Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Target Stores Target Nursing Moms...Again!

It looks like big-box retailer Target has once again targeted breastfeeding mothers for harassment. It was just two years ago that a Michigan Target forced a nursing mother to leave the store. They actually called the police on her, saying that what she was doing was illegal! However, following that incident, a Target spokesperson said the company policy was not anti-breastfeeding. Apparently that changed at some point!

Michelle nursing her baby (different day) at Target.
Just two weeks ago Michelle Hickman of Houston, Texas, was accosted by Target personnel as she fed her hungry baby. Here is Michelle's story in her own words:
 I'm not the best public speaker or the most educated or outspoken person in breastfeeding rights but I am a mom of 4 who has been harassed and humiliated by Target for nursing by infant in their store. On November 29th around 7-8pm, I was Christmas shopping with a basket full of items when my infant woke up hungry, so I found a remote area of the store in the ladies clothing department close to the fitting rooms and sat Indian style on the floor next to my basket and a display of jeans and nursed my hungry baby with a blanket completely covering him. Briefly I will say that 2 women employees came and verbally asked me to move. The 2nd one told me that Target employees had been told/trained to interrupt nursing and to redirect mothers to the fitting rooms. Even after I informed the 2nd employee of my legal right to nurse in public she still suggested me moving closer to the jean display, turning to face another direction, and also turn my basket a certain way which would have put me practically underneath the jean display and totally barricaded me in. Employee #2 even said in a hint around but threatening way you can get a ticket and be reported for indecent exposure when nothing was being exposed and there was more boob showing from low cut shirts several shoppers were wearing that night. This does not include the other 3-4 employees besides the 2 verbal ones who were all watching and making a spectacle of my nursing by walking by standing around pretending to do something and giving me mean looks and shaking their heads no back and forth. In a side note not a single non-employee customer ever saw the incident so I'm not sure why the employees were trying to act like I was offending "the public" and that it was their job to step in. 
After I left the store I decided to call the Target corporate office during normal business hours the following day on November 30th,  and speak to a guest relations person to notify them of the situation and to suggest that they educate their employees as to the legal right I have to nurse in public. The phone call however took a turn for the worse. The lady (I wish I would have gotten her name) told me that she and Target were aware of our legal rights as nursing mothers, but that Target has different policies because they are a family friendly public place. I can't think of a more family friendly act than breastfeeding and providing the irrefutably proven healthiest diet to my baby. She continued to inform me repetitively that Target's policies were different than the law and even went as far to say several times that just because it is a woman's right to nurse in public even without a nursing cover like I was using doesn't mean women should walk around and I quote "flaunting it" and was extremely rude. I also talked to the supervisor of this rude lady and that didn't get anywhere either.
It saddens me that mothers are being treated this way as if breastfeeding is vile and offensive. If this would have happened to me with the first child I nursed I would have considered giving up on nursing due to embarrassment and that is what concerns me the most. I know that breastmilk is best and that nursing is hard work and a selfless act that mothers choose to do for their babies, and I would hate for this to happen to someone else causing them to give up on nursing. Please help me support the best nutrition for babies and to make a stand in support of nursing in public so this doesn't happen again.


In this country we have some powerful ways to effect change when it is needed. That's exactly what Michelle and some of her friends are doing. They've organized an international Target Nurse-In  for Wednesday, December 28 at 10:00 am. I would love to see our local moms get involved. We have two Target stores in Huntsville that our moms can target! I know this is the second time in two weeks I've blogged about nursing in public, but no mother should ever feel discriminated against for the way she feeds her baby!

Basics by Bravado...Looks like a Body-Silk knock-off.
Last year Target entered into an exclusive relationship with Bravado Designs (now a subsidiary of Medela). Bravado is manufacturing a less-expensive line of bras and tanks for Target. The way Bravado explained it to us retailers was that this allowed women who can't afford Bravado bras to get a good bra for less money. They said that the tanks aren't the same quality as the tanks we sell, and the knock-off of the Body Silk is just that...a knock-off. Then they added that their hope was to expose women to the Bravado name in hopes that they'd look for the "real thing."     Really??

I'm sure I'm not the only Bravado retailer who was a little miffed that they wouldn't give us access to these new products. I'd love to be able to offer a less expensive Bravado option to our moms! We focus a lot of our energy on helping low-income moms!

I decided to call the Target Corporate Customer Service line (800) 440-0680  this morning.  I explained that as a lactation consultant I do sometimes tell mothers about the Bravado bras at Target, and I was concerned about my clients being made to feel uncomfortable if they needed to nurse. I was put on hold, then the representative came back on the line and said, "Guests who choose to nurse in our stores are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable." She added that they may nurse anywhere in the store they wish, and if they choose to use a dressing room, they may do so without being made to feel rushed.

So let's see what happens on December 28! Leave a comment telling which Target you'll be nursing at. I would suggest that if Target is rude in any way whatsoever to any nursing mother, we begin a boycott of all breastfeeding-related products. They sell a lot of Medela products in addition to their Bravado line. I really hope that Targets all over the country make nursing mothers feel comfortable. After all, it's their bottom line that's at stake!

28 comments:

  1. I don't live in your area, but I do feel inspired to test my local stores and see how they respond to breastfeeding mothers

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  2. Wow, as much as I love Target this makes me sad. What is wrong with some people and companies?! I would love to participate in the nurse in here in wisconsin! I posted about it ON Targets facebook page:) Asking who would be there...it'll be interesing to see if Target responds.

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  3. I breastfed my son at the local Target, without a nursing cover, may I add, and no one ever said anything to me, nor looked at me twice. It hurts my heart to hear what this poor mother went through. By all means, if Target continues these actions against nursing mothers then I think we should all boycott their establishment.

