Oh Bethenny and Rachael, you two have really stepped in it now.
Last week, Bethenny Frankel, of reality shows "Bethenny Getting Married?" and "Bethenny Ever After" fame appeared on the "Rachael Ray" show to dish about her new book and upcoming one-woman show. Frankel also took a few minutes to do a "Frankel 411," answering audience questions on everything from losing that post-baby weight to public breastfeeding.
And that's where things got a little sketchy. When Frankel was asked for breastfeeding advice by a soon-to-be mom, she responded by telling the woman to "keep it private" and "find a corner or a back room," so as to avoid making other people uncomfortable. And Rachael Ray backs her up on this advice.
Watch the video of Frankel here (the breastfeeding question comes at around 2:45.) Here's the transcript:
Shea: I'm expecting my second child and strongly thinking of breastfeeding. What are your rules for public breastfeeding, like where is it appropriate?
Bethenny: I think, unless you are Pamela Anderson, you shouldn't be showing anyone your breasts besides your husband and your baby.
Rachael Ray: Exactly.
Bethenny: I really do. I think you should find a corner, or there is always a back room, I just think it makes other people uncomfortable. When you are a mother you think everyone is 'in on' what you're 'in on,' [. . .] but they're not. Because I didn't know anything about [breastfeeding] until I was pregnant and I was sensitive to the fact that it would have flipped me out. So I think, just keep it private. But definitely breastfeed and do things your own way, but in that one way, I would keep it a little bit private. Whipping out your boob at the dinner table is a good diet tip for everyone else.
As you can imagine, pro-breastfeeding sites went wild with this public lack of support for nursing moms. At last count, there were 144 comments on Rachael Ray's site alone — almost all of which were expressing their anger, frustration and disappointment in both Ray and Frankel for their advice. Here are two of my favorite comments, that I think sum up the reaction nicely:
@kjenkins: Nobody puts baby in a corner.... including mine. As a working mother, if we go to dinner and my child is hungry, I feed him. At the table. With my family. Discreetly. You are doing a disservice to mothers who already feel self-conscious enough about bf by telling them to go in a corner.
@bethgio: Bethany...moms who breastfeed in public are not whipping out anything...they are discreet and have the right to nurse their baby where they are, not head off to a back room...shame on u for even bringing up Pam Anderson...breastfeeding is not sexual...wow...for a breastfeeding mother, you blew it!
I couldn't agree with these two comments more. I mean really, here was a woman asking for advice about breastfeeding and Frankel all but said that it is a shameful act that we should hide so as to avoid making others feel uncomfortable. She had the perfect opportunity to offer thoughtful advice about breastfeeding in public, to explain to Shea that it is her right to breastfeed her baby whenever and wherever she needs to. Instead she chose to go for the quick laugh. If she wants to hide in a corner to feed her baby, that is her prerogative, but why shame another woman into doing the same?
Do you agree? Please share your thoughts here on Frankel's advice to breastfeeding women. And while you're at it, feel free to share your thoughts with Rachael Ray, too: showcomments@RachaelRayShow.com.