If you’re hungry next Saturday (September 8th) you might consider going to Hooters for lunch. But first drive by Applebees and honk your horn in support of the national nurse-out/nurse-in or better yet make a witty sign and go stand up for a baby’s right to eat. That’s right, you read it correctly, I am endorsing Hooters as a family-friendly restaurant. A few months back in Kentucky a woman left an Applebees crying (and without her meal) to nurse her baby in the car. Despite the fact that she chose a booth in the back of the restaurant so she could nurse her baby while waiting for her own meal, she was asked to cover up. With no blanket handy they told her she’d have to cover or leave.
Even though KY has a law that states a woman has the right to feed her child anywhere she’s allowed to be, the manager said the comfort of his customers was his priority. Wow, I didn’t know you can break a law on account of people finding it uncomfortable or offensive. When my kids are crying in the back seat next time, I’ll just race through that school zone so I can get home faster. My comfort is a top priority and apparently that’s how the restaurant manager sees it too. The law mentions nothing about a woman having to cover up. And let’s get real here, most babies hate being covered. I lose my appetite too in hot humid environments, like say under blankets. And if you’re a complete bigot about to comment on my blog (first thanks, I love comments of all kinds) and suggest she go to a bathroom to nurse, try eating your plate of hot wings sitting on the john. I won’t complain if you use the fold down changing table.
Breastmilk is amazing because the taste changes depending on what a woman eats. So often even a newborn can get a whiff of a deep fried appetizer and say “waaaah”, meaning “I’m hungry please feed me,” even though Precious has never tried the boneless burritos or beer battered cheese nibblets before.
The multi-franchise owner (Thomas and King) had their lawyer send a letter stating that the company is considering having blankets handy to give out to women, who don’t have them, to avoid this situation. That’s really pretty gross, who’s going to clean those blankets? And with what sort of detergent? What if little Tommy is allergic to Tide?
Why doesn’t she just pump a bottle you ask? Well, pumps are expensive, are they going to hand those out too? And sometimes women can’t pump. It can be a lot more painful than a soft baby mouth. Then we’re back to the comfort issue. What if little darling won’t take a bottle? It happens, especially if they smell mama around. OR what if mama can’t pump the same quantity that the nursling can extract?
Honestly, the only time I’d consider going to Applebees would be to protest. Before today it would have been to protest the taking of frozen crap food and deep frying it and charging people $10 a plate.
I did a little experiment of my own last night. I thought of a pretty conservative place, Lubbock, TX and called up the fancy new Hooters off of Loop 289 and Slide Road. Sure, it’s possible that people nurse their children in Lubbock, but I’ve never seen it firsthand and I lived in the area for 19 years.
“Thank you for calling Hooters Lubbock blah blah blah.”
Me: “Hi, I was just curious to know if you guys have a breastfeeding policy?”
Super nice girl on the other end: “Uhhhh I’ll have to check on that.” Hold music (“I’ve got hooters on my mind la la la la la”) Perfect!
A different woman, Lexi, is given my call and explains to me that she’s from the home office. She tells me that there’s no policy on breastfeeding. “You’ll probably cover up that little head right,” she asks.
Me: “Well she’s 5 months old and doesn’t like to be covered but it’s not like I’m going to take out my boob and show everyone around me before I feed her.”
Her (in a much more personable tone): “You know what, you do what your family feels is right, use your discretion, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
So then I call up Applebees in Austin (where we live). I purposefully pick the closest location to Central Austin where the dirty hippie mamas often do these “bizarre feeding acts”.
“Thank you for calling Applebees yadda yadda yadda” says unassuming young man.
Me: “Hi, do you have a policy on breastfeeding at your restaurant?”
Him: “I’m sorry?”
Me: “If I come to eat there with my family, can I breastfeed my baby?”
Him: “If you cover up with a blanket then there shouldn’t be a problem, but there’s no policy I know of.”
Me: “OK thanks.”
So while the responses aren’t “you go girlfriend, good for you that you are providing the food nature (if you’re in Lubbock, God) intended,” I was surprised to learn that Hooters in a very conservative town came out the winner over Applebees in much more progressive Austin.
Also Lexi scored a few extra points for Hooters when she used the word “family”. Because this isn’t about me having the right to nurse, it’s about my baby having the right to eat. Breastfeeding awareness and acceptance isn’t a woman’s issue, it’s a family issue. We humans didn’t secure a place in the Mammal category because of formula. Plus Applebees gets a big point deduction for giving a toddler a sippy cup full of MARGARITA in June, even if it was an accident. After throwing up and a sleepy trip to the hospital, the little guy bounced back from the tequila tango. Top shelf tequila for a toddler on June 14th, OOPS. Breastfeeding a baby uncovered on June 15th, NOT ACCEPTABLE. Gotcha.
So Hooters in Lubbock, ironically I will be in your area this weekend. If I can convince Nana and Granddad to eat with me and my girls at your location, I might just buy a t-shirt after my meal. Does Hooters sell nursing tops?