Ohio Billboard Promotes Breastfeeding, Offends Some

Driving around Downtown Cleveland and the greater Cleveland area, I have spotted a number of billboard advertisements promoting breastfeeding. Considering that only 58.5 percent of Ohio babies are ever breastfed, I thought the billboards were appropriate. Of the 50 states, we rank pretty far down on the bottom of the list. So, I can totally see why Ohio wants to promote breastfeeding. With so many Ohioans unemployed, and more women undoubtedly applying for WIC to help pay for their formula, the state could save a lot of money if women would instead utilize the milk their body provides. One of the billboards, however, has turned off quite a few Ohioans, who are offended at what appears to be breast milk dribbling out of the baby's mouth.

The billboard in question features a young child with a little bit of milk dripping out of its mouth and the slogan "Breast milk satisfies." The kid looks pretty satisifed so far as one can tell from a staged photo. There are no bare breasts in sight, so what's everyone finding so offensive about this ad? Apparently, it's the fact that the milk coming out of the baby's mouth is breast milk.

Never mind how cute or attractive people find the "Got Milk" campaigns and the trademark milk mustaches. A baby with breast milk on its chin is disgusting, you know, because it came from a woman and not a cow.

Fox Toledo spoke with a woman who said she liked the idea of promoting breastfeeding, but found the ad distasteful:

"When I first saw it I thought, you know, I agree with breast milk, it's fine but then I saw it with the milk around its mouth and I though that was so unappealing. The baby's cute, but I did not like the milk coming out of his mouth" said Stephanie Swan.

The new billboard ad is part of a statewide campaign from the Ohio Department of Health that is meant to show that breast milk is the perfect food for infants and its promoting the bond between a mother and a child.

So, Clevelanders and fellow Ohioans, what's your take on this ad? Do you love it, hate it, or do you feel indifferent to it?

Comments

LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!! If someone is offended then they have a serious problem and should seek counseling. I am so totally tired of people thinking that there is something wrong with breastfeeding and breastmilk.

Love that breastfeeding is getting some attention. I just wish they had shown breastfeeding not just milk on a babies mouth. I feel we try to shy away from moms breastfeeding their babies.

LOVE IT! Thanks for sharing. Babies drool... that's what they do. Whether is breast milk or formula. Breastfeeding is normal... so is drooling.

This billboard gives me hope for the future! Breastfeeding is so great that the multi-billion dollar formula industry fears any advertising and attention, promoting "breast as best" but you can't always be the best, eight? Well - the message is out now - breast is normal, the baseline standard. Formula feeding is inferior and risky.

How hard is this concept to understand? Breastfeeding is a great idea and should be accepted in public. BUT the ad is disgusting. The ad isn't "offensive" because of the subject matter, it's gross because the baby has what appears to be off-colored milk globbed on the side of its otherwise cute face. If I wanted to promote kids eating strained peas (also a good idea), a green glob of pea mush stuck to the kid's face wouldn't "promote" eating strained peas - it would gross people out, which is what this ad does to so many people. In this regard, the ad is a complete failure! The controversy isn't over breastfeeding, it's over the nasty photo. (Let's just pray the same ad company doesn't get a toilet paper account.)

This is what a satisfied baby actually looks like after he has just eaten. I breastfed my daughter for 6 months and I know what I'm saying. When they're done eating, babies tend to have a vacant, tired look, and milk around their mouth. it's also true for bottle-fed babies. And what about that "off-colored milk" comment? Breast milk can often be a little yellow. You probably have never actually seen breastfeeding in reality. Otherwise what is the problem?
So it's Ok to sell products with totally fake unnatural retouched photos of women and hypersexualisation, and fantasies about being rich and famous to get people into credit, but to show what babies look like in reality when they've just been breastfed is disgusting? Try getting info in real life rather than on TV is my counsel.

Are the same people who take offense at this ad also upset by the milk mustaches on the "Got Milk?" models?? Or is it really all about where that milk came from? It's ok from a cow, but not from the human breast. Get over it, you Victorian prudes. Human milk for human babies.

That is exactly the same question I have. I've never heard anyone being offended by the Got Milk ads. But imply the milk is breastmilk and you get "that's disgusting!" Give me a freakin' break.

