College Moms Graduation Photos: A Tale Of Two Breasts (IMAGES)

Two graduating moms posted pictures to social media breastfeeding in their caps and gowns. The resulting media storms took on two very different personalities.

Jacci Sharkey, who graduated from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, took time out to breastfeed her son Alec and posted the picture to her Facebook page:

My main message was to show to other mums that were thinking of studying that it can be done and to just go for it. To me the picture represents mums being able to have it all, a career and a family. They dont have to give up the career for kids, and dont have to give up kids for the career. As mothers we can have it all.

The press agreed that Sharkeys story was inspirational, and reported it with headlines like these:

  • Internet Cheers For Photo Of Mom Breastfeeding At Graduation The Huffington Post
  • A Mum Graduating From College Said Thank You With A Breastfeeding Photo
  • Breastfeeding Mom Graduation Photo Goes Viral Yahoo News
  • Photo of breastfeeding mum in graduation gown receives stunning response

The articles above, along with many more, focused on the positive aspects of Jaccis triumph both at school and as a mother. Her accomplishments in both areas are truly inspirational and deserve every bit of the applause shes received.

Jacci Sharkey's beautiful and inspirational photo went viral, garnering praise all over the internet - USC/Facebook

Jacci Sharkeys beautiful and inspirational photo went viral, garnering praise all over the internet USC/Facebook

A black womans photo depicting the same natural act of breastfeeding didnt go over so well.

Enter Karlesha Thurman, graduating from California State University. She also had a hungry child, and also decided to take the time to feed her. When a friend snapped a photo because he thought it was cool, Karlesha thought nothing of it. She posted the photo to the Facebook page Black women DO breastfeed, and the story was picked up by People where Thurman is quoted as saying:

I did it to show its natural, its normal, theres nothing wrong with it.I honestly thought that as a society, people were more understanding to breastfeeding and understood the importance of breastfeeding. Its not disgusting, its not a bad thing, its not a negative thing. Its the best thing for my daughter. More people should do it.

Karlesha Thomas breastfeeds her daughter Aaliyah during her graduation FromCSU Long Beach - Facebook

Karlesha Thomas breastfeeds her daughter Aaliyah during her graduation From CSU Long Beach Facebook

After the People story, the headlines werent as innocuous or inspirational:

  • Breast-feeding moms college graduation photo stirs controversy Today Parents
  • Mom who posted image of her breastfeeding daughter at college graduation defends herself after backlash
  • SoCal Moms Breastfeeding Graduation Picture Ignites Internet Firestorm

The comments on articles about Sharkey, with the exception of a few, were overwhelmingly positive, prompting her to send out thank you messages. Theres even a Facebook Page dedicated to her photo.

Thurman, on the other hand, found herself defending her actions and doing interviews explaining herself, as if a nursing mother has any need to do such a thing.

Not to point out the obvious or anything, but can anyone tell what the difference is between these two women? Why is one applauded and told she is beautiful and inspirational while the other is scolded and told to put that thing away?

Is it because Australians are more tolerant to breastfeeding? Could it be that the internet, which knows no borders, has decided that nursing in the northern hemisphere should for some reason be done in private? Perhaps its more disgusting to drag your infant into a public bathroom to eat if the water spins counter-clockwise.

Or maybe theres something else. If only it were blatantly obvious.

If only Karlesha Thurman were Alyssa Milano or Kiera Knightly.

Allyssa Milano got the praise she deserves for being a working mom who breastfed when she posted this picture to Instagram. No outrage, no controversy, and certainly nobody telling her to put that thing away. Kiera Knightly, on the other hand, was recently depicted topless in an article against the photoshopping of women. So far the praise is heavy for such feminism, and no child was breastfed.

Who knew breasts could be so diverse.

Images: Facebook

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  • mikebank

    The bigots are still ruling America .

  • soapy1

    I went through a backlash 40 years ago for breastfeeding my son in the very back of a restaurant, with my back to the middle of the space, only one other table was in use AND my breast was completely covered. WTH is wrong with people making an issue of this. It is normal. Natural. Nourishment. Get over it. (and the obvious racism leveled at Karlesha is ridiculous in this day and age. Get with the program. It is nearly 2015.

