Things I won’t sell
It’s tough sometimes to make decisions to NOT sell something that has been requested. But, I honestly feel that I have a responsibility as a business owner to make decisions that are not only smart for the business but that are in keeping with my personal values and beliefs.
I’ve received numerous requests over the years – and three in the last two weeks – to add a nursing cover to my inventory. (And one additional question about nursing cover patterns.) It must be the theme of the month!
And I’m sure I could sell and profit from fun and stylish nursing covers. But I don’t want to, and here’s why.
I do not want to sell products that make it any harder to breastfeed in our society. It goes against everything I believe as a parent. “But Wait!” you’re saying. “Don’t nursing covers make it easier for some moms to breastfeed?” Not so fast! There are some moms who are very uncomfortable nursing in public and who will only do so with the aid of a cover of some kind. I am not here to judge those women, at all. They are breastfeeding and that’s great. (And there are a lot of people selling breastfeeding covers to accommodate them.)
But here is the problem: our society is very anti-breastfeeding in public. Most ads for breastfeeding covers include the words “nobody has to know you’re even nursing!” But that attitude only supports the anti-breastfeeding mentality. I strongly believe that the more “normal” we nursing women can help breastfeeding seem, the more accepting society will be. But the more we act like breastfeeding is shameful, something that needs to be hidden under blankets and in dark corners, the less accepting society will be.
Beyond the philosophical, breastfeeding covers present two very practical problems. First, covering with a shawl, blanket, or special cover practically screams “hey, everyone! I’m nursing a baby under here!!!” And it makes people embarassed. In discussions with family and friends, I’ve discovered that most of us have the same reaction to seeing a nursing mom who is all hunkered down under a blanket – embarassment or shame. It’s almost as if we are reacting to the idea that nursing is shameful, as represented by the giant cover-up.
But seeing a nursing mom who is being discreet by covering up with her shirt, who is confidently going about her business with little thought to what the rest of us think doesn’t generally elicit the same reaction. Most of my family, at any rate, has reported that they feel kind of warm and happy, the way people usually get when they see a happy baby. The focus is on the baby (“awwww, wook at the wittle baby!”) and not on the “embarassing” act going on. Some family members have reported that once they realize a baby is nursing, they are sometimes surprised and feel a little awkward, but that they get over it quickly.
Studies of performers have shown that audiences react to the emotions emitted by the performers. (And I tell this to my swing dance performance troupe all the time!) If a performer acts confident, excited, and happy, the audience is excited and happy. If a performer acts embarassed or like they feel stupid, the audience reacts in kind. Nursing in public is no different!
The second practical problem is that of having too many things to fanagle while nursing. For a while after Wally was born, I could nurse him only at home or in a dressing room or the car. Because I had to practically get naked to get it right. (In fact, I did just take off my shirt at home, lol.) After a few weeks, we got better, and I could nurse him while remaining fully clothed, having to mess with only his face, my shirt, and my breast. Adding a blanket or special nursing cover would have been just one more thing to hassle with, and one more reason to give up.
So I hope you can understand why I will never add nursing cover-ups to my product line-up. I just can’t sell anything that I believe is detrimental to my way of life.
I should note that I will sew just about anything a customer requests as custom sewing.