Mexico City campaign is accused of sexualizing breastfeeding

  A new and slightly racy advertising campaign that encourages new mothers to breastfeed has caused uproar in Mexico City. SEE ALSO: Halle Berry talks…
Mexico City campaign is accused of sexualizing breastfeeding

It’s clear that Mexico has a scarcity of mothers practicing breastfeeding with their children, but some say this ad campaign by the government got it all wrong. (Handout, Mexico City Govt.)

A new and slightly racy advertising campaign that encourages new mothers to breastfeed has caused uproar in Mexico City.

SEE ALSO: Halle Berry talks breastfeeding

The posters that have popped up around Mexico City feature topless celebrities covered only by a banner reading, “No les des la espalda, dale pecho,” or “Don’t turn your back on them, give them your breast.”

The campaign has sparked protest among health advocates, mothers’ groups, and women’s groups around the country, with the protestors claiming that the ads sexualize women and try to purposely guilt mothers into breastfeeding.

According to Huffington Post, a group of activists wrote a complaint to the city’s human rights commission, saying that the ads “condemn mothers, rather than informing them about breastfeeding, and they reduce a social problem with multiple players—fathers as well as mothers, workplaces, health authorities, and public spaces and the community at large—to one person: the mother.”

City officials had hoped that the advertising campaign would help increase the number of breastfeeding mothers in Mexico City, which currently has one of the lowest rate of breastfeeding mothers in Latin America. The World Health Organization suggests that mothers breastfeed their children exclusively for the first six months, but only one in seven mothers in Mexico follow this recommendation.

This Mexican mother feeds her child formula because breast feeding is too difficult.

In this May 19, 2013 photo, Ruth Gonzalez, a clothing company manager, feeds baby formula to her 9-month-old son Luis Fernando at her home in Mexico City. “Breast milk would have possibly been good for my baby’s health, but it was complicated. Formula was just easier,” she said.  (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Breast milk is richer in nutrients and vitamins that can keep a newborn healthy and prevent future problems like obesity, especially in an impoverished country where dirty water and lack of easily accessible nutritional resources pose a serious health threat.

The city’s campaign was also intended to draw attention to the dozens of breastfeeding areas that are being established around Mexico City, although only three of these centers are currently open.

Not only are health advocates and women’s groups protesting the guilt-inducing message of the ads, but they are also angered by the ultra-thin models and celebrities featured in the ads. Many have complained that the women in the ads look like they belong in shampoo or lingerie ads, but certainly not in ads geared toward new mothers.

Regina Tames, a member of the reproductive rights group GIRE, told NPR, “It’s not only a very terrible campaign in terms of how it looks, but it’s also the message that if you don’t breastfeed, you are a bad mothers and you are the one to blame.”

The campaign doesn’t address the many issues that deter women from breastfeeding, such as the fact that many women in Mexico City do not have the proper nutrition to breastfeed and are not allowed to breastfeed or pump while at work. Also, many women in Mexico City are not granted enough maternity leave to make breastfeeding a viable option.

Mexico City’s health director has declined interview requests, but he did inform a local radio station that the campaign will switch its focus to the 92 lactation rooms that are scheduled to open throughout the city in the near future. The pictures of the topless celebrities have been taken down from the city’s website due to the controversy.

SEE ALSO: How to breastfeed in public without shocking others