Somerset Collection Squashes Breastfeeding 'Flash Mob'

Management and security told St. Clair Shores resident Mary Napoli that she and almost a dozen other moms could not breastfeed in public in the mall Sunday afternoon.

What was supposed to be a peaceful breastfeeding flash mob at Sunday afternoon was shut down after mall management and security confronted the event’s organizer, .

"They wouldn't let us do it," Napoli, of St. Clair Shores, said. Napoli had organized the event along with In Home Lactation Specialists, LLC.

As one of 11 women who came to the event, Napoli had just sat down to start nursing her 1-year-old son when a security guard confronted her and told her she needed to stop.

When Napoli said she didn't understand why they couldn't do it, the security guard said, "We do not allow flash mobs."

But Napoli, who breastfed both her sons, thought it was about more than just a flash mob.

When she asked, "So, you don't allow nursing in the mall?" a mall manager replied: "Not in public, we don't."

Michigan state law says that public nudity laws do not apply to a woman breastfeeding a child, though Michigan is not one of the 45 states that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.

"Clearly, feeding your child a meal is offensive to do in the rest of this part of the mall, even though according to the state of Michigan, it's permissible and encouraged," Napoli said.

Edward Nakfoor, spokesperson for The Somerset Collection, said in a statement issued Sunday evening that the mall does allow breastfeeding, though it does not allow "demonstrating or protesting of any kind, as we are private property."

"I am extremely disappointed in the sheer ignorance of Somerset Collection," said lactation consultant Brandy Walters, who was present when the flash mob was dispelled. "I know the breastfeeding community will be supporting Mary."

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Do you think The Somerset Collection handled the breastfeeding flash mob appropriately? .