People seem outraged because of the milk slobber on the black baby's chin. Not mentioned anywhere else is the fact that there is a white baby too. The white baby does not have the slobber all over it's chin like it's black counterpart - and the white baby is not place in as many spots. Why? because they are trying to reach the target market - unemployed black women who don't take care of their kids. The slobber is on the kids mouth so the the black women who can't read will be able to figure it out.

"because they are trying to reach the target market - unemployed black women who don't take care of their kids"

I marvel at the fact it took this long for some moron to turn this into a race issue......

.....maybe things are getting better, however slowly and painfully.

I think the Ohio Dept. of Health turned the whole campaign into a race issue, otherwise, other races would be represented instead of just one.

or maybe they just used this baby because he's cute, and actually has nothing to do with what race he is? are you saying that people only ever use black models to make a point? i saw this ad and didn't think about his race at all!

I agree that maybe they are targeting the billboards more toward black women but I don't agree with your reasoning. I think it's because a smaller percentage of black women breastfeed compared to whites and hispanics.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121755349

"In fact, national rates have been rising for African-Americans — a study last year found that the number initiating breast-feeding had jumped from 36 percent in 1993-1994 to 65 percent in 2005-2006.

But that number still lags far behind whites and Hispanics, and figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the proportion who continues nursing exclusively soon plunges into single digits."

You're an unintelligent douche.

.... So i'ts perfectly acceptable to have towering billboards with people of all ages and races and colours wearing a milk moustache.... but it's NOT ok to show a baby with a dribble of breastmilk on it's chin?!?
I think that people that find this ad disgusting or offensive really need to re-analyse just WHY they dislike it.

As a breast feeding mother who will soon be calling Ohio home, I love that they are promoting breast feeding this way. However it concerns me that so many people find milk around the babies mouth unappealing. Really? Its not snot or urine! It is the wonderful, perfect food that we creat for our babies.

The irony here is that I breastfed both of my babies. And I hated it. I felt like the proverbial cow of the Got Milk? ads. I felt primeval. I felt gross and soggy and milkish all day long, every day. I was at the mercy of these nipples that sprouted milk whenever they felt like it, or whenever I saw another baby, or when I felt sad or happy or maternal or -- and this is the most horrible part of all -- when I was engaged in intimacy with my husband! It was confusing, messy, horrific, demeaning, awkward and, at the risk of repeating myself, GROSS. So, yes. Breastmilk is great. It's the best thing a mom can give her babies. I get it. I also hated it. I don't like seeing other women breastfeed in public. Why should I have to see that, it's like smoking -- if you want to smoke, great, smoke, but why do I have to smoke too whenever you feel like it?

I get it, you hated it, but comparing smoking in public to breastfeeding in public - seriously?? Smoking is bad for your health and the health of those around you. Breastfeeding isn't bad for anyone's health. Just the opposite. There are numerous benefits for both mother and baby. And it doesn't affect any bystanders' health one way or the other. Come up with a better comparison and I might not think you're a complete moron.

I understand why some people find breastfeeding in public wrong, but seriously, babies have to eat and when you're out in public, why shouldn't they be able to? Nudity is no big thing, this country is so up tight about it and i wish we would get over ourselves. So when a woman needs to breastfeed her baby - go ahead.

As for the ad - it's just friggin' milk!! Who cares if it came from a woman's breast? What do you think babies ate thousands of years ago? That's right, they ate breast milk.

It's really important to me that you not think I'm a complete moron. Wow. The point was hyperbolic, perhaps -- can morons use words like hyperbolic? -- people who smoke don't think what they're doing should or could bother anyone else. Same with breastfeeding mothers. OK, America is puritanical and uptight, whatever. The fact remains that breasts are inextricably linked with sexuality in our public consciousness. I don't want to see people having sex on park benches. I don't want to smell cigarette smoke when I'm out and about. And I don't want to see women's boobs or hear the smacking of baby mouths on nipples. That just makes my skin crawl. Hooray for being able to feed your baby the way God intended -- and I did it for 6 months for both of my kids but not where anyone could see because I was not comfortable with that. Hooray for nature, hooray for saving money, hooray for vitamins and bonding. I still think it's gross and I don't want to have to see it.

You sound like you have some issues with your body. Speaking to a breastfeeding counsellor could help you work through some of this and become a positive force for moms and babies to get that lovely breastmilk and breastfeeding relationship.

