BARBERTON, Ohio — A mother’s breastfeeding photo has once again grabbed the attention of social media users.
Only this time, the young mother was photographed at a Bernie Sanders rally in Barberton, Ohio, feeding her daughter in the middle of the cheering crowd.
“While there, she got hungry like babies do,” Margaret Ellen Bradford said on Facebook. She added that she wasn’t aware that she was being photographed during the rally.
Since being photographed, the image of Bradford breastfeeding her daughter Harper has spread across the Internet, inspiring the hashtag #BoobsForBernie. New mothers from across the United States have been sharing photos of themselves breastfeeding their children.
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ campaign even highlighted the photo in a recent tweet, saying no woman should be stigmatized for breastfeeding in public.
But it hasn’t been all praise for Bradford. The mother has received “love mail,” but also hate mail because of the image.
“Honestly I’ve cried three times already from some of the hateful messages I’ve received, telling me my daughter should be taken or that I’m just an uneducated lowlife hick,” she wrote online. CNN has reached out to Bradford, but did not receive a response.
Public breastfeeding has been a divisive issue in recent years. In 2014, a mom in Beverly Hills claimed that she was escorted to a bathroom while shopping at a department store while breastfeeding. And in Beaverton, Oregon, a group of mothers staged a “nurse-in” at a restaurant to protest a breastfeeding mom who was asked to cover up.
One of the reasons why people are uneasy about breastfeeding in public is because of people’s perception of women being sexual objects, according to mommy blogger Raivon Lee.
“Women buy into that idea,” she told CNN’s Kelly Wallace. “If we use our breasts for anything other than ‘play’ it’s not OK.”
Although public opinion has varied in the past and some states have even instituted laws for where women are able to breastfeed, the reality is breastfeeding rates in the U.S. are rising, according to the 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, 79% of babies born in 2011 were breastfed. Southern states had lower rates of breastfeeding than the national average, coming in at 65%. But states like California, Oregon, Washington had breastfeeding rates above 90%.
Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend new mothers breastfeed their children for at least the first 12 months. However, only about 25% of infants were breastfeeding at 12 months.