Thursday, September 6, 2007

More on Applebees

There are some more articles that I felt were worth sharing.
Breast-feeding protest at Lexington Applebee's goes national
National nurse in-you in?
Ky. breastfeeding protest to go national

The Hazleton, PA General Manager was apparently rude and just redirected our contact person to the owner of Applebees. The owner was nice enough to inform us that Applebees has a friendly breastfeeding policy that ALL of their stores are made aware of. Obviously not though. Corporate had issued Ms. Ryan's attorney a letter reinforcing the blanket policy so clearly corporate isn't in on this breastfeeding friendly policy. Not to mention, this incident happened to another woman a few days ago. We also have seen statements from various Applebee's locations in which they state that a woman MUST cover up because "after all, this is a family place". It seems that the stores are taking it upon themselves to create their own policy regardless of what the owner claims that she has in place. When our contact person informed the owner of the KY incident and about what the Hazleton store had told her, the owner quickly shut up. I guess she didn't know what to say at that point- or maybe she was just savoring the flavor of her foot that she had just inserted in her mouth.

My son has shown me that children have more common sense than most adults. When I told him about what happened to Ms. Ryan and how some Applebee's say that mommies must cover up baby's heads and their breast while feeding the baby because they think it's disgusting he said "Well, I'm not going there!" and he was very angry. When I told him about the protest he said he wants to go and hold a sign that says "You're wrong. Breastfeeding is not disgusting" While, I don't encourage him to tell people that they're wrong, I still think it's amazing that my FIVE YEAR OLD is able to see how morally messed up this whole situation is. Breastfeeding is a normal activity. It's nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to be forced to cover up because of. Really, I've worn some pretty low cut shirts in my time because, well- I've got the cleavage for it. NOBODY has EVER asked me to put a blanket over my cleavage because they find it offensive. Hell, I've seen plenty of men staring at my cleavage but I can garuantee that those same people who found it acceptable for my breasts to be hanging out then would tell me to cover up if they saw me today as I pulled out my breast and exposed VERY LITTLE SKIN to nourish my son. My child however is able to see that it's a means to feed his baby brother. We could learn something from our children you know!

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Buzz on Applebees

In today's world, you can easily see more skin than you ever desired just by walking down the street. Take a look at the way people dress today. Low cut shirts, low cut pants with thongs visible to the world, shirts cut to expose the midriff, and boys wandering around with their jeans at their knees and their boxers exposed. Heck, I've seen people with just a fishnet shirt over top of a bra and super super short skirts that could more accurately be described as a belt. This is what I see on a day to day basis and this is acceptable by society. What isn't acceptable however is the mere inch, if that, of skin that you may ACCIDENTALLY see from a breastfeeding mother. The notion of a blanket is always thrown out there. Quite frankly, I see a blanket as a safety hazard when nursing a child. The blanket would clearly cause a child to become warmer than they need to be- said child would be dressed appropriately for the weather and is being snuggled against their mommy which provides additional warmth. A blanket, would just make them warmer than they need to be. There's also the fact that many children will not eat with a blanket on their head. Here's a nice experiment for you, place a blanket over your head and eat. Leave that blanket there for the duration of your meal and go ahead and let us know just how uncomfortable that is for you.

A Kentucky mom left Applebee's without ever getting a chance to enjoy her meal because she did not have a blanket with her due to the heat. She could not cover up and because the manager insisted on breaking the KY law and telling her that she needed to, she left to go nurse her child in car. You can find the press release here

Her treatment has resulted in a nationwide nurse in/out. People are aiming to make Applebee's change their policy and to make people aware of how important breastfeeding truly is.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; September 1, 2007 -
PUBLIC PROTESTS APPLEBEE'S RESTAURANTS NATIONWIDE
Breastfeeding supporters will gather on Saturday, September 8, 2007, at 12:00pm at Applebee’s Restaurants across the country to protest the treatment of Brooke Ryan and her 7 month old child.
Allegedly, on June 14th, while Ms. Ryan was breastfeeding her baby discreetly in a corner booth during an anniversary dinner with her family, an Applebee’s Manager asked her to cover her baby with a blanket. Ms. Ryan responded by citing the Kentucky law that states that “no person shall interfere with a woman breastfeeding her child". Ms. Ryan then produced a copy of the statute that she had received from the Kentucky Health Department, an organization that encourages women to keep a copy with them for situations such as the one she was experiencing. The manager, after reviewing a copy of the statute continued to insist that she had to "cover the baby with a blanket" if she wanted to breastfeed there, and that nursing her child was "indecent". The family left the restaurant before being served their meal, Ms. Ryan and baby in tears.
Shortly following the incident, Ms. Ryan retained the services of a lawyer who contacted Thomas and King, the company that owns and operates the Lexington Applebee’s location. Nearly 2 months later, the company responded with a letter stating "we are considering keeping blankets in the restaurants for use by breastfeeding mothers that may not have them readily available,” with the intent that mothers will be forced to put them over their babies.
Breastfeeding supporters have decided to conduct a public protest at the store location, as well as locations nationwide. It will occur on Saturday, September 8, 2007, at noon. When Senator Tom Buford, (Rep., KY), who spearheaded the passage of the Kentucky public breastfeeding law was told of the planned protest at the store in Lexington, KY, he said, "Let me know the date and I will come by and support you", and also made a suggestion of an appropriate sign for the event: "small children are not allowed to eat in this restaurant."
Even though there is a patchwork of strong and weak state laws aimed at protecting a woman’s right to nurse her baby, the mistreatment Ms. Ryan encountered is far too common. Most women who nurse their babies will at some time be forced to feel the shameful sting of discrimination. Usually this burden is carried by a woman in secrecy, due to fear of further anguish to her family. Some women choose to bring their stories to the public in an effort to educate and bring about a positive change. Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania woman was threatened with arrest if she did not stop breastfeeding her child at her local mall. Last November, a mother in Vermont was kicked off of a Delta flight for not covering up while breastfeeding her child. The Delta incident resulted in over 800 participants protesting the discrimination by conducting "nurse-ins" at Delta counters in over 40 cities across the US.
"Because most public breastfeeding laws do not provide a clear remedy for women who are harassed or discriminated against," said Salem Hamilton, Executive Director of Birth Without Boundaries, International, "we are asking for breastfeeding supporters across the country to encourage their legislators to add enforcement provisions to their state’s laws that would provide the protection women and babies need".
On Friday, August 31, 2007, the official corporate response as given by Mr. Alex Bressette, Applebee’s corporate office’s International Guest Relations Manager, is as follows: "Applebee's strives to provide a comfortable and enjoyable environment for all our guests. Our policies regarding breastfeeding are consistent with the laws of the states in which we operate."
In the spirit of the existing diversity and inclusion policy published by Applebee’s Restaurants, Birth Without Boundaries, Intl. is asking the corporation to adopt and implement an official breastfeeding friendly policy.
As a breastfeeding mother, Ms. Ryan is doing the best for her child by giving him the optimum nutrition possible. According to UNICEF, if infants worldwide were fed only mother's milk for their first six months, at least 1.3 million lives a year would be saved.
The September 8, 2007 event is sponsored by Birth Without Boundaries, International; a Pennsylvania based non profit organization committed to eliminating restrictions placed on birthing mothers and their babies.
Inquiries may be directed to Salem Hamilton, 717.379.8804, or to birthwithoutboundaries

You can find out if there is a local nurse in/out in your area by visiting our Yahoo group at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/bwb_lactivist/
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