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By Jessica T

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About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag...  (More)

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Further developments on the booby burqa - Part III

Uploaded: Nov 14, 2013
My husband I were spending the afternoon at the pool a few months ago with the twins when a beautiful flock of young, fashionable new mothers installed themselves nearby with their babies. They had that new-mom glow, enviable camaraderie, and did I mention they were fashionable? In short, they were captivating to watch from a distance.

When I returned from some lap swimming, I noticed that several of them were wearing...You guessed it! The booby burqa! "What did I miss?" I asked my husband.

"You're looking at it," my husband replied. "You have to go talk to them…"

This was a group made up exclusively of women who seemed immensely comfortable with each other and their shared moment in life raising babies. They were hanging out in a casual, family-friendly environment, yet covering themselves while breastfeeding. I hemmed and hawed about approaching them - I certainly didn't want to come off as judgemental, and I also didn't want to make them uncomfortable.

But I knew that I had to get the scoop for my blog. I introduced myself as a new mother of twins and gently asked them about why they were wearing breastfeeding covers. They were gracious and forthcoming in their responses.

One woman, a brunette, volunteered that she sported it to placate her own modesty and because she was conscious of making others uncomfortable. All of the women insisted that even when they wore breastfeeding covers, they felt like they got unwelcome attention. The brunette recounted that an older woman recently stared at her in the park while she was breastfeeding with her Hooter Hider. (I wondered silently, perhaps she was staring because she found it strange that a young woman felt compelled to feed her baby under cover?)

At this point, they turned the tables on me. Did I wear one?

I did not. I wasn't accustomed to wearing one since I don't recall anyone having them when my 10-year old was a baby. But, I recounted the episode with my team and told them I understood the urge in certain circumstances.

Another woman, this one blond, admitted to the group (perhaps for the first time) that she wished she had the courage not to wear one. She wasn't modest, but she wanted to be appropriate in public and among her friends.

"What do you consider public?" I pressed. "When you are together at someone's home - do you wear your Hooter Hiders?"

If it was just them, they didn't. But anywhere else, they did, including their own homes if others' husbands were present.

They told me a final anecdote about a recent dinner party they attended. One of their friends was pregnant, and her husband asked the women breastfeeding why they were wearing breastfeeding covers. (Good for him! That's a modern day feminist.)

My interview left me wondering…

Is the trend in Booby Burqas just about convention? Should we be worried that young women are conforming without thoughtfully questioning why? What do you think?

Comments

Posted by Brian, a resident of another community,
on Nov 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Is a small aspect of it consumerism and capitalism? Some smart manufacturers created/amplified a need that satisfied the very real modesty that exists in our culture and perhaps slightly created some modesty where prior it didn't exist? Sort of "Hey look at this. I could use one of these." Make em all cute and sell them to the same folks who like lululemon?


Posted by Jessica T, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Nov 15, 2013 at 8:51 am

Jessica T is a registered user.

Hi Brian, No doubt -- I fear this item is now considered a "must have" for the baby registry...It does seem like baby gear offerings have ballooned in recent years. But - I distinctly remember the baby wipe warmer (not a necessity if you ask me) on the market 10 years ago. What happened in the past 10 years that presented the Hooter Hider with a market?


Posted by Nick, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

But Brian -- Lululemon's version would be see-through.


Posted by another mother, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Nov 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Is this what journalism has degraded to ? Shifting our focus from what deserves attention to what does not ?

Why is PA Online publishing such rubbish ? And why am I even reading this ?


Posted by Jessica T, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Nov 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Hi another mother - I'm not a journalist, rather a mommy blogger. Feel free to check out some of my other posts about parenting if the debate about the booby burqa isn't up your alley.


Posted by MV Mom, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Nov 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Women have been covering up for as long as blankets have been around, and there are more reasons than modesty. I loved using my Hooter Hider with my first. When we were in public, he would get distracted by all the people and noises and sights and using the Hooter Hider was great because it let him focus on the task at hand. It works better than a blanket because it has the neck strap, so I never had to worry about it falling out of place or covering his airflow too much. Once he got a little older and more efficient at nursing, we stopped using the cover in public.

P.S. You say you aren\'t judgmental, but you kind of are.


