Shoppers at an Oklahoma Kmart this weekend most likely expected to find crowds when they arrived, considering Christmas is less than two weeks away and the holiday shopping craze is in full swing. What they probably weren't expecting to see? A crowd of protestors standing outside the entrance, holding signs that read things like, "This baby needs my milk. Not your approval."
The group of nearly 40 protestors gathered on December 14 after news spread that a local mom was told by an employee to stop breastfeeding her 3-month-old daughter in the store. But while they definitely wanted their message to be heard loud and clear, demonstrator Angie Hepp insists that it was all very respectful.
"The vibe was extremely nonchalant, cordial and peaceful," Hepp told Yahoo. "No yelling, no chanting. There were no boobs hanging out, and you wouldn’t even know we were breastfeeding unless you purposely looked."
It was all done in support of another local mom, Angelica Williams, who just one week before had been shamed in the store by an employee. "When moms do breastfeed, they look for support. I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of it or embarrassed,” Williams later told Fox 23.
Kmart has since apologized, citing "a case of miscommunication" as the cause.
"We certainly respect a mother’s right to nurse in our stores," said Howard Riefs, the director of corporate PR at Kmart. "We also offer adequate privacy and comfort. We are following up with the store to continue to reinforce the proper policies and procedures."
"Women should feel accepted (and applauded!) for breastfeeding their babies in a restaurant booth, on a bench in the mall, on the grass at a park, or in line at the grocery store," protestor Samantha Pritchett said.
Just last week, another nurse-in was staged in Gastonia, N.C., after a breastfeeding mom was shamed in a Qdoba restaurant. In that case, the employee asked mom Karissa Riddle to cover herself up or leave, which was also against company policy and state law.