Hundreds gather in Rugeley for breastfeeding protest
When Emily Slough was branded a 'tramp' simply for breastfeeding her daughter in public, she knew other mums must have faced similar insults.
But today her feeling that most people do not share that vitriol was proved right, when hundreds gathered for a mass protest in the centre of Rugeley.
Dozens of mothers breastfed their children by the restaurant steps in Market Street where MrsSlough was secretly photographed last week by a member of the public, who posted the image on Facebook and labelled her a 'tramp'.
The incident caused uproar, with mums and others from far and wide hitting back at the original post.
It led to at least 300 people – men, women and children – gathering today, some wearing pink ribbons and T-shirts reading: 'Rugeley Mass Feed 2014. Free to Feed.'
Pink balloons were tied to street lamps and the crowds there waved banners and chanted.
Mrs Slough, aged 27, from Rugeley, said she was overwhelmed by the turnout.
She said: "It's amazing. I wasn't expecting it. I thought we'd get a couple; I didn't think we'd have this many."
She added: "We are just trying to raise awareness. The person who took that photograph thought it was OK to try and shame a lady out feeding her baby.
"If mums are uncomfortable we want to show that the majority of people out there are OK with it and encourage you to do it.
"You don't need to be shy."
Among the others proudly breastfeeding their children was Ashley Atterbury, who had her 16-week old son Aiden with her.
She travelled from her home in Wilmcote Drive, Sutton Coldfield for the protest after hearing about it on Facebook.
Miss Atterbury, aged 25, said: "I'm quite confident feeding publicly but I have a lot of friends that aren't. If that had happened to a friend of mine I think it would be a real shame.
"If all these people are here then it's less likely people will make negative comments," she added.
Sam Kirton, 33, of Red Lion Avenue, Cannock, was feeding her 10-week old daughter Farah at the event.
She said: "I really just want to show support. I understand how hard it is when you're out and about.
I also fed my little boy, who's now three. I can't honestly say I've had any negative comments; it's more the looks. You can tell people don't like it.
"I just think, 'grow up'. At the end of the day it's a baby having food and nothing more than that."
Mrs Slough had been out shopping on March 7 when she stopped to feed her eight-month-old daughter Matilda on the steps of the H.K. Cantonese Restaurant and Take-Away and have some lunch there.
But unbeknown to her, a stranger had spotted her, taken a photo and posted it on the local Spotted Rugeley website, saying: "I know the sun is out n all that but there's no need to let your kid feast on your nipple in town!!! Tramp."
Her story caused an online storm and she was even branded a 'peasant' by an 'etiquette expert' on a local radio show.
Mrs Slough, who was supported by her proud husband at today's protest, said she was 'gobsmacked' when she saw the original Facebook post.
She added: "I couldn't believe someone could be that sad. It's just ridiculous.
"I've never had anybody say anything negative at all before.
"It's only a problem to the people that have a problem with it. You are never going to change everybody's opinion, but that's fine. They just need to get on with their lives quietly and let us get on with ours."
The hashtag #rugeleymassfeed has hundreds of posts on Twitter and similar events by other supporters were planned to take place in York and Swansea.
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