Humiliated Mom Kicked Out of Victoria’s Secret Store for Breastfeeding

Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump

Here’s something that won’t — at all — surprise you, but will definitely disappoint the pants off your Friday afternoon: A breastfeeding mom was denied the right to nurse in a Victoria’s Secret store in Texas recently. And, here’s the real treat: She was told to go into an alley. AN ALLEY. The eighth wonder of the world, you guys, with jaw-dropping garbage pyramids that you’ve just got to see and mythological cardboard box displays that look so mundane to the untrained eye. (Does my sarcasm feel like honey to you? Thick and unforgiving? Because it should.)

Ashley Clawson had just dropped a hearty helping of cash at the Victoria’s Secret counter ($150, if you’re counting) when she asked an employee if she could nurse her four-month-old son in the fitting room. The employee apparently 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.” [……..]

Lets rewind for a minute: Under Texas law, a mother, and I quote, “is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.” That means if mom’s boobs can grace the fitting room closets to try on sexy lingerie, then her boobs can grace those same fitting room closets to fulfill another role: feeding her baby.

When Ashley left the store, a little poorer in cash and faith in humanity, she called her husband, humiliated and mortified by what had just happened at store that lives to remind women that your boobs are awesome and should be clothed in only the finest overpriced linens and cups and underwires. She added, “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.” Another place there won’t be any going back to? That Victoria’s Secret.

Once home, Ashley posted on Facebook about the whole ordeal, sparking a combination of support and outrage like she’d never imagined. “Some of these people I’ve been getting friend requests from I have no clue who they are,” she said, “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.” After the bolstering of confidence from friends and complete strangers, she filed two complaints against the store.

To really bring the irony of the whole situation home, Ashley said, “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. I do think that Victoria’s Secret needs to train their employee’s better on the breastfeeding policy and know the laws on it.” Amen, sista. Amen. For a store that works so hard to normalize the femininity of feeling sexy, it does a terrible job of making a mother feel embraced for feeding her child.

After the incident hit the national theater, 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.”

Have you ever been asked to leave a store or public place for nursing?

Plus, more from The Bump:

Gisele Bundchen’s ‘Revealing’ Photo Shows the Beauty of Breastfeeding

Isn’t It Ironic? Connecticut Mom Kicked Out of Courtroom for Breastfeeding

New Hampshire Mama Fired for Leaving to Breastfeed: What Do You Think?