Breastfeeding protest held at Target stores

December 28, 2011 10:52:24 AM PST
A battle over breastfeeding -- a mother who claims she was bullied by employees at a local Target rallies other mothers to fight back. A Friendswood mother says she was bullied and made to feel ashamed for feeding her child while shopping.

Michelle Hickman claims she was trying to be discreet, but she says store employees harassed her and stared at her. So now she's doing something about it.

More than 50 moms showed up to the Super Target on Bay Area Boulevard in Webster with babies in tow on Wednesday morning, all of them ready to breastfeed inside the store. It's part of a nationwide movement these moms have called for in response to what they call bullying of Hickman.

Michelle Hickman is the Friendswood mother at the center of the Target breastfeeding controversy. She says she was breastfeeding her child inside the store last month when she says she was approached by several Target employees and asked to move from a secluded area of the store to the fitting rooms to breastfeed.

Hickman says when she refused, she was even told she could be cited for indecent exposure. She was outraged by the store's response and says when she didn't get a better answer from Target's corporate office, she called for backup from other mothers, turning to social media to organize the multi-state nurse-in protest.

Hickman says moms should never have to go to fitting rooms or bathrooms, but should be allowed to nurse in public.

"I definitely am not going to go nurse my baby in a bathroom," Hickman said. "Would you want to eat your lunch in a bathroom, sitting on a toilet in your mom's lap? No. It's not about me, it's not about Target. It's not about that. It's about women, everywhere, all over the world that this is having an effect upon on a daily basis, and them standing up for their rights."

Target has released the following statement:

    "As a family-oriented retailer, Target has a long-standing corporate policy that supports breastfeeding in our stores. We continually educate our team members in stores across the country on store policies to ensure all guests have a great experience. We worked with this guest directly to address her concerns and are sorry any inconvenience it has caused. Target is proud to support all mothers who breastfeed year-round, including today."

Hickman says she has not received a formal apology from Target. She says she hopes this protest will help raise awareness.

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