On Monday, Samantha McIntosh was sitting at a booth in the restaurant, breastfeeding her seven-month-old daughter, when a store manager approached her and asked her to “cover up.” It’s legal in all 50 states to breastfeed in public, so McIntosh wasn’t under an obligation to comply, but the self-described modest person felt embarrassed with the eyes of the restaurant upon her, especially since her nine-year-old niece was in tow.
“But as I sit there in this family friendly restaurant I start to simmer,” she wrote in a lengthy Facebook status.
“Why would someone ask me to cover up? Why would a baby eating in any way offend someone to the point where it takes a manager approaching me about the situation?! So I got mad.”
Another customer stuck up for McIntosh and called over another manager, who gave her a corporate phone number and went back behind the counter. The original manager then returned and, incredibly, scolded her again.
She “comes back TO ME to inform me that they have every right to ask me to cover up when I’m nursing my child and that I should just leave it at that.”
McIntosh left after that, struggling to explain to her niece what was happening. She was mad enough to post that note on Facebook, and enough local women saw it to throw together a nurse-in to protest the way she’d been treated in the restaurant.
Jessica Gaugush was one of the women who helped organize the event, held at the same location where McIntosh was harassed.
“This wasn’t just a problem with Chick-fil-A … If you read the story, truly I believe that the people around that had reported it in the first place are also part of the problem,” Gaugush told the Augusta Chronicle. “We need to normalize breastfeeding and make sure that people are as comfortable as possible with moms feeding their kids however they decide.”
The event was a success, with dozens of mothers and allies attending. The group is going back to Facebook to plan similar events in the area, all in an effort to destigmatize public breastfeeding.