Last June, Jasmin wanted to feed her 5-month-old daughter in one of the galleries of the Louvre Museum. An employee asked her to stop, claiming that it "might disturb some of the visitors". She agreed to be one of the faces of our poster campaign for World Breastfeeding Week and agreed to be interviewed to tell us more about her story and what it has changed for her. By posing for this campaign, she reaffirms her right to breastfeed anywhere. Anytime.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Jasmin and I am 35 years old. I am French-American but from Bangladesh, the number one country for breastfeeding!
I grew up in New York, but I dreamed of moving to France one day. It took me a year to learn the language by watching YouTube and the series H, and a year to find a job, and in 2014 I took my one-way ticket to Roissy :)
Today I work in communications and I live in the suburbs of Paris with my husband and our daughter Lana.
Can you tell us what happened on June 2nd at the Louvre Museum?
One of my little sisters came to visit me in June and we followed the classic tourist itinerary (Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles, etc.)
At the time, Lana was 5 months old and needed to be fed almost every hour during the day because she slept well at night. I breastfed
her 3 times at the Louvre that day - the first two times with no problems (a Louvre employee looked at me kindly, and a woman was a little uncomfortable, but she didn't say anything).
The last time, around 5:00 pm, I found a nearly empty room with a bench to breastfeed on before I left the museum.
As soon as I started to feed Lana, the employee in the room came over to me and looked at Lana closely. He told me that was not permitted.
I was wearing a nursing top and you couldn't see anything! When I asked why, he explained that it might bother some visitors and
advised me to go to the bathroom. I replied that if it bothered the others so much, I could cover their eyes if necessary... I refused to go to the
bathroom of course and tried to nurse Lana... but she had sensed that I was not well. So we left and I fed her on a bench outside the museum.
How did you feel in this moment and what were the media repercussions that followed?
At the time, I was shocked because I said to myself, but this is France!
Culturally, I was lost, I didn't understand at all (Americans see the French as a very open people). I only understood afterwards
that the subject was controversial, when I saw the media fallout and the various comments on social media: so many people judged me,
telling me to pump my milk, not to bring a baby to the museum, to pay to breastfeed in the "very clean" toilets of
the Carrousel du Louvre... And my favorite comment: that I was trying to seduce men under the pretext of feeding them. I admit that
from that day on, when I'm breastfeeding outside, there's always a little voice in my head that says "is this bothering the people around here?".
You let us use you as the face of our campaign; why was it important for you to participate?
After I gave birth, I was suffering from postpartum depression, which was especially made worse by the loneliness
because my family is in the US. At first, I didn't go out with Lana at all because I was afraid to breastfeed in public. It was
a vicious circle. Little by little, with the help of other moms who breastfed (my friends, my older sister), I became more comfortable.
I realized that it was a real shame that I had deprived myself of a normal life because of the fear of other people's looks. My goal in
telling my story to the reporter in June was to make sure this doesn't happen to other moms. I wanted to participate in your campaign for the same reason: to give courage to other moms. But if the story of the Louvre had happened to me at the very beginning of my breastfeeding, I would certainly not have reacted in the same way and I would not have said anything!
What message would you like to send to...
To those who criticize and/or prevent breastfeeding in public places?
For moms and moms-to-be who want to breastfeed but are afraid to do so in public?
Don't think about others, think about the well-being of you and your baby. If you are afraid because you don't want to show too much skin (which was my case), wearing an adapted breastfeeding clothes helped a lot! (We can hear from here the most suspicious of those of you: no no no, this is not advertising in disguise! We didn't say anything).
And above all, breastfeed your baby as long as you want. I realized that there is a lot of judgment towards breastfeeding moms in France and I think it's really a shame. I have had several remarks, even from a doctor, because I am still breastfeeding my 9 month old baby! Surround yourself with people who support you and don't pay attention to others.
And finally, a final question: for you, breastfeeding is anywhere, anytime?