else’s fingertips (not mine, of course, I know better than to shame someone with a stupid word like that). I wish the world had more sexual acceptance of other people’e bodies… if they don’t like it, perhaps they shouldn’t look and gawk so much? I also got told that “her dress is not appropriate for children to see”… I’m not going to lie, I wanted to gag them. I had seen my fair share of naked women’s bodies when I was a child, and I didn’t see anything wrong with it, nor did I grow up to be a ‘weirdo’ over it. So I’m really not sure what the problem is, here.

    • I just was exchanging with someone on Instagram and she said that Scout Willis, the faux celebrity campaigning for the hash tag #FreeTheNipple is a better show of feminism than Rihanna. I don’t know if that person knew that she was as hypocritical as she sounded. There is a double standards there, yes, and women are being awful showing where theirs whenit comes to other women’s bodies.

  4. Its not the body we shame. at least not I. I shame the ideology against breastfeeding in public and showing a little skin ande being told to cover up. yet rihannas attire seems appropriate according to some.

    • The meme is problematic for me because Rihanna and breastfeeding in public both get flack, ridicule, and shaming. It’s so important to realize that the people who ‘object’ to nursing in public are the same exact people who shame Rihanna. The conversation surrounding her dress was not of praise for her boldness like this unfair comparison suggests.

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Glad that breastfeeding is a part of social discussion like this.

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  5. *slow clap*

    Amen!

    Aside: Glad I stumbled upon your blog. As an American-born Cambodian whose blessed to be (accidentally) attachment parenting a half-black toddler, I totally feel like I could have written everything I’ve read tonight.

  6. Interesting article. I disagree that the memes are shaming Rihanna, though; I feel like they were intended to say “SINCE this is ok, this should be ok, too.” I do agree that breast baring should never be considered public nudity, as men’s breast tissue has long since been excluded from that term. Making it so only serves to further promote the idea that there is some indecency to breasts, that they may be a sexual body part and are, therefore, inappropriate to show. Lactating or not, breasts are not sexual. The matter of covering or not covering should be of personal opinions on modesty, just as some choose not to personally wear bikinis but those that choose to wear them are also deemed acceptable for public.

    • This meme is implying that Rihanna only received praise, which she surely did not. So, in all accuracy, Rihanna’s dress was “not okay” at all. I note in my post that the media undermines her with choice words like ‘nearly naked!’ or ‘bares all.’ From my own research on social media, other mothers, even bfing ones, call her awful names just because she wore a dress that shows the same anatomy as ours?

      This unfair comparison also removes one woman’s body experience in society to make the breastfeeding cause more important than the other. It may not be the exact same situation but breastfeeding shame exists because people love shaming *our* bodies. Women’s bodies go through so much pressure from the onlooker only when it benefits them: they want to see ‘em but when they do, she’s a ho; if they only see them in private, she’s a keeper.

      Also, I disagree that breasts are not sexual; hands, mouths, and breasts are definitely “sexual” in the most pragmatic and creative way but someone out there along the way made breasts indecently so. ;)

      Thanks for your comment, Danielle. It’s nice we can respectfully disagree on some points but agree that breastfeeding dialogue needs to happen either way.

  7. Wow!! Thank you for opening my mind to a bigger picture and viewpoint! As an IBCLC,RLC- I have been all about these memes. But your post shifts this for me. Not just free the nipple – take back our bodies.

    • That’s really all I wanted to do w/ sharing my thoughts on this. I didn’t want breastfeeding moms to feel attacked for agreeing with the image but to realize that as women, we need to see it’s not my boobs vs her boobs. It’s more at women vs toxic and harmful conversations like the image suggests because the same conversation surrounding Rihanna’s choice outfit is the exact same dialogue I hear for anti-public breastfeeding rants.

      I appreciate your comment, Peggy. I’m glad you see where I tried to come from with this post.

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  8. And I wonder how much of the slut-shaming thrown at Rihanna by both the breastfeeding and non communities had a bit of misogynoire included in that. The memes I saw juxtaposed Rihanna, a Black woman, against the Madonna-like poses of breastfeeding non-Black, if not White, mothers. The message I got was a spiteful, racist-sexist one of “How is it this Black Jezebel gets praise for going out in THIS [and you pointed out that Rihanna had hella detractors for her outfit that had nothing to do with breastfeeding], but my picture-of-perfect-motherhood, non-Black self gets censured for breastfeeding my non-Black child. How does this n*gger slut rank higher/better than ME?!”

    • Breastfeeding in the Black community gets so much negativity such as Black Breastfeeding Week in same month as Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August and there were mothers who kept touting, “Why don’t we have White Breastfeeding Week then?” and unfortunately for their feeble little minds, they didn’t realize they could have celebrated all month long because they ALREADY HAD ONE.

      I really liked your perspective and never thought of it that way but White breastfeeding does detract a lot from other breasteeding moms with memes like this.

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