Posted by Jessica T, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Nov 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Hi MV Mom - my babes are at that age where they are very curious about the world around them, which makes nursing in public a little tricky. I understand your point. I've also heard another good use for having breastfeeding covers is being able to pump in the car during the commute to and from work - who knows, I may need to purchase one for that purpose myself!


Posted by another mother, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Nov 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Living in/around Palo Alto can result in losing perspective on issues. Meaning a mommy blogger in E.Palo Alto or Oakland would be blogging about something else.

Hopefully, you will grow out of this "boorqa" phase soon, I wish you well.

And I do wish PA Online would use more discretion when they publish something.


Posted by Dan C. , a resident of another community,
on Nov 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm

As a father here in Oakland, I can tell you that the booby burqas do make appearances -- but I'd say more often than not, moms (including my wife) are perfectly comfortable feeding in public without them.


Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 15, 2013 at 10:20 pm

With no deliberate effort on my part, I have run into nursing mothers on four continents and I must say that this really sounds like a first-world, privileged white person "controversy" that is highly tied to genteel upper-middle class America.

Concerning Jessica T's efforts to discreetly nurse in public, I wholeheartedly support her, since that's basically what the MAJORITY OF THE REST OF THE WORLD DOES.

Jessica T is a blogger, not an MV Voice staff writer.

To people complaining about journalism, etc., *TRUE* journalism died in the mid-Nineties. Basically when the NY Times focused more on Hillary Clinton's hairstyle than her politics, it was *OVER*.

If you want to gripe about mass media writing quality in 2013, you are two decades too late. That sort of stuff died with William F. Buckley, Jr., George Plimpton, Herb Caen, and others of that generation.

Even George F. Will hasn't written a decent paragraph (other than about baseball) for twenty years.

Sorry about that.


Posted by Change the channel, a resident of Monroe Park,
on Nov 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I agree with another mother. Enough is enough. This topic is exhausted. And being a "mommy" blogger? Please Jessica you are a google manager. Talk about something besides breastfeeding I beg you. There are homeless mothers with children in Palo Alto. There are working mothers who are desperate for solutions at work and home . There are stay home mothers who have an epidemic of depression. There a single mothers and their problems are not how to nurse without showing nipple. I really tried to support this and I do support nursing but please stop. If you want to write about sexism please there is so much more territory to cover . Sexual harassment in the workplace, sexual assault on college campuses , sex trafficking. Porn on the Internet. Philippine typhoon aid. Please please I beg you move on. And please don't say just not to read your blog. That is not a serious answer. What are you writing a blog intended only to be read by those who never tire of hearing about nursing covers ? The " I never bore of the nursing cover story" demographic which is by the way turning creepy with the transparent thing. Please merciful Jesus find another obsession.


Posted by SEan, a resident of Sylvan Park,
on Nov 16, 2013 at 12:41 pm

@Change the channel

You left me speechless, thank you!


Posted by Stick a fork in it, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Nov 16, 2013 at 11:41 pm

This blog has become a train wreck. Much as I hate to give it more page views, I can't help but take a look, probably because there are some worthwhile and insightful comments.

This isn't the worst-written feature being promoted by the news syndicate, but it is the most insipid in-your-face one. It fails on so many levels, and it's starting to feel like booby porn, thus inducing nausea in readers who might otherwise be sympathetic to the writer's objectives.

Enough with the judgmental trivia. The writer should get over herself and address something that really matters or get off this website. Too many electrons have perished in vain.


Posted by Jessica T, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Nov 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Dear Readers,

You tell me you have tired of breastfeeding as a topic. Alas - it is a passion of mine, but I hear you, and I will give this topic a rest (for a few weeks). Though I am a manager at Google, Inc., these are my personal views (not those of my employer) - please see the note in my blog description.

I really like the suggestions on human rights pieces, but I am blogging about a variety of topics as they relate to my interests and experiences as a working mom. There are unfortunately a lot of topics I won't be able to address due to my own limitations as a writer and for the purposes of privacy - for that I do apologize. But I encourage you to stay with me - this blog will be a journey for all of us.


Posted by change the channel, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Nov 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Nursing is important but I think you have exhausted the potential of the hooter hider.

Please re-read my post more carefully. I suggested the following: "There are homeless mothers with children in Palo Alto. There are working mothers who are desperate for solutions at work and home . There are stay home mothers who have an epidemic of depression. There a single mothers and their problems are not how to nurse without showing nipple. I really tried to support this and I do support nursing but please stop. If you want to write about sexism please there is so much more territory to cover . Sexual harassment in the workplace, sexual assault on college campuses , sex trafficking. Porn on the Internet. Philippine typhoon aid."

