By: Lisa Norton
(Family Honor Editor’s Note: This blog is part 2 of a 2-part commentary on the recent refusal of a Victoria’s Secret employee to allow a customer to breastfeed her infant child in a dressing room at one of their stores. This commentary offers a woman’s perspective on this issue, while last week’s post (click here to view), provided a man’s perspective.)
Victoria’s Secret made national news recently by denying a nursing mom the right to breastfeed her fussy son in the store, instead instructing her to go breastfeed in an alley nearby. Oh, the irony of breasts being consigned to “discreet” areas for fear of leaking to the public the true reason women have them to begin with!
Poor Victoria’s Secret. She just doesn’t get it, does she? Famous for marketing phrases like, “Ooh La La Lift,” “Hello, Bombshell, Add Two Cup Sizes!,” and “Instant Hourglass Oomph!” the store seems to have a corner on specialty bras. Or does it? So many choices, so little understanding of the dignity of women. Victoria Secret’s bras are no secret. According to the store’s own descriptions, they are for a conspicuous display of breasts as show/play things. Conspicuous, that is, as long as they are not lactating. In which case, they become worthy of covering.
To separate the beauty of a woman’s breasts with the reason that God made breasts is to objectify not just breasts but women. Put simply, breasts point to the fact that women were created to have a vital role in the continuation of the human race.
“Motherhood has been introduced into the order of the Covenant that God made with humanity in Jesus Christ. Does not Jesus bear witness to this reality when he answers the exclamation of that woman in the crowd who blessed him for Mary’s motherhood: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!”? Jesus replies: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it”(Lk 11:27-28). Jesus confirms the meaning of motherhood in reference to the body, but at the same time he indicates an even deeper meaning, which is connected with the order of the spirit: it is a sign of the Covenant with God who “is spirit” (Jn 4: 24)” (Apostolic Letter On The Dignity And Vocation Of Women, Blessed JPII, 1988). Blessed John Paul II’s letter in 1988 goes on to state, “The history of every human being passes through the threshold of a woman’s motherhood.”
The beauty of the dignity of women as she is created by God is greatly misunderstood by today’s media images of fake women and by stores like Victoria’s Secret. For real women, their femininity and their fertility is a gift. Whereas society may see the summation of a woman’s femininity in her breasts, the truth is quite different. A woman’s femininity comes from a rightly-ordered understanding of a woman’s gift of self. Her gift of self is only fully understood through the lens of the virtue of chastity. Chastity makes us able to love with a Christ-like love and to understand our role as sexual beings. We are created to be a sincere gift of self in relationship with others. When this relationship is between a man and a woman, as in married love, the relationship is meant to be full, free, forever, fruitful, and faithful. This understanding of married love is lost when women are objectified, as in Victoria’s Secret ads.
Victoria’s Secret’s official support of breastfeeding women in their corporate response to this incident does not absolve them of due blame in my book. They portray women as objects and women repeatedly buy into the message to the tune of some six billion USD a year. I, personally, can think of better ways to spend money.
Lisa Norton is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools several of her 6 children. She is also trained in the Creighton Model of NFP. She and her family reside in the Upstate region of South Carolina.