  • Keyser Soze

    Western Feminism is inherently white-centric and routinely ignores the oppression of actual minority women in order to focus exclusively on White People Problems

    • bintalshamsa

      Yep. And look at the vintage white whines that pop up whenever this is mentioned. Well, it will be to their detriment. Women of color have thousands of years of gender equality in our cultures. When we shed white people and their problems, we can return to that. If white women want to keep their white privilege, theyre forced to keep the patriarchy that goes along with it.

      • Lori Morgan

        The only one who seems racist is you…

        • bintalshamsa

          *Yawn* Nice try, cracker. I remain nonplussed in the face of your inability to address your privilege. Obviously, you dont even understand how racism works and youre absolutely typical in your assumptions about WOC identities. Educate yourself before attempting to converse with me. It would help you…A LOT.

          • Lori Morgan

            I am working on my graduate degree in nursing. .
            I am educated. .your endless rhetoric and name calling proves my point.
            zzzzzzz…your thick head bores me.

          • bintalshamsa

            Your graduate degree in nursing isnt enough to make you educated on the issue of race. Its not my fault youre lacking in this area. Your blinding whiteness amuses me.

          • Lori Morgan

            Your rhetoric bores me, get over it. Make your life better & stop blaming white people. Were sick of it…

      • uncut lady bits

        Im sorry to say..I feel Youre only deviding women more. Siding with a the mra movement is like saying you think raping women of any color is acceptable..and that men in your opinion are horribly opressed by women*please read up on these people*…all I have to say is you must live in a alternate universe than I do…in my universe feminist should totally recognize obvious cultural issues such as white privilege… i personaly want feminists of color to be included by the movement…its so important! I realise it because I live in texas..I was part of only 34% of white women who voted for wendy davis. 94% of woc voted for wendy. I am totally ashamed of fellow white women and texas in general…I cant even…begin…to express how many ways this makes me feel…on the top of the list is angry. What is wrong with people?

        • bintalshamsa

          Youre the one who has decided that what WOC have been saying for centuries is actually the MRA movement. If you want WOC to be included by your movement, it means you have to actually LISTEN TO WHAT WE HAVE TO SAY. Its not us who divide women. It is the white colonialist feminists who refuse to check their privilege. It is the racism that they continue to perpetrate against us that divides us. Saying what feminism SHOULD do doesnt address what it ACTUALLY does. If you want to know whats wrong with people, start with the settler colonialism that you engage in.

  • Keyser Soze

    For example, the 10 Hours of Walking in NYC video that might as well have been directed by the KKKs AV club, edited out all the white men, and deliberately sought to evoke white peoples fears of Scary Black Men coming to steal all the White Women. Which of course White Liberal Feminists ate up.

    • uncut lady bits

      Not all feminists even know what youre talking about. Ive never seen this video you speak of. You just seem like another mra who seeks to demonize feminism. Ignorance toward race and other cultural issues such as forced genital cutting is not limited to one group such feminists. Its a much broader problem than that.

      • bintalshamsa

        Im a woman of color and I agree with Keyser Sozes comment. Feminism doesnt need anyone to demonize it. It does a good job all by itself, especially the white dominated version that is prevalent in the Western world. Its why women of color do not tend to want anything to do with white feminists. It reeks of white privilege, class privilege, and settler privilege and it has been this way since it became a movement. White feminists have largely ignored these issues raised by women of color and, therefore, continue to contribute to our marginalization and oppression.

        Like many others, I choose to opt out of feminism and stick with our Indigenous systems which included gender equality and were prevalent in this country until white people, white women included, came here and destroyed it wherever it could be found. Their best bet is to listen and learn about where theyre going wrong and follow our lead or else they can continue on their current trajectory and go extinct right alongside their white men who have helped them dominate people of color for over five hundred years.