Lucie December 19, 2011 at 11:31 PM
Angela, you are soooo funny. My 10 month old refused to drink formula, and refused to drink from a bottle, even if it was breast milk. I have to breast feed her 100%. What am I supposed to do, stay in my house for 1 year, never go anywhere and never leave the house because my child is hungry? Boobs were made for feeding babies, and breast milk is far superior to formula in every way. I don't need to flash my boobs everywhere just to assert my right to feed in public, but I'm certainly not going to feel that what I'm doing is socially unacceptable. Apparently your parents fed you formula and your brain is messed up as a result.
Janice Rex-Weaver December 19, 2011 at 11:45 PM
Just getting a chance to read this article now..........and although I support breastfeeding in public - there are ways to be discreet (slings, coverups etc), also Michigan law does not state that it is illegal, I want to make it known that Mary Napoli is not with Peaceful Birthing, nor did Peaceful Birthing orchestrate the flash mob. Not sure how my business name became affilated with this story. Please make this known to your readers. Thanks www.yourpeacefulbirthing.com
Lucie December 20, 2011 at 12:02 AM
Thank you Karen, well said. I agree, why does everything have to be such an issue nowadays? My 3 yo sees me feed sister and he sees it as perfectly normal for mommy to do so. When did Americans become such prudes? European mothers breastfeed an average 2 years, and we don't hear it being such an issue there. They're just a pair of boobs, people. Half the time I'll have someone come stand next to me before they realize what I'm doing, then freak out like they walked in on me in the bathroom. I don't need to apologize for feeding my child when she's hungry. I just need a coverup.
Jen Anesi (Editor) December 20, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Thank you, Janice! Peaceful Birthing's name was attached to the original email I received about the flash mob. I have removed it from the story - thanks!
Lucille Musser Arking December 20, 2011 at 05:17 PM
As a mother who nursed all my children ,I cannot imgaine why a mother would think she needs to expose herself and her child in the public to peoples germs and noise .Both would do better in a more private and relaxed situation .
rachel December 20, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Be classy. Get a cover-up. Stop doing these retarded flash mobs and focus on your family, not on breastfeeding in public for all to see. I'd be pissed if I were one of your husbands. What a disgrace! YOU DON"T BREAST FEED, IN PUBLIC, IN A HUGE GROUP! There's something wrong with you people. Especially when you do it in a huge circle.. Lock em up!
rachel December 20, 2011 at 06:29 PM
I will never go to Somerset mall again. Not because of the people that work there that kicked these dumb women out but because of the people kind of people that go here. These women weren't even shopping. They wanted attention and got it. Shame on these women, for taking their God given right, out of context. A normal mom will not gather round with a bunch of women and say, "Hey, let's go to a HUGE public place, and breastfeed for all to see, because we have the right!!" Who are these women?!? Go get a freaking job.. You must be bored so you feel the need to whip your boob out in a public place, in front of Santa's castle, where other kids are, and are forced to see your nastiness.. How dare you! I'd kick you out too and never let you back into that mall ever again. Grow up! No one cares whether you breastfeed or not but COVER YOURSELF UP! That's why people get uncomfortable. And just because babies get hungry, at their own times, then be a mom! Get organized and come prepared with either a bottle or a cover-up garment, and stop doing it for ALL TO SEE! Good grief! It's women like them that makes this gift a completely, disgusting act. I'd be extremely uncomfortable if I were to see any woman breastfeeding in public with no cover-up on. It's wrong.
rachel December 20, 2011 at 06:45 PM
You got it Sharon. These women are off their rockers.. Literally..
rachel December 20, 2011 at 06:52 PM
I agree with you, Sandy. It is meant to be discrete and personal. You don't need to do anything in public, if you do, cover yourself up. You may not care if you see someone breastfeeding without a cover-up on, but others do. So these women need to stop being so selfish and realize that it does make people feel uncomfortable being exposed! Yes exposed, without a cover-up on.. My son does not need to see that kind of stuff. Be classy and cover-up already!
rachel December 20, 2011 at 06:54 PM
It may be natural but you can be classy and cover-up. Or, better yet, come prepared. pump first, bring a bottle, or feed the baby at home. Be a mom and get organized..
rachel December 20, 2011 at 06:56 PM
I will never go to Somerset Mall again, for this very reason. These women are going to try and take over. Half of them don't even live near Somerset, but yet, they feel like they have the right to do whatever they want. These women need to get a damn job and they need to realize that they are only hurting their kids and embarrassing themselves in the end. GET A LIFE! Get a cover-up and feed to your hearts content. But when you take it and do it out of context, it is wrong!
rachel December 20, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Were you there Mary Jo? It was 11 women, all feeding at once. In a BIG circle, for all to see. None of them had any cover-ups on. Give me a break! They did this for attention purposes ONLY! It wasn't even about their children, it was about them having the right to feed their kids from their boobs in public.
rachel December 20, 2011 at 07:03 PM
Women don't sit around, in a mall and say, "Hey, let's all breastfeed at the same time." It's not REAL! Real mom's don't sit around and want that kind of attention. There is clearly something wrong with that group of women. They don't even live near the somerset mall. They clearly went out of their way, just to breastfeed in a little pow-wow circle for all to see. IT'S WRONG! They did it the wrong way. Breastfeeding is fine. Be discrete about it though. You don't need everyone seeing your stuff. For a classy woman, you should want to keep it just between you and your child. Not for you, your child, and the next perv walking by. These women can nurse in public, but get a cover-up.. Not your clothes because we all know, that does NOT work. And what is this crap other people are saying, "If you don't like it, then don't look?" Screw you. Why can't you respect everyone else. It's not just about you! I would have banned those women from ever coming back to Somerset mall. They disgraced women's rights to breastfeed.
