If breasts could talk

The Lactivist invites breast-feeding moms to promote the cause by using their chests as ad space.

By Catherine Price
Published February 6, 2007 7:53PM (EST)

If breasts could talk, they probably wouldn't need T-shirts with snappy slogans. But since women's chests aren't able to speak for themselves, lactating mothers can give them a voice with clothing from the Lactivist. The Lactivist's goal is to support nursing moms by "promoting issues like breastfeeding in public, milk bank donation and child-led weaning."

The choices are as ample as a new mom's bosom: "Milk Jugs" T-shirts for the mothers, "Boob Monster" outfits for the kids and even "My Kid Sucks" and "Why Wouldn't I Want to See More Breasts in Public?" support lines for dads. (We're particularly fond of the "That's My Baby's Lunch You're Staring At" spaghetti-strap tank.)

The story behind the site is interesting -- for her day job, its founder, Jennifer Laycock, works as a search-engine marketing consultant, trying to help small businesses market themselves online. She figured that she could learn more about her clients if she tried to launch her own online business, so she gave herself a month to create an online business from scratch, with no capital, and turn a profit. So why breast-feeding shirts? She'd been pumping breast milk for her young daughter for a year (she wasn't able to directly breast-feed) and wanted to give something back to the women she'd met through online discussion groups, who helped provide a sense of community and support to her during her year of pumping.

What's more, she'd been pumping enough milk that she had extra, which she donated to a local milk bank -- and decided that part of the Lactivist's goal should be to promote awareness of human milk banks. (See here for more information.) She created a milk bank shirt line -- including conversation starters like "Modern Day Wet Nurse" and "These Breasts Save Lives" -- and is donating all of the profits from those T-shirts to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio.

Of the tees, Laycock writes, "Hopefully they'll bring a smile to the face of some other new mom that needs a bit of a pick-me-up to make it through herself." Kudos to that.

One of the project's strange side effects was that Laycock became embroiled in a bizarre legal snarl with the National Pork Board, which threatened to sue her over the Lactivist's "The Other White Milk" breast-feeding T-shirt. Fortunately, Laycock and the board have reached a resolution, and she got a written apology from the board's CEO. We knew breast-feeding could be controversial -- but who'da thunk bacon would be involved?

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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