There was a recent post on social media that got me thinking about how important context is. How we can so easily jump to the wrong conclusions because of our own perceptions.
The post in question was a photo of a woman breast feeding her baby in a restaurant. No biggie, right?
Well, not so fast.
From the expression on the mother’s face, one could assume she was not happy, and yes, perhaps downright angry. Besides that, instead of her shirt being lifted up, as many nursing mom’s often do, she’d pulled hers down to fully expose the breast.
Now, the person who posted the photo, apparently did not know this woman, but was asking people how they felt about a breast being so exposed in a restaurant.
My knee-jerk reaction was a shrug, it’s a boob, get over it.
And then I read through the comments and discovered that many people were not only highly offended by the sight, but had formed opinions about the mother’s intentions.
One person even determined that judging by the look on the mom’s face, she was just daring someone to make a comment about her bare breast, as though prepared to go to battle over her rights. Could this be true? le sigh, I suppose. But that’s an awful lot to assume from a grumpy face.
Hmmm. Time for me to walk away and not engage. So I closed my laptop and went about my business.
But it niggled at me until my obsession with #KINDNESS kicked in and I started to actually think about the person, the real, living, breathing, human being in the photo, and it occurred to me that her facial expression and what some considered her angry body language could have been due to almost anything.
The photo was in fact a millisecond in time.
We have no idea what happened just before or after the shutter clicked.
Consider some of these questions which show how context might color the scene and change assumptions.
Who was taking the picture? A family member? A stranger? And why was the photo taken and posted on social media?
Okay, back to the mom in question. If she was angry, why? Was it perhaps because someone had the audacity to snap a picture while she was breast feeding? (For those who suggest that she was in public so “asking for it,” would you be okay with someone coming up to you in a restaurant and taking your picture, then posting it on social media for people to pass judgement on you?)
Or maybe she’d had to stop eating her own meal so she could feed the fussy baby, and it just happened to be the first time in weeks that she’d gotten out of the house and was sitting down to a meal she hadn’t had to prepare for herself. (Yep, that’s motherhood, but still…)
Maybe some of the other patrons or even staff had been vocal about her fussy baby.
Perhaps she’d been more discrete originally and someone had made a remark so she thought, oh yeah? well lets see how you like me now, and exposed her breast completely? (I confess, this idea made me smile.)
Maybe her facial expression was a reaction to an unkind remark about her baby’s appearance.
Maybe her husband was being unkind AND then took the photo to rile her up some more. Maybe he’d criticized her low cut top, or…
Maybe it was her mother, someone who grew up in the era of bottle babies criticizing her, so she flung that boob out there in protest and her hubby laughed at her and took the photo.
Maybe she’d wrestled three other children into good clothes to go to a restaurant for a social event she was too exhausted to care about, and then, she lost it when the baby started to cry and someone suggested she take him to the bathroom for a feeding.
Maybe she was just a bitch looking for a fight, but I highly doubt that. Who needs that kind of trouble when they’ve got a baby to care for–an infant depending on them for food, shelter, comfort and cleanliness, 24/7.
We’ll never know what happened before or after that picture was taken, or why for heaven’s sake it was taken, posted, and discussed by total strangers on social media.
But what I do know is this.
Food was being provided to a hungry infant in what looked like a loving manner in a safe and clean environment. Period.
Does anything else really matter?
Can’t we all, at the end of the day look upon something like this with kindness?
Couldn’t we just look past the darned boob and connect with the humanity?
End of rant.
And on a personal note about bare breasts.
Sometimes, in the heat of summer, when I’m sweltering under my shirt, I look at men happily walking around topless, with their old, young, bouncy, floppy, firm or whatever kind of breasts (that are often bigger than mine) exposed, and I wonder why the heck I can’t have that same level of comfort and feel the breeze on my poor old boobs too! 😀 …And no, I’m not an exhibitionist, I’m just jealous.
Have a great week everyone!
Katt…. who dares to talk about the uncomfortable…in the interest of kindness.