Breastfeeding controversies are so persistent that even the way breastfeeding is promoted and labeled continues to come under fire. This time, parents are split over Target's "natural feeding" signage for breastfeeding supplies and whether the term "natural" is appropriate.
The debate was reignited by the Facebook page Breastfeeding Mama Talk, run by Kristy Kemp. The breastfeeding advocate posted a photo of a Target aisle that had a "natural feeding" sign and asked moms, "Do you like that Target used 'natural feeding' to label their aisle or do you think they should have just said 'breastfeeding' or 'breastfeeding supplies'? How do you feel about all the people trying to dictate how we refer to breastfeeding? Does stating something about breastfeeding imply or insinuate something about formula feeding?"
People have been complaining about Target's "natural feeding" signs for years.
"One of the aisles @Target is marked 'bottle feeding' and 'natural feeding.' Are we really afraid of the word 'breast,' Target?? C'mon now," tweeted Sharon Morse in 2016.
Even as far back as 2010, user @sarahr wrote, "I find it interesting that Target labels the section containing products related to nursing 'Natural Feeding.' More insulting to bottle-fed?"
One huge reason some are upset is because a loaded term like "natural," which is strongly linked to something that's "healthier" or "better," can be off-putting to moms who don't end up breastfeeding for a number of reasons. To these moms, although the term "natural" is technically correct, it can also imply that those who don't breastfeed are doing something unnatural. Like the well-known statement, "breast is best," "natural" can exacerbate the guilt and sense of failure moms might already feel for supplementing or exclusively formula-feeding.
Another reason people are upset? They feel that by using "natural feeding" instead of "breastfeeding," Target is avoiding saying the word "breast," making it more taboo than it should be. (Though we should note here that some Target stores do have signs that say "breastfeeding" and its website also uses "breastfeeding.")
Kemp herself shared that, in her view, formula is unnatural, adding that breastfeeding moms shouldn't have to be ostracized for stating facts about the benefits of breastfeeding.
"Formula is a man-made alternative. Why can we not call it as it is? It's not like when we say, 'Breastfeeding is natural' we're saying 'And formula is artificial and man made ha ha ha ha ha,'" she wrote in her post and in the comments. "I want to know when labeling something natural and something else artificial became a bad thing. I feel like some people want to have it both ways. They talk on and on about how far we have come with science and being able to provide alternatives for things that we were not able to attain naturally, but yet we are looked at as villains when we dare use the natural/artificial label?"
Many supported her view, and sympathized with Target's "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. As for Target's thoughts? We reached out to the mom-favorite company for comment.
"To help guests navigate our stores, we put a lot of thought into how things are organized and the signs that we use," a Target spokesperson told Mom.me. "This particular sign is outdated and will be removed immediately from the one store where it remains. We apologize, and appreciate all the feedback that we have received on this topic."