Mexico City Campaign To Encourage Breast Feeding Comes Under Fire



A new campaign to boost the image of nursing mothers is coming under fire in Mexico City.  Some say the posters of topless toned actresses aren't sending the message women's groups and health advocates had hoped.

Regina Tames, of the reproductive rights group GIRE tells NPR, "We were very surprised once the campaign was launched."

She was taken aback by pictures of topless actresses and one of the female boxer known as "La Barbie." She was shirtless, too — although she did have on her boxing gloves.

The stars aren't totally bare: a strategically placed banner crosses their chests. Written on the banner is the campaign's slogan in Spanish: "Don't turn your back on them ... Give them your breast."

"It's not only a very terrible campaign in terms of how it looks, but it's also the message that if you don't breast-feed, you are a bad mother and you are the one to blame," Tames says.

According to NPR, breastfeeding rates in Mexico are among the lowest in Latin America.  Only 14 percent of women breast feed their children exclusively in the first six months.

There are many reasons why women aren't breast-feeding in Mexico, adds Tames. Poverty and poor nutrition top the list, but also more women than ever have entered the workforce. Hours are long, which makes breast-feeding during the day challenging, while pumping milk at work is not encouraged and in many cases prohibited.

Mexico City's health director declined several requests for interviews. He told local radio that now the campaign will focus on opening 92 lactation rooms throughout the city and two milk banks. And those pictures of the topless actresses are no longer on the city's website.

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