Breastfeeding In Public: Equinox Gym Ad Featuring Nursing Model Sparks Controversy

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A new ad by U.S. gym chain Equinox is causing quite a stir for featuring glammed up model Lydia Hearst posing topless and pretending to breastfeed twins.

The provocative image is one of seven that make up Equinox’s “Commit to Something” campaign for the new year. However, Hearst’s image in particular drew the most criticism for hitting a sensitive topic: breastfeeding in public.

Public nursing has long been a controversial issue, despite the fact that it is legal in 49 U.S. states and in Canada under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

After the release of the ad, the public revealed their mixed reactions on social media.

“Disgusting on two levels,” one critic wrote on Hearst’s Facebook page. “1. no one wants to lose their appetite at dinner by seeing breastfeeding and boobs not being covered up (gross)... it takes away the rights of other diners, 2. They aren't even her kids (gross)... and furthermore, I breastfed... but I excused myself or covered up... WHY do some women think that their right to breastfeed in public means that they have to whip out an entirely naked boob just to make a point WHY?”

Despite the harsh criticism from some, others saw the ad as a positive way to normalize breastfeeding. One Facebook user wrote: “I’m so happy that the public will be exposed to breastfeeding en masse! This inadvertently makes you a breastfeeding in public advocate! Go you!”

Another said, “Yaaass and I am so proud of these image because women should be able to breastfeed in public without been harassed (sic).”

In regards to criticism towards the ad, fashion photographer Steven Klein, who shot the campaign, unapologetically said: “It is the responsibility of advertising to communicate modern times and social issues. This campaign addresses today's issues and social commentaries, which is a powerful approach, instead of portraying people as superficial objects with no narrative.”


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