Katy Bullard didn't think twice about feeding her baby while she and her husband dined at a pizzeria last week. The Alabama mom breastfed her baby with a "two-shirt method," ensuring her breast was covered with a tank top underneath and a T-shirt on top, at Giovanna’s Pizzeria in Phenix City. About 20 minutes later, the mom said one of the restaurant owners approached her and told her she needed to cover herself up.
"Unless you were really looking, you would only think I was holding her," Bullard told WRBL.
Even if she were more exposed, the mom, who breastfeeds her 3-month-old daughter openly wherever she goes, doesn't think any breastfeeding mom should be treated how she was treated next.
According to a Facebook post Bullard wrote after the incident, the co-owner told Bullard that the mom's breastfeeding offended her "because she's a Christian." Bullard refused to cover up, saying she was protected in 40 states and could breastfeed wherever she wanted. (According to Alabama state law, "a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present.")
"She proceeded to attempt, without asking if she could touch me, to cover me and my baby's head with a dish rag (I assume clean but still a dish rag nonetheless)," the mom wrote. "I stopped her and told her that my husband and I would just leave. No one is going to make me cover my daughter who already has a hard time breathing with a damn dish rag. We will NEVER go back."
The other restaurant owner, Nelson Rodriguez, told WTVM that it was all a misunderstanding and his wife was trying to help out another customer who was uncomfortable with the breastfeeding. (Bullard noted that Rodriguez didn't witness what occurred between his wife and her.)
"Giovanna's has been in business for over 16 years. Our doors have always been open to everyone in the community with open arms. We receive all people and do not discriminate against anyone and most certainly not against such a natural and beautiful thing as breastfeeding. We have never had an issue with breastfeeding in the past," the owners said in a statement to WTVM. "This incident was not meant to intentionally embarrass this young lady. The motive was sincerely of good will intent. We are truly sorry that we offended her and expressed that to her. We also didn't ask her to leave; in fact, we told her she did not have to leave."
Bullard said she doesn't want the restaurant to close down or to seek legal action. (Some moms have turned to the court before, like this woman who was paid a settlement after she got kicked out of a public pool for breastfeeding.)
Instead the mom wants people to understand why it's wrong to treat breasts as dirty, sexual objects when a mother is just trying to feed her hungry child.
"What I do want is to enlighten this woman so that she can see that she was wrong. I want her to not treat others the way she has treated me. Breastfeeding is not dirty or sexual. It is natural and it should be normalized," Bullard said. "For those of you commenting that it is not decent to breastfeed in public, I hope you realize that more skin is shown in a low-cut top than I was showing this day. Look around you."
Breastfeeding in public is so controversial that women often share the ridiculous things they've been told or asked while trying to feed their baby. Really, moms just want to be left alone.