I have now seen that infamous picture of Rachel McAdams pumping her breast milk while clad in Versace and rocking bright-red lipstick for a magazine photo shoot no fewer than 20 times.
The first time I saw it, I was like, Oh OK, that's cool. Good for her.
The second time I saw it, I was like, OK, let's calm down. She's not the first woman to ever use a breast pump, for cryin' out loud.
And by the 20th time I saw it—celebrated, lauded and applauded—I started to get just a teensy bit annoyed. Not about McAdams or about breastfeeding or pumping in general, but just about how we all seem to fall all over ourselves the second a gorgeous celebrity is shown breastfeeding publicly. Anyone remember that not-widely-circulated-at-all photo of Gisele in her makeup chair, nursing her baby? Or how about another model strutting down the runway, her son still latched on to her breast?
Those images all seemed to make a huge splash in the name of celebrating breastfeeding, but I can't help but feel it's only celebrating breastfeeding that looks a certain way: pretty. And as anyone who has fed a baby from their breasts knows, breastfeeding isn't always pretty.
When I was camped out in the break room of the hospital break room, furtively pumping, and hoping no one would walk in, despite my homemade "Pumping in Progress" sign, while simultaneous shoveling my lunch in my mouth, I assure you it was not a pretty sight.
When the next floor I transferred to didn't offer a private room to pump and I was forced to drag a chair into the bathroom every time I wanted to pump and prayed earnestly that my baby didn't catch some horrible disease, I assure you, it was not pretty.
But at the same time, I just wish that we were just as excited for all of us "regular" moms out there too.
When I was delirious in an ER with a 105-degree fever (thanks, mastitis!) and my husband literally had to pump me like an actual cow, I assure you, it was not pretty.
Heck, even the photographer who snapped the now-iconic image of McAdams made a special note to point out in her Instagram post revealing the photo that most of us don't look like that while pumping and that's completely fine. "Side note: I did not look anywhere near as fabulous as this when feeding/pumping. And that’s OK too," she wrote.
Of course, she's right. It is absolutely OK that 98 percent of us don't pump while in the middle of magazine photo shoots wearing designer clothes and that most of us will have stories more similar to mine. And I'm happy for McAdams as a new mom who gets to be a voice for other moms and celebrate the power of breastfeeding. But at the same time, I just wish that we were just as excited for all of us "regular" moms out there too.
So, to all of the moms out there rocking a breast pump during night shift, balancing full bottles of breast milk in coolers to lug home, carefully disguising your lactation stains among your work uniform, still pumping in dirty, disgusting bathrooms because that's still a real issue in our country, and pumping through straight-up exhaustion while your baby fights to come home from the NICU, let me just say:
I see you.
And I think you look beautiful—Versace jacket, be damned.