Beyond the Nip Slip

During a Euro trip in the late nineties, I witnessed my first boobage extravaganza. Let me explain. I grew up in Hong Kong amidst a society (and family) that kept us very sheltered. We were never introduced to many “modern” ideas. Okay rephrase. Besides alcohol, (I’m Sindhi, hello!) we were exposed to nothing. No drugs, no porn, no nudity at all. So off we go to Europe and all of a sudden, the world is now one sexy oyster. Amidst the numerous times we “wowed”, we found ourselves completely flabbergasted one afternoon.

There we were sitting at a beautiful café in the center of Vienna, Austria. On the next table was a local woman with a baby. We ate, they ate and all of a sudden, the baby cried. And then, what happened shocked the daylights out of us. The mother pulled unbuttoned her shirt, pulled out her breast and right there in the middle of central Vienna, she breast fed her baby. Besides our table, no one else cared at all. They went about their business while we all looked in shock. This was 1999.

Once we were over our initial shock, a rather odd discussion started. My grandmother was simply disgusted. My mother believed that it was the culture and that Europeans were far more progressive. But it was a local Uncle of mine, who looked at all of us and said, “What’s so wrong? It’s nature.” This caused a heated debate and while at 16, I had an opinion, we were taught to shut up when adults were talking. And so, I sat, listened and debated the topic in my head.

Here were are over a decade later, and Americans are debating how inappropriate they believe it is. In recent times, celebrities including Beyonce, who have been spotted openly breastfeeding their babies in public. Naturally, the American media has gone gung-ho over the whole ordeal. But if America is as progressive as they claim to be, why is this, such an issue? And really with the amount of cleavage American girls tend to show, this is slightly hypocritical, no?

My take on it is a bit conservative. I think motherhood is beautiful and breastfeeding is one such aspect of motherhood which forever connects the child to its mother. So really, why the hoopla over a public display of breastfeeding, right? Right...and wrong. The connection funda is beautiful in theory, but it is also should be a private one. Really whipping out your boob in public is hardly ladylike also. Maybe this has something to do with my culture and its rather deep influence on my values. I don’t think any Indian woman would ever nurse in public. We’ll cover up with a dupatta, a towel, a shawl but no way will you catch us unhooking our sari blouses in the middle of a shaadi. No jee. We’re more than happy to wear clothes with plunging necklines but that’s all you’ll get to see. And I don’t care how modern we are; we’re just not those kinda girls I guess.

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