Lucille Musser Arking December 20, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Most people I know expect others to be descrete about things in public. Yet I often am offended by woman who wear clothes so tight you see the outlines of their private areas or they show their breasts and mid riff what's the big deal As my father taught me and my husband often tells me : modesty is more sexy then exposure . Why do t these woman wish to drive drive great distances to expose themselves in the mall . I agree cover yourself be descrete .
Bree M December 20, 2011 at 07:25 PM
The comments on this thread make me sick. Does this mall have a Victoria's Secret? If so, I'm quite certain there are many displays of uncovered breasts in the mall. Please, those of you who are so prudish as to demand women to cover, I hope you are also complaining about those displays. My child is breastfed. My child doesn't need bottles, nor does he need a cover because *you* think he should. I don't eat my food in a bathroom, and I am FEEDING him, not eliminating on him, so enough with the food/feces comparisons. What I do with my breasts is simply none of your business. I find many, many more offensive people out shopping than the typical breastFEEDing mother. And by the way, we happen to have a right to flash our breasts as much as we chose, previous poster. We cannot be ticketed for indecent exposure for FEEDing our children. We have that right.
Gabriel Luke Cannistraci December 21, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Bree, I understand and respect your opinion, but you are mistaken with your facts. The law does NOT allow the right, as you state it to "flash our breasts as much as we choose". That is called indecent exposure and you can be heavily fined for such things in this country. I agree, breast feeding is a beautiful and natural thing, and There is nothing inherently wrong with it at all. That is NOT the issue in question here, though. The issue is that 11 women were planning on making a spectacle of themselves to draw all of the attention in the area to them exposing their breasts. It was NOT a woman simply trying to give her son a "meal". If you want to feed in public, go for it, please, but again this has nothing at all to do with feeding a child. As to you comment about the Victoria Secret posters in the mall, they are NOT naked breasts being exposed, ma'am. They are still covered. Even still, I, and just about everyone I know, a vehemently opposed to those displays in public. My 4 yr old son walks past them and cannot look away, asking me why those women don't have all their clothes on. This disturbs me greatly as well.
Brad Kava December 21, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Every day we lose more freedom in this country. Every day. If it doesn't scare you, it should.
Jen Anesi (Editor) December 21, 2011 at 04:56 AM
To clarify the law, Bree and Gabriel, "public nudity laws do not apply to a woman breastfeeding a child" in the state of Michigan. http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14389 Hope that helps!
Lizette Andrea December 21, 2011 at 01:47 PM
when i go shopping i go to relax and have fun .not to see someone breastfeed when in public must think not to offend other people.a women breastfeed is the same thing as another person peeing in front you .don't want to see that so breastfeed at home.
Lucille Musser Arking December 21, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Brad This is not about freedom . It is about modestly . Women have feed their children in public for many years the just used modest methods . Also individual freedom ends where anothers begins . That was decided by the supreme court shortly after the consitution was signed . Thats why one should be modest in public .
Rebecca December 21, 2011 at 06:11 PM
the people that complain about a woman breastfeeding in public are just ridiculous. There is more exposure on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine, or at the beach, or walking down the street in summer than there is when a mother feeds her child. To the people that insist a mother should feed their child at home, get real! you don't control when a child is hungry. The next time you're out and get hungry, make sure you go home to eat. or take your food to the public bathroom for those of you that think a mother could or should feed her child out of your vision. Why is it ok for a woman to wear a bikini, or a low cut top with half of her breast exposed, but it's not ok for a mother to feed her child in public? I have never, ever seen a mother take her shirt off, or completely expose her breast in order to feed her child. That is why they make the nursing bras and nursing tops. All of you holier-than-thou self righteous people need to grow up already.
Johnu1 December 21, 2011 at 06:40 PM
I've been reading all these comments, most of which seem to miss the point. The flash mob was a deliberate attempt to make a mockery out of the process. There isn't much way that can be disputed. Most kids are fed on a schedule so it's not like there is an "oops, time to suckle the tot" moment here. A lot of kids are fed breakfast or lunch at home before Mom totes them off for a day of productive shopping. I think events in a mall courtyard would be something that's promoted as entertaining for the customers. A flash mob of breastfeeders could be considered less entertainment than a distraction -- and clearly it's not a pleasant distraction for everyone, considering the comments here. Considering that, the mall's objective is to make a profit, not create friction with the customers. The issue here, as I see it, isn't about how you should feed your children, where or even how ... but the flash mob was at best childish, boorish and contrived. There are places to breastfeed in that mall, but a dozen women gathering up their tots, floppin' out the old milk jug and making mockery of it in a flash mob, sorry, I can't support that.