How long did you actually breastfeed, though? The leaking, spraying part doesn't last that long. Maybe the first 6 weeks and for some a few weeks longer, but usually by 3-4 months your body is normalized and it isn't as bad. And, of course, you must have been a lucky woman who produced lots of milk, I work with so many who have alot of difficulty producing enough for their babies. I'm surprised that you saw it as gross, my husband thought it was like melted ice cream and we laughed and giggled when spontaneous spraying would happen.

It's just how you look at things and we knew that it was the normal way that babies should be fed, a miracle that I could nourish our children totally and look at cow's milk and chemical added formula's as gross and smelly.

I don't understand how you have a problem with public breatsfeeding. when i feed my 11 month old you can't see any of my breasts. most women i see are very discreet and have far less flesh on display than many women walking around in revealing clothing. reading these posts im just glad i live in New Zealand where breastfeeding is pretty commonly accepted anywhere, i would hate to live somewhere where I am frowned upon for doing something as harmless as breastfeeding!

this is awesome. but the backlash is stupid. I agree, at least it isn't snot or something else gross. Breastfeeding is OK, but the milk isn't? Get your head in the game people and wake up. And I was waiting on the race issue too..There's allllways a race issue. *shakes my head sadly*

I personally find things coming out of babies mouths unappealing. Almost on par with an image of drool coming out of an adult's mouth. I would've rather have seen a baby latched and suckling away, without the nipple in view, of course. That's just dirty.

One small step to making breastfeeding normal. Show us breastmilk, show us breasts, show us feeding babies. Midwesterners who get the heebie jeebies from breastfeeding or the sight of breastmilk are the population that most needs a good dose of immersion therapy! Breastfeeding rates are so low because we don't know how to do it because it's kept in such a shameful closet. Keep it up, Ohio! And having a black baby is particularly fantastic as breastfeeding rates are lower among minorities in the U.S.

Clearly people who are getting offended have never really taken care of a baby. This is probably the least gross thing coming out of a baby : uningested milk. What about showing people the feces that breasted babies have, or the milk they sometimes throw up, or the slobber when they teethe... Seriously, this is just milk, and this is a picture of reality. Please get offended at breast implants that publishers force us to see on every cover or in ever ad, at those false ads where the guy is all alone driving his car on a beach, or any of the lies shown in most processed foods commercials, but don't start getting annoyed at a picture of a baby fed natural breastmilk. It's one of the least disgusting ads I've ever seen in my life.

I nursed my own 3 children and think that breastfeeding should be promoted and protected- but as a nursing mom, I find this image on the verge of revolting. My children never drooled breastmilk down their chin- they swallow it. This baby looks like he just came up for air after feeding at a trough and does not reflect positively to the beauty and grace of the nursing relationship. If the aim was to try to help our society get over the hangups people have over a this part of normal human biology and child-rearing- this image is a terrible failure.

you didn't really breastfeed now, did you? Be honest. A bit of milk dribbling always happens bottle or breast.

Have to agree with the previous commenter. You didn't really breastfeed, or you were incredibly blind while doing it. Babies drool. Milk leaks out the corners of little mouths. Formula or breastmilk, it happens.

Breeeasssssmilk...you made my dayyyyy

and it looks like baby cosby

Good message. Awful picture. The billboard doesn't say "yeah, good idea." it says "OMG look at that baby with white stuff all around his mouth".

Just sayin', initial response driving by...

I loved the ad and have to disagree with the Stepford mom of 3 who found the ad on the verge of revolting and never lost a drop of milk in the feeding process. When I feed my daughter and she finishes, I adore that happy satified look she gives me and, yes, it is usually accompanied by a milk mustache. I am sure when the advertising agency chose this image, they did so because the ad shows a happy content baby and the milk on her face subconsciously triggers thoughts of abundance. Think of other ads you've seen with overflowing soda, ginormous burgers, etc...don't most American ads play on our desire to have more than we need??? The worry that you won't have enough milk to feed your baby is a worry most mothers feel and reason many chose not to breastfeed.

The other reason it was chosen was because dispite living in a country where you have access to non-stop pornographic images, you show a breast doing what it is supposed to do and people freak out.

Is breastfeeding easy? No, but like most things in life, you can chose the easy way or the best way. I hope the ad encourages more women to consider breastfeeding as an option.

Just a note on the claim that the state would save $ on WIC by encouraging breastfeeding.

