Brelfie – Am I missing something?

I’ve been resisting the urge to write about the #brelfie hype.  I just find the whole thing unneccsary and creating attention for people who strictly claim, “We’re not attention seekers!”  Ok, but half the nation is submitting to this hashtag demand so if that’s not what you want, then what’s the actual point? 

First of all, I’d like to say I’m completely pro-breastfeeding.  It absolutely is better than formula.  I’m pro public feeding but don’t see why it can’t be discreet or probably more accurately, don’t see why you’d want to be anything other than discreet?  We’re don’t parade our toddlers centre stage to eat in a restuarant saying, “Look! I’m normal, he’s normal!  We’re feeding normally!” 

I’m going to discuss some of the ‘reasons’ people have given for indulging in a #brelfie. 

1.  Normalise Breast Feeding.

Really?  Breastfeeding mothers are actually using this as a reason for a #brelfie.  So if you think it needs to be normalised then you’re implying that you don’t consider it to be normal.  It is normal.  My 8 year old nephew knows that it’s normal.  My rabbit knows it’s normal.  There’s not a person on the planet that considers the most natural thing in the world to be abnormal.  So if your reason for getting involved is ‘normalising’ you can rest now.  Everyone already knew how normal it is.   If on the off chance somebody out there does think breastfeeding is abnormal and vile, do you actually think a bunch of Facebook photos is going to change that?  If a new mother is unsure about breastfeeding is seeing a bunch of campaigners going to make her say, “Oh right ok I’ll breastfeed now!”  Nevermind all the other issues that cause uncertainty towards breastfeeding.  We don’t need to normalise normal things. 

2.  Raise Awareness.

Similar sort of thing again, we don’t need to raise awareness of something that everybody is aware of.  People don’t see a breastfeeding mother in a restaurant and think, “Crikey, what the hell is going on there?!”  They see a breastfeeding mother arguing with the manager and creating a scene and think, “My god what an attention seeker!”  We’re all aware of nature’s intention for breasts.  We don’t need to see social media rants to be aware.  How about you campaigners raise awareness for something that people are unaware of?  Like Count for Kicks campaign.  As a first time mom you really don’t know what normal movement is and panic at the slightest change or might not be aware of the slightest change.  Or the NSPCC and raise awareness of actual selfish mothers, not mothers you deem to be selfish for formula feeding!  Oh wait, if you campaign for a charity then the attention isn’t on you… But that’s ok because it’s not for attention… 

3.  Sticking up for Breasfeeding Mothers.

I don’t get this.  So many mothers just get on with breastfeeding and don’t post a single social media update.  They don’t need defending, the secure mothers are fully aware of the varying opinions surrounding breastfeeding but concentrate on the only opinion that matters… Theirs!  Who exactly are we sticking up for because the worst thing is, these saintly mothers are the first to attack somebody that has a different opinion.  Updating their status to attack formula feeding moms, calling people horrible names on public forums – people they’ve never met!  If you’re so lovely you wouldn’t be getting into arguments that require you to stick up for breastfeeding mothers. 

4.  To Capture the Moment.

The humblebraggers that claim they’re involved because quite simply, they just want to capture the moment.  That is nice and I capture many intimate moments with my baby but if that is the sole intention of a breast feeding photo then it doesn’t need to be shared with the world.  I do have moments that I choose to show off, I’m willing to admit that I indulge in the occassional image crafting humblebrag but I’ll be honest about it.  The whole world didn’t care that I took my sisters to New York, but I’ll still show off about it.  You can’t claim it’s a perfect intimate moment then completely shatter the intimacy by posting it to the whole world. 

5.  I’m Proud of Myself!

Here we go… My baby was premature, my baby wouldn’t latch, my baby had a tongue tie, I nearly died, I had a miscarriage.  (Three out of five of those reasons purposely apply to me so I’m not being nasty.) Yes it is awesome when your baby is born with a tongue tie and the midwife says he might not latch, then she comes back and says you’re a complete natural.  It is great when you come round from a near death experinece and there is nothing more magical than feeling your baby suckling away.  If you are posting for this reason, ok I kind of get it but does it have to be viral?  Does everyone need to see?  Or actually is it just you mom, best friend and partner that ‘like’ your picture because they actually care.  Why not just send a private group message? The people that don’t care don’t need to see. 

I know I always say, “If people choose to look…” Ultimately, we all have the choice to unfollow, block or not click the link. In this situation, I just don’t understand why you would want to give people the option to look. You don’t know who is looking! I personally wouldn’t mind my family seeing a brelfie but my boss? My ex? No thanks, I’d find it weird. 

I’m sure there are more reasons, if I’m missing the point please let me know.  This isn’t a criticism of breast feeding mothers it’s a ‘seriously, what is the point of #brelfies’ discussion? Somebody help me understand!  I’m not for or against brelfies, I just don’t get the campaign. 

I absolutely don’t think this is an argument against brelfies, “Some people can’t breastfeed so it makes them feel like a crap mom.”  First of all, we can’t consider everybody’s individual circumstance when we post anything online.  Somebody will object, that’s just diversity in the world.  Somebody will object to me writing this.  Secondly, breastfeeding doesn’t automatically make you a good mother.  We shouldn’t use breastfeeding as a scale of good.  Although it is perceived to be the ‘good’ thing, there is always a bigger picture!  Is a formula feeding mom with a tongue tied baby worse than a mom that breastfeeds whilst on drugs, pumping god knows what into the child? So, it’s just not a scale of goodness.

That brings me on to my final point, I think the sad truth behind a brelfie is that so many mothers are constantly seeking validation.  We live in a digital age where everything we do is under scrutiny.  Post an innocent photo of your family and somebody will comment, “Ooohhh I’d tuck those wires in if I were you!”  Post an update about weaning, “Ooohhh he’s a bit young isn’t he?” Everytime we post anything on social media we are seeking valiation, I’m doing it right now.  I want to validate myself as a good writer/blogger. When somebody agrees with me it will validate my belief that I have a point. 

Unfortunately it happens in motherhood too.  There is one person that I need validation from about my parenting skills.  My little Oliver.  If he is happy, then I’m a good mom.  If he grows up telling me he loves me, I’m a good mom.  I don’t need to validate my mothering skills by posting a brelfie with the subtext, “Look at me I’m a good mom, I’m doing the best thing for my baby.” And I think that is the real point behind a #brelfie.