        • Foamy Darkale

          believe me when I say that having people encouraged to be bigoted and sexist to you for your gender or skin color isnt a privilege. Look into the history of the suffragettes movement and youll find they tried to tack themselves on to the WOC voting movement and then twist it all around so that only women holding property could vote. ie: those that had money.

      • Natasha J. Carrasco Stillman

        Yah. Im a woman of color also. And, Im a feminist. To me, its quite simple. Feminism = Equality. We dont have it yet, therefore we have to educate people so we can get it. There are no boundaries. It crosses color. It crosses creed. It crosses cultures. It crosses currency. If we dont all freakin get together and quit fighting each other. AS WOMEN. On the basis of any of these four things. Well get nowhere fast. Because, AS WOMEN. United. We can do anything. Thats what people are afraid of.

        • bintalshamsa

          Unfortunately, feminism doesnt equal equality. Feminism has, from its very beginning, capitalized on racism. Look at the suffragists and the racist tactics they used. Look at the way that these feminists had and have no problem exercising their settler privilege to dominate Indigenous women. We dont need to get together. We were fine before whiteness showed up on our shores. We already had gender equality. Im not afraid of uniting with white colonial feminists. I simply dont want anything to do with it. It has a legacy and pattern that marginalizes and oppresses entire classes of people and I choose not to participate in helping those who stand on my neck.

    • Maille K Yarwood

      I have to whatever this a little bit. The video didnt evoke any kind of apprehension toward one ethnicity versus another. Also, the woman in that video wasnt the WASPY woman youre obviously referencing.

      • bintalshamsa

        Actually, it did. Women of color wrote about this extensively. Of course, white colonial feminists ignore that and continue on their merry little way, assuming that what doesnt bother them doesnt bother or affect women of color. If youre going to whatever these things, youre going to continue to see men whatever your complaints and you wont have any allies to turn to. Youve already alienated most women of color in the Western world.

  • Johnny 5

    Yes, it is nourishment. But you dont have to do it during commencement ceremonies. Either way. I get. You made the life choice to have a child. It has consequences. Deal with it.

    • JustPaula

      Consequences? I am genuinely interested in hearing you elaborate. You make it sound like a punishment, feeding your child, or something a mother must suffer miserably through for something she has done wrong. After all, isnt that what consequences means? So please do elaborate on why feeding your hungry child as you celebrate an honorable achievement is something akin to a punishment or something to be suffered through or feel guilty about. Honestly, curious.

    • frumpus

      You are clearly the dumbest person on the planet. And she has every right to do it where ever she pleases. If you are offended by the sight of breast feeding then you are nothing but a pathetic sack of dog excrement.

  • Alan Batterman

    Yet, about half a century ago, it was all right to show Black African womens breasts in National Geographic, which was considered a magazine for all ages. While White womens breasts were only shown in mens magazines like Playboy, which were adults only.

    • bintalshamsa

      This is easily explained. Women of color were treated as less than human. Showing their/our breasts was like showing the udders on a cow or the nipples on a cat. However, white women were valued and valuable. Showing them would be scandalous, because their humanity wasnt doubted. They were considered more deserving of protection and dignity than those who were simply women of color, especially Black African women of color. Also, the treatment of Indigenous women was quite similar to that of Black African women.

  • Kelly Woodford

    What I find interesting, beyond the racism angle, is why should breastfeeding mothers be praised? Isnt that natural? A biological function? Are we supposed to applaud when men go to the urinal? I have no issue with women breastfeeding in public but this culture thats springing up that women who do so should be praised is peculiar. Or is it that women who dont breastfeed are substandard and should be ridiculed and shunned? Maybe we should look at the message here.

    • FuzzyBunnyFeet

      And here I thought the article was about the inexplicable difference in the way the two women were treated in social and main stream media.

      • Kelly Woodford

        Who put you in charge of the thread?

    • frumpus

      We should praise them because all of the dbag conservatives who want to Talibanize America keep shaming breast feeding mothers. Maybe you should re-examine yourself, because you are clearly confused on whats going on with this topic. Breastfeeding mothers are the ones being ridiculed by the worst of society and that is a trend we need to stop.