If you exclusively formula feed, WIC will give you vouchers to pay for the formula. If you breast feed, WIC gives you the same amount in Vouchers to buy milk, cheese, eggs, juice ... in order to eat healthy - I guess so the milk comes out better. So there is really no net savings.

Formula is super expensive, I'd have to see that it's the same amount of money spent on food for mom. Either way, it's still a savings as more breastfeeding means lessfar less illness means less use of Medicaid funds for low income families.

I think it's great that they are promoting breastfeeding. And while the benefits of breastfeeding are pounded into our heads over and over, it is NOT that easy to do. Maybe education needs to be more focused on HOW to breastfeed, not just how great it is. We already know how great it is...now teach us mothers how to do it! And honestly, my son was MORE satisfied when I switched to formula when he was 2 month old. And my son has formula dribbling down his chin after I feed him too. Get the kid a burp cloth.

If breastfeeding was allowed to be more out in the open, it would be easier for everyone to do it. Education can only go so far. People need to see it and hear it and talk about it and it will be easier as we'd know what to expect with breastfeeding.

I couldn't agree with you more. But, for people out there who've never had a child, they just don't quite understand what breastfeeding involves. It's A LOT harder than I ever imagined it would be. I thought you just put your baby on your boob & they went to town. My poor son had an extremely hard time latching on & he lost SOOO much weight in the beginning. He was starving! It was a rough breastfeeding experience from the start. I agree that if it WAS more out in the open then women could get more help. The ad doesn't offend me at all. I'm just simply saying that my formula fed son looks just like that kid in the ad after he eats, too.

There definitely needs to be more information/help/education for breastfeeding mothers...and a lot less disgust for women who can't breastfeed and HAVE to formula feed. I was put on blood thinners after both of my pregnancies and could not breastfeed my children. I can't tell you how many times I have been looked down upon because I couldn't breastfeed my children.

I breastfed all of mine and was looked down on plenty too... even by my own family... which saddened me... I think breastfeeding mothers are just so busy defending their position because we do tend to come under scrutiny that we just don't see past ourselves... seems our experiences weren't that different... I'm very sorry you dealt with this from the other side of the fence so to speak...

There is nothing even REMOTELY offensive about this billboard. I am PROUD of whoever put them up. Awesome idea, awesome billboard, awesome picture!!!! Keep it up!!!

Evidently those opposed to the billboard do not have kids. And have never been around very young kids. The only thing I find wrong with it is that the billboard looks like it was made in the 70s. It just looks outdated.

I have always been satisfied breast feeding

I have always been satisfied breast feeding

I STILL don't get what's wrong with seeing a woman's breast... it's perfectly fine. They're SUPPOSED to feed babies. Anybody who gets upset about a little boob here and there has personal (maybe sexual?) issues that need to be checked. I think it's a perfectly fine billboard... as for milk coming out of a baby's mouth... uh, hello? It's a baby... they do that.

Breasts, without nipples, would be pointless...think about it.

Okay... help me here... why is this offensive? Cows milk is different how? We make COWS our wet-nurses... and take issue with a drooling baby??? Something's wrong with that and it's NOT the woman that takes her child to her breast... there are times that a wet-nurse is necessary as there are women who simply can't breastfeed exclusively or at all... but those women really are in the minority... so why then does our society by and large look down on breastfeeding???

Okay... help me here... why is this offensive? Cows milk is different how? We make COWS our wet-nurses... and take issue with a drooling baby??? Something's wrong with that and it's NOT the woman that takes her child to her breast... there are times that a wet-nurse is necessary as there are women who simply can't breastfeed exclusively or at all... but those women really are in the minority... so why then does our society by and large look down on breastfeeding???

I think they could have thought of a million better ways of advertising to get people to think positively about breastfeeding.

Why did they choose an African American baby with milk dribbling out of his mouth? Were they trying to say that his mom can't wipe his face? Give me a break on saying they were trying to imitate the "Got Milk" campaign. That campaign was all about looking at milk mustaches. It was cute, but this is dribble. Nothing funny about that. I can't believe they thought this was a good idea. I think it is time to spend our tax dollars a little wiser. They should fire the whole marketing department at the Ohio Department of Health. They are not promoting Health just stupidity.

Shame on you Ohio Dept of Health. Use the money to educate not to try and make infants and their mothers look bad. How much of my tax dollars did you waste on this?