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