  • exfl

    I doubt that it is entirely a matter of race. Yes, many Americans are racists, but many are also prudish and many more are foolish. Whatever sentiment hits the media first will be parroted by this last group of sheeple.

  • Andy Morgan

    The difference is that Thurman was smiling in her photo, which suggests she was enjoying it. Wait a minute…….

    Or maybe it comes down to simple-minded, dyed in the wool racial idiocy. My votes on the idiocy.

  • Centerfold Skye

    Read the comments on lots of different web sites. YouTube, Facebook and Yahoo News to name a few. The bold Internet bravado of the millions of racist in America is off the charts.

  • Kim Serrahn

    Golly gee whiz…………. I thought all the Dr.s and medical pros all say that breastfeeding is best for baby and mommy. Oh wait it is but not here in the good old US of A were intolerance is taught. Maybe all the really negative comments come from men (and some women) who are jealous. Get off you high horses and remember that maybe your mommy fed you this way too.

  • Ellis8118

    Great article! We need more of these to prove to these willfully ignorant idiots that racism is alive and well in this country and throughout the world.

  • Araceli

    The only difference I see in both photos is that one is in a studio, so its semi-private, where the other is outside in front of fellow classmates, not to mentions family and friends sitting in the stands. I hope that is the only reason why someone would favor one over the other. I myself think that breastfeeding is the best way to go, I breast fed both my children.

  • Tina Richards

    Women that share these intimate bonding moments b/w them and their babies w/ strangers all over the of the world, are just seeking self gratification…its simply voyeurism.

    • warriorgoddess

      You are insane. Do you consider piling french fries into your gob an intimate moment? No? Then stop equating feeding a baby with intimate moments. Breasts are for feeding babies. It is only uptight prigs like you and perverts that sexualize them.

  • John Ware

    Could this be A Tale Of Two Titties? Im sorry, I couldnt help that. I couldnt just Nip it in the bud. Thank you. This article keeps me Abreast of the situation.

    • warriorgoddess

      Stop being a boob.

  • Hugh Gaanus

    Skip your meds today did you!

  • Lori Morgan

    The only racism Ive seen is from close minded, so called christian republicans. .
    So glad you brought politics into it.

    • bintalshamsa

      Then youre simply ignoring whats going on around you. As a WOC, I see it from both liberals and conservatives, Democrats, Libertarians, and Republicans. White liberals like to believe that they dont participate in racism. They want WOC to believe that they actually have our best interests in mind even as they stand on our necks. This has always been political. However, its not just a problem of so called christian republicans. Its ALL OF YOU that choose to prop up this system of government that has been racist from its very beginning.

      • Foamy Darkale

        the only glaring thing I see, is one seems to be inside a room. (there could be people there might not be..) And the other is in a crowd. Thats the only thing I would see as an actual difference. But you know Im weird like that cause I try looking at both sides of an argument.

      • CognizantImpiety

        Why, you are right of course. Here Ive been trying to relate to people of color but now that Ive read your missive, Ive decided that Im really a racist supporter of a fascist government and now I can hate you with all of my might.

        Except that I dont hate you or anyone that is different than I. Nor do I support our government any time they decide to be racist or fascist.

        Sorry I dont seem to fit your paradigm.

        Have a nice day.

  • Natasha J. Carrasco Stillman

    wait, what, Curious? i am advocating feminism. absolutely and…i think my comment ended the wrong place. i am not agreeing with either keyser or bintalshamsa. that was supposed to come somewhere else. gah. also, @bintalshamsa: if youre not helping your fellow women cause theyre a different color than you, then…uh. white colonial feminists? if i thought that way (and i could still, being of Indian decent), then id be carrying a hell of a grudge which wouldnt help anyone. let alone any of the women around me who do need our help.

  • Kelly Woodford

    Yes and no. Its a biological function. Doing it doesnt make you better than someone who doesnt. And I clearly said I had no problem with women breastfeeding in public, merely with this mentality that they deserve some sort of credit for doing so.

Comments are closed.