Dawn Renée December 21, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Let's see ... we have a mayor who openly flaunts her bigotry against the GLBT community, and now one of the largest business owners of Troy has discriminated against womens' rights to feed their babies in public; based not upon their own policies or upon the law, but upon their arbitrary objection to the particular circumstances under which the women in question chose to excercise their rights. I think there is a case, here, to challenge in court whether or not a business owners' discretion can override established state laws, let alone contradict their own policies. There are plenty of precedences set for state and federal jurisdiction over-riding discriminatory and unevenly enforced business practices. Personal or proprietary offense felt over an individual's choice to exercise their rights as guaranteed by law is NOT a sufficient excuse to discriminate against any individual or group of individuals.
Johnu1 December 22, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Well, as long as the lawyers benefit, that's all that mattered in the first place.
c December 24, 2011 at 04:29 AM
There are plenty of nice lounges at Somerset Collection for mothers to use for nursing their babies. They are set up with a nice sofa and lounge area for just that reason. Why in the world would you want to sit on a hard bench in the middle of a mall to nurse your child. So many distractions and not at all comforting for the infant or that fact the mother. When a normal person nurses they don't call their friends and set up a nursing party they find a nice relaxing spot and nurse the baby.
Dawn Renée December 24, 2011 at 05:39 AM
Oh please, Johnu1! If human rights weren't violated on a daily basis in this country, the lawyers would be out of work in fairly short order. And clearly, Johnu1, you know nothing of breastfeeding or you'd realize that nursing babies is done on demand, not on a schedule. It doesn't really matter to me whether this was an organized demonstration or just a group of nursing moms whose babies all coincidentally cried to be fed at the same time. The ignorance of our culture in viewing the natural act of a woman breastfeeding a baby as offensive is something worth protesting! There are plenty of shops in the Collection that display images of unnaturally thin, tall teenaged female and male models, intended by fashion marketing media experts to represent "sex that sells" without a thought to the negative messages such images send to young men and women in our culture. For decades, the proliferation of such images have influenced teenagers towards anorexic/bulemic behaviors, and they continue to encourage stereotyping women as "sex objects" for the viewing pleasure of men. This is far more offensive and damaging to our culture than the sight of a mother breastfeeding her baby, and does nothing to promote healthy "family values" Public breastfeeding has only been become "unfashionable" during the last century or so, out of thousands of years of human civilzation, Perhaps those who feel offended by the sight of a mother nursing her child should rethink their own value systems.
Dawn Renée December 24, 2011 at 05:52 AM
You've got me, sara. There seems to be way to much concern about what men seeing and thinking about this, and primarily on the part of women! This seems to represent the antithesis of what should constitute healthy "family values", wouldn't you agree? What good has it done for women to fight for equality for all of these years if,we are still viewed as sex objects even when engaged in a simple, natural act of feeding our children?
Oubli December 24, 2011 at 12:20 PM
LOL I think people are just getting bent out of shape because the term flash mob is being used. Flash mob is just a sensationalistic term. If they had called it a sit in or some other term . . . Women expose their breasts darn near completely just through revealing clothing at the mall (esp in the summer time), I dare say that most women who breastfeed are covered up more than the average teen or women who dresses provocatively. I think most people just don't want to think about blurring the line between mom breasts and sexy breasts, it should be one or the other *sarcasm* and apparently Americans can't handle the thought of a breast being both. Sure I got a couple stares will accidentally exposing myself juggling baby, blanket and breast but you know I just glared right back. Piss off if you can't handle my motherly breasts and yes I would join in with other mothers and breastfeed publicly at a mall, I would be discrete about it but then again what mom wouldn't? Oh and my husband thoroughly enjoyed my enlarged milky breasts when I was breastfeeding (breastfeeding breast can be sexy!) and if some insane man like Chris tried to overtly stare at me while I was breastfeeding in public, well let's just say my husband would be the smuggest man in jail that day for defending his wife and her right to breastfeeding public without being gawked at by an idiotic wanker.
Beth Schmeisl December 30, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Yes, women should always cover their breasts in public. But I am having a hard time with the people who say women should NEVER nurse in public, even when covered. Have you ever tried pumping a bottle? It can take a day or two of pumping to get one small bottle (some women just don't get much when they pump). Not to mention, if you are out for more than a couple hours without nursing it gets painful and can mess up your milk supply if you don't nurse or pump. And you certainly can't pump in public! Women who are discreet and covered should not be made to feel they are doing something wrong for feeding their baby.
Dennis Poe May 11, 2012 at 10:30 AM
I agree women be able to breastfeed in public,they are just feeding their baby,if you don't have to look.Ive seen women breastfeed in public and it didn't bother me a bit if women want to breastfeed in public i say go for it.


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