The only one of these that is international is the typhoon and that was thrown in for humor. However, you could certainly write a nice post about how to talk to your 10 year old about suffering in the world and the loss of life and how you can donate to unicef to help others. it's the holidays so that's not ridiculous. So there is no list of international human rights topics. Just one, about charitable giving.

Really, the list is supposed to be consonant with your interests: sexism, motherhood, working moms, etc. You said you are a mommy blogger. I think that is a ridiculous way to describe yourself since you are a tech manager at the number 1 US corporation. But since you want to be a "mommy" blogger -- ok, write about something about being a mommy in some way other than about using or not using a nursing cover. Write about the homeless families of palo alto and how it is hard to remember what it must be like for them in the midst of all this money. Write about single moms. Write about single mothers. Write about anything about being a mother other than the hooter hider.

You are also interested in feminism which is your professed basis for regaling us with the hooter hider story 3 times. How about anything else about sexism? There's more to it, believe me, and I don't think the hooter hider is necessarily the correct lens through which to view sexism in modern America, at least not three times.

I think the message from the stands is that we want to support you but please find another topic.


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Nov 17, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Have been reading most of these posts with amusement.

The American idea to hide breastfeeding mothers from view has always amused non-American breastfeeding mothers. Even the phrase "nursing" is peculiar to North America as in the rest of the world nursing tends to be what happens by nurses in hospital or by someone looking after the sick. A nursing mother in most other countries just means a mother who has a young infant regardless of whether the said infant is breast fed or bottle fed.

Anyway, my real purpose for commenting is rally that this is just a marketing ploy by some individual who sat at a sewing machine one day and invented a piece of fabric for the purpose. Back in my day (doesn't feel that long ago) most mothers wishing to be discreet as they breastfed just quietly moved into a corner to do it and if necessary used a baby blanket draped around the baby's face and mother's exposed flesh - if indeed there is any exposed flesh. The fact that a purpose designed piece of fabric is now on anybody's must have list is rather OTT.


Posted by Mother of 3, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Nov 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Personally, I find it offensive that someone is busy body enough to think its appropriate to have any thought or opinion, and certainly to express to others that they have an opinion, about what other mothers do or do not do with breast feeding their children. What they wear or do not wear? Come On. Really? Its absolutely none of your business whether, how, when, or why a person is (or is not) breastfeeding. I find it amazing that you'd have the nerve to write a post expressing that you are so judgmental that you sit around not only musing over this type of thing, but have the nerve to go question a group of women on the topic. Again, just falls in the category of just SO none of your business. I can tell you if you or your husband ever approached me to ask me questions I'd probably slap you across the face, or read you the riot act so emphatically that you'd come away with a rash as IF I has slapped you across the face. Because its as insulting as if as if you had grabbed my boob.


Posted by change the channel, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Nov 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Hmm, I think I might delete that one. It's violent.

Try decaf, Mom of 3.


Posted by So old fashioned, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Not only is this subject covered superficially, but that the author uses terms like boobies and hooters rather than breasts indicates her disrespect for women's bodies and her buy-in to the cheap male popular culture. Breasts as playthings, not a serious part of our bodies.
Not surprising that so many men have posted here.
Also, she identifies a woman by her hair color, as a "brunette."
I think it's time to learn to identify with your own gender and not look at women through the male gaze.


Posted by Jessica T, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Nov 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Gentle readers,

I don't condone violence of any kind nor the degradation of women's bodies. To be fair, I use the word "hooter" for womens' breasts only because Hooter Hider is a common term for a breastfeeding cover. And I agree, it's a pretty tasteless moniker. I did coin the term "booby burqa" (as far as I know), and it's meant to be tongue and cheek.

I couldn't be more delighted to have male readers as well as women readers. I think their comments add a unique perspective and some appreciable levity to the discussion. My take? There is plenty of room for all of us under the big tent of feminism.


Posted by JJ Wednesday, a resident of Ventura,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 1:42 am

Score one for team Anti-Burqa: Web Link


Posted by Jessica T, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

JJ Wednesday - I think the photo of Gisele grants me leave to post just one more time about the Booby Burqa, don't you?


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