Victoria’s Secret: Go Breastfeed in the Alley

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Yet again, a breastfeeding mother has been discriminated against, but this time in the incident happened inside a Victoria’s Secret in Texas.
Of course it’s fine to show your breasts…just not if there is a baby attached to it!
This brought of memories of my own experience when my local BIG Latch On group was asked to leave our local mall for breastfeeding. We were sitting quietly in the play area when a security guard told us that we had to leave. When we informed him that we were protected by law to feed our babies anywhere we need to, he argued that because we were on private property, the law didn’t apply.
Anyway, just yards away were Victoria’s Secret posters that exposed MUCH more skin than any of us! One mom in our group was even using a cover!
The Mall at Barnes Crossing repeatedly apologized, and Victoria’s Secret issued a statement apologizing to the mother, but this brings up the serious issue that businesses need to inform their employees of the law protecting breastfeeding mothers BEFORE things like this happens!

The news story from Fox 7 in Austin, TX states this:

A mother shopping at the Victoria’s Secret store at the Domain says she was denied the right to breastfeed. Instead, she was told to go to an alley.

Under Texas law, “a mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.”

But that wasn’t the case for one mother who came to us in disbelief. Now she’s hoping other women don’t have to go through what she had to.

Ashley Clawson had just finished spending $150 at Victoria’s Secret. But she left with more than she bargained for.

“I was humiliated by the whole thing, I immediately called my husband,” Clawson said.

On Monday afternoon she asked an employee behind the counter if she could nurse her 4-month-old son in the fitting room. It was the response she got that came as a shock.

“Said no, you cannot nurse your son in our fitting room but you can go outside to the alley and nurse him there, no one usually goes there,” Clawson said.

After clarifying with the employee what was said, she knew it was no misunderstanding.

“I don’t even know what alley she was talking about. I didn’t explore it because my son. Obviously if you’ve been around a baby… once they start crying there is no going back,” Clawson said.

Once she got home, she posted what had happened on Facebook, getting more support than she could have ever imagined.

“Some of these people I’ve been getting friend requests from I have no clue who they are and people who have shared it on their page, their friends have shared it, and they’ve tagged certain groups that I never even knew existed,” Clawson said.

She filed two complaints before being told she would be receiving something in the mail. Clawson now has a different perspective on the company.

“The posters and everything are just women showing their breasts and obviously to Victoria’s Secret in my eyes, it’s looked at as a play toy. Not necessarily, means for you know nursing your child, which is why we have breasts to begin with,” Clawson said.

She is hoping this situation can be used as an example for change.

“I do think that Victoria’s Secret needs to train their employee’s better on the breastfeeding policy and know the laws on it,” Clawson said.

Victoria’s Secret issued the following statement:

“We take this issue very seriously. We have a longstanding policy permitting mothers to nurse their children in our stores and we are sorry that it was not followed in this case. We have apologized to Ms. Clawson, and we are taking actions to ensure all associates understand our policy that welcomes mothers to breastfeed in our stores.”

I have tried to contact Mrs. Clawson & will update when I get a chance to speak with her.

In the meantime, I encourage you to call or email Victoria’s Secret and let them know the importance of informing all of their employees of the laws protecting breastfeeding mothers. All it takes is a simple note on a bulletin board or by the time clock, people! Get it together, businesses!

The contact page for Victoria’s Secret is here.

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About Latch The Babes

I am a crunchy mama of four children who is passionate about providing research based breastfeeding education. I live in Mississippi with my husband, Brian, my three sons, Gabe, Justin, & Bryson, and my daughter, Kynli, who I often refer to as "Miss Ma'am". I breastfed all of my boys and Miss Ma'am is still going strong! I worked as a lactation specialist with WIC for a few years and am currently working on my IBCLC requirements. I have been involved with La Leche League since my oldest son was born in 1997.

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