Mom Shamed for Breastfeeding at TGI Fridays

by Kaitlin Stanford

When a young mom stepped out for lunch in Terre Haute, Ind. last Wednesday, the last thing she expected was to later find her photo splashed across Facebook, thanks to a fellow diner. But that's exactly what happened to 20-year-old Conner Kendall, who was publicly shamed on Facebook for breastfeeding in her local TGI Fridays.

It seems that mid-way through her meal, Kendall paused to breastfeed her 4-month-old son at the table. (You know, because he was hungry. As babies are known to get.) This apparently disgusted a man who was sitting three tables over, prompting him to snap a photo and take to Facebook in protest.

So went the now deleted post:

Ok moms out there. I know when a baby is Hungry they need fed. I went to know if this is appropriate as I’m trying to eat my Fridays, there are little kids around.. I understand feeding in public but could you at least cover your boob up?! Your input is needed! [sic]

Sigh. Where to begin with this one? (Aside from all the hideous grammatical errors.)

For starters, can we stop hearing the argument that public breastfeeding is somehow scarring or hard to explain to young children? We're talking about children, who may or may not have been breastfed themselves by their own mothers –– and not so long ago, either.

Secondly, that super offensive scene he was subjected to? It looked something like this:

The horror!

"I turned away from everybody because we were in a corner," Kendall later explained to ABC News. "I really didn’t feel like I was that exposed."

Needless to say, when Kendall caught wind of the post through a local moms group, she was shocked. Really shocked. Especially since she had tried to be discrete while feeding her son, and only opted to forgo a nursing cover because he often "fights [and] screams doesn't eat at all while under them."

But then she got pissed. Really pissed.

Not only was she just trying feed her kid, but she was also totally within her legal rights to do so –– whenever, wherever, state the federal breastfeeding laws.

So a day later, Kendall took to Facebook to unleash a rant of her own. And man, did the Internet totally have her back on this one.

In a lengthy post, she not only rehashed what really happened, but also went on to count all the ways in which the man's public shaming of her highlights just how badly everyone needs to get over it already with the double-standards on breastfeeding.

Here's a bit of Kendall's two-cents, which she directed at the unnamed man:

While I in no way, shape, or form owe you any explanation I would like to clarify a few things. I did nothing wrong, I turned away to latch my son and pulled my shirt back up when he was finished out of respect for others in the restaurant. I do not use a cover, because my son fights them, screams, and doesn't eat at all while under them. If he had been screaming because he was hungry then I would be a bad mom for not feeding my hungry child. I did not pump before leaving home, A-because my son does not like to take a bottle and B-because it is my right to feed him any way I see fit wherever I see fit.

And just in case you weren't sure if she really meant business:

I am backed up and supported, in my choice to breastfeed, by FEDERAL law. Wherever I am allowed to be, I am allowed to feed my child there also. While I appreciate you taking down my photo and backpedalling into a sort of apology... Know this, I will not tolerate any sort of action like this again. If you post the picture of my child and me ever again I will seek legal action. I will publicly shame you as you have shamed me. I will be supported by a multitude of other moms, dads and advocates of breastfeeding. We will be heard.

The post, which has been shared over 82,000 times as of Tuesday, has also racked up more than 400 likes, plus tons of virtual high-fives from moms who've totally been there.

Facebook user Jennifer Stewart joined hundreds of others in patting Kendall on the back, before throwing down a super valid point I hadn't even thought of:

So proud of you Conner! I have always agreed that until people start eating in the bathroom, a baby has the right to be breastfed in a restaurant.

Touche, Jennifer.

Mom Melissa Hauser also chimed in, adding that this breastfeeding thing is hard. So back off, haters:

Good for you for standing up for not only yourself and child, but for your rights to feed him. All breastfeeding mom's should be supported! It isn't easy.

TGI Fridays also has Conner’s back on this. In an email to Bustle, a spokesperson for the franchise stated, "TGI Fridays respects a parent’s right to raise their child in a positive, healthy manner, free from unwarranted criticism. To that end, we fully support our guests in being able to breastfeed in our restaurants. It goes for this situation and all times a mom is breastfeeding her child."

As Kendall notes in her post, she also reached out to the man in a private Facebook message –– and didn't hold back there, either.

"I let him know that it was not OK to make me feel bad for feeding my child," she told ABC News. "I showed less than ... you see every day walking down the street."

In the end, Kendall did eventually get an apology from the man, though she says his response was short and a bit "insincere" in her opinion.

But here's what's most important: she stood up for herself after being publicly violated; and by extension, she stood up for every mom's right to breastfeed wherever they damn well want to. For that, she deserves some major cred. After all, how many times are we going to hear about how important it is to breastfeed your baby during those first six months... but then be made to feel that it's only cool if we do it so long as nobody has to see it, ever?

"All mommies should be able to feed their babies whenever, wherever, and however they choose!" Kendall declares in her post.

To that, we say:

You can read Kendall's awesome post in its entirety right here. (And believe me –– you should.)

Images: Daniel Peinada/Flickr; Conner Kendall/Facebook; Giphy