PARENTS

'The Mindy Project' Tackles The Struggles Of Breastfeeding In Public

Even fictional characters have to deal with it.

10/07/2015 15:50 EDT | Updated 10/07/2015 15:50 EDT
NBC via Getty Images

A new episode of "The Mindy Project" has highlighted the shame many moms experience when they breastfeed their children in public.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

In season four's episode "The Bitch Is Back," Mindy Kaling's character, Dr. Mindy Lahiri, debates whether to return to work at the end of her maternity leave or stay at home with her son, Leo. She also runs into a man who shames her for breastfeeding her baby on the subway. "No offense, ma'am, but there’s a time and a place for that," the passenger says. 

Dr. Lahiri calls the man out for shaming her, but buttons up after he and the rest of the passengers start chanting, "Put them away!" She is then booed as she exits the subway car. 

Kaling's character later discovers that her "subway shamer" is Jody Kimball-Kinney (played by Garret Dillahunt), a sexist doctor who has been hired at her office. In one of the final scenes of the episodes, she unintentionally squirts him in the face with breast milk.

All comedic elements aside, the episode highlights an issue many breastfeeding moms face. In September, a mom's Facebook post went viral after she said she was told to nurse her baby in a Marshalls bathroom stall. In May, moms staged a nurse-in during a taping of "Today" after Hoda Kotb said that sharing breastfeeding photos on social media was "TMI."

It's important to note that it was perfectly legal for Dr. Lahiri to breastfeed among her fellow subway passengers. Currently, 49 states have laws that specifically protect a mother's right to breastfeed in public. (Idaho is the exception, but the fictional world of "The Mindy Project" takes place in New York, where it's perfectly legal.)

The difficulty mothers face in breastfeeding their babies in public is alive and well in the real world. Thanks to "The Mindy Project," it's getting some attention on television, too.

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