Breastfeeding in the Bay.

A news story from Texas, USA has recently sparked controversy as a woman attempted to breastfeed her child outside a Hollister store in Houston Mall. With subsequent campaigns from mothers and pages and pages of it all over the internet, there’s no shortage of opinions about who was in the right, and who was in the wrong. For those of you who have somehow managed to avoid the story, here’s the basics: a Texas woman stopped outside the door to a Hollister store, deciding to breastfeed her baby. One of the managers of the store came out and asked her to move, stating that her behaviour wasn’t allowed on Hollister property and that her stroller was blocking the entrance to the store.

Hearing of the incident, breastfeeding campaign groups (which apparently do exist) launched an international campaign against Hollister, taking their babies into the store to breastfeed and display signs with slogans such as “Hey Hollister! My baby has a right to eat!!

One of the signs used inside a store in Concord Mall, Delaware.

One of the signs used inside a store in Concord Mall, Delaware.

I’m not entirely sure how the law stands on this thing in the UK. I know I’m a British law student so I probably should, but I don’t. I do know that 45 state in the US allow mothers to breastfeed their children anywhere they like – which would include Hollister stores.

My personal opinion, which I’m sure you all value hugely, is that the manager of the store should not have asked the woman to move. Legally, she is allowed to crack them out and feed her kids anywhere she wants to, and as it was outside the store itself, he should have left her alone. It was fair enough of him to say she had to move her stroller, though.

It might have been nice for the woman to consider breastfeeding her child out of the way of a store – I wouldn’t stop and eat my lunch in the entrance to a store, but whatever. It’s her freedom.

However, the reaction of campaign groups has been ridiculous. By all means campaign outside a store, but to take large signs, babies and strollers into an already busy store with the sole purpose of breastfeeding? That’s out of proportion. Hollister, as private property, does have every right to ask you to leave if they feel you’re doing something on their property that they don’t want done. Whilst this should, in my opinion, be exercised lightly when it comes to premises outside the door, I fully support them removing any woman carrying a large sign and breastfeeding when they have no intention of buying anything.

People overreact. If the woman at the start had moved a few feet over and stood outside another store, things would probably be fine. In the same way, if the original manager had been more understanding, things would work out too.

I doubt these woman campaigning in stores would want Hollister employees to go and eat their lunch in their kitchens. They should respect the fact that Hollister doesn’t want their babies having lunch in their stores.

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