Enormous breasts have appeared all over London.
Five of them, actually, in different tones and sizes — as part of a campaign called #FreeTheFeed to fight stigma against breastfeeding in public.
They popped up on Mother’s Day, March 31, thanks to a technology firm called Elvie, which focuses on innovation for women’s health.
Elvie is known as the inventor of the world’s first silent, wearable breast pump. It fits under your bra, allows you to pump on the move, and comes with an app that tracks your history.
The highlight of the invention is that it operates covertly, though Sunday’s stunt was anything but covert.
“It’s an invitation to everyone to stand with all those women that have felt shamed or confined when breastfeeding or pumping,” Tania Boler, CEO of Elvie, told the Shropshire Star of the initiative. “We know the giant boobs will raise a few eyebrows, but we want to make sure no one overlooks the way this stigma has been used to repress women.”
You can find them up for the rest of the day at Old Street, Holywell Lane, Colombia Road, Brick Lane, and Huntington Estate in London.
We’ve smuggled four inflatable breasts onto rooftops in London this morning! How else do you think we’d celebrate UK Mother’s Day? But no, there’s a reason: Today we’ve launched #FreeTheFeed to help fight the stigma around breastfeeding and pumping in public. #FreetheFeed is an invitation to everyone to stand with all those women that have felt shamed or confined when breastfeeding or pumping. We want to empower mothers to feel safe and comfortable to feed how and where they choose to. Get involved by sharing your breastfeeding or pumping pic (old or new) with #FreeTheFeed! Or you can share this pic. Don’t forget to tag @elvie. Check out our stories for updates and see where we planted each boob! #womenempowerment #motherhoodunplugged #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeeding #breastfeedingmom #liquidgold #breastpump #elviepump #momlife #mumlife #mothersday #momtobe #mumtobe #womensupportingwomen #womenempoweringwomen
For some, the larger-than-life breasts may seem familiar — that's because this isn't their first time making a public appearance.
On Mother’s Day in 2017, creative agency Mother London first launched the #FreeTheFeed campaign with the same breasts in the same spots.
But with stigma against public breastfeeding still as strong two years later, the breasts are back with fresh endeavour — this time, the result of a collaboration between Mother London and Elvie.
Elvie and Mother London have worked together before — on a music video released in September that takes an irreverent look at the realities of breast pumping.
Just last month, a Danish MP was told she was "not welcome" in parliament when she attempted to breastfeed her baby at work. Stories like that echo around the world, as women who breastfeed their babies in public are often shamed, forcing them to feed their babies in bathrooms and other uncomfortable settings.
There’s a boob in shoreditch, what does this mean? pic.twitter.com/l3OiCWVLZ9— Fraser (@fraser_hawkshaw) March 31, 2019
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that babies are fed exclusively with breast milk until that age — that means no food, and no water. That can help newborns avoid infections while striking the right nutritional balance.
But the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. Just under a third of babies in Britain drink breast milk at 6-months-old, according to a report from UNICEF, in contrast to 62% in Sweden.
And the Guardian reports that, despite public advice, breastfeeding rates are decreasing. While not every mother is able to breastfeed, experts have pointed to changing social attitudes as a main cause of the decrease.
“Perhaps many men feel discomforted because they grow up to regard the breast as a sexual object,” said Neena Modi, a professor of Neonatal medicine at Imperial College London, in a 2017 Guardian interview. “In which case I suggest that they should put these attitudes well and truly behind them.”
Right now there's just a massive boob sat on a roof in Shoreditch to promote freedom to breastfeed in public pic.twitter.com/9lgK5BshXW— sophie (@sophxthompson) March 26, 2017