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  5. I unfortunately don't have any Targets near me. I will be there in spirit though!

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  6. Yet another reason I don't shop at Target. And it was women that treated her that way??! Unbelievable!

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  7. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY SICK!! THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS WRONG WITH TARGETS RULES ALREADY AND NOW I'M FINDING OUT THEY THINK THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! THATS RICH. I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY THINK THAT THEY DISRUPTED A MOTHER AND CHILD WHILE FEEDING WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SWEET AND SERENE EXPERIENCE AND THREATEN TO CALL THE POLICE AND THROW THEM OUT. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO CALL THE POLICE FOR ME NURTURING MY CHILD SICKOS?? THIS DOES NOT SEEM TO BE A FAMILY ORIENTED PLACE, BUT A PLACE OF DISCRIMINTAION. THEY DISCRIMINATE AGAINST A LOT OF THINGS APPARENTLY. THEIR SORRY BEHINDS WILL HAVE TO ANSWER FOR THEMSELVES ONEDAY. . . IM SORRY THIS WHOLE SITUATION IS JUST ABSOLUTELY DISTURBING. IF SHE DIDN'T CHOOSE TO BREASTFEED THE BABY AND SHE JUST LET IT CRY. . .THEYD PROBABLY ASK HER TO LEAVE THE STORE TOO, HUH? YOU GUYS NEED TO GET OVER YOURSELVES FAMILY ORIENTED STORE. . .BECAUSE IVE READ ABOUT CASES WHERE YOUVE ASKED MOMS TO LEAVE THE STORE BECAUSE OF CRYING KIDS. SO LET US HAVE THE OPTION TO FEED THEM TO PREVENT CRYING. THEY ARE OUR RIGHTS AND YOU ARENT GOING TO HAVE A WHOLE LOT OF CUSTOMERS WITHOUT THE MOMS BUYING MOST OF YOUR SUPPLY.

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  8. Just discovered another incident where a mother was harassed. This time it was in a Washington, DC Courtroom. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/simone-dos-santos_n_1148455.html?1323885588&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing7%7Cdl24%7Csec1_lnk2%7C120052.

    This has got to stop!

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  9. Shame on them!

    I breastfeed in our local Target all the time. I've never had anyone say anything, but breastfeeding is all the rage in Portland, OR. Could this be a regional issue?

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  10. I just BF in target while I was waiting in the checkout line. I was nursing my 11 month old, who was cranky from teething.

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  11. On and I hope to be in my target on December 28, Davenport, Iowa

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  12. i nursed in the indoor garden dept at target before...on a patio set chair. very comfy. i had no issues.
    its too bad the mom had this experience!! it is totally unacceptable.

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  13. I often go and sit on the furniture display @ Target to nurse my toddler. No one's ever said a word. The most people have done is smile.

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  14. This makes me sad. Target is one of the ONLY places to buy breastfeeding items in my town and I hate that anyone would so this to a nursing mother. I will most likely be testing my local Target (in Kearney, NE) on this day to see what happens!

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  15. I will be nursing in the Target store in Jacksonville, NC! I've done it sitting in the food court area tons of times and never had any issues though.

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  16. My husband works at Target and he told me when I told him about this that, they are told not to say anything to nursing mothers. That it is a big no-no to say anything to them. If a mother asks if there is a place to nurse then they are to tell them that there is a place next to the dressing room that they can nurse privately.
    It is sad that this had to happen. I would go nurse my 4 month old at our Target on the 28th if I could, good luck to all those that will be!

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  17. I don't visit Target a lot, but you bet I'll be there Dec 28 with my daughter! For a store in Texas (where there are laws saying nursing is a RIGHT) to treat a mom so poorly and not think there won't be consequences is humorous to me! My daughter and I will be in our Michigan (where nursing is not a right, but is protected from indecency laws) store in support! :)

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  18. Well I believe people should be able to feel their child when they are hungry...what is wrong with doing it privately? I agree the woman wasnt treated fairly by the employees but why couldn't she use the dressing room instead of just in the middle of the store?

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  19. My nursing experiences at Target have always been uneventful. I've nursed on the floor, in the toy department and even once with my toddler in the shopping cart as I pushed it and kept shopping. I pretty much shop exclusively at Target and thankfully have never had an ignorant employee try to stop me.
    I am shocked and saddened to read that customer service just made the situation worse.

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  20. Whatevermom, next time someone wants to bottle feed their child do you expect then to go hide somewhere? Its feeding a child, it is not indecent in any way so sheer can feed her child where ever she chooses. I don't like to watch sloppy people eat so I guess they should be asked to sit behind a curtain too. If sheer wants to walk around topless while nursing that is her right period! Maybe the dressing room was busy or dirty or smelly.

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  21. I've nursed in the Decatur Target a few times and never received any negative feedback. It's a shame so many people can't live and let live, as it were. I think nurse-ins are a great way to show the public that breastfeeding is normal and should be acceptable any time, anywhere.

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  22. I nursed on the bench next to the pharmacy at a Target once with no issues but this incident makes me so frustrated. I'd like to participate in the nurse-in but that's also the day of our 20 week ultrasound for baby #2 so we'll see.

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  23. Don't live in your area or even your state but will at my local target nursing I can tell you that!

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  24. Anyone near Alpharetta/Atlanta GA? I would love to be a part of the nurse in!

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  25. I'm gonna go to Tucson target:) let them try kicking me out of the store

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  26. Let me know if any are going on in the North GA area!

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  27. Those of you looking for a Nurse-in can go to the link in the article above, and it will take you to the Facebook page where all the nurse-ins are being planned!

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  28. http://signon.org/sign/official-petition-for

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