this week on "The Office": Pam, Jim, and the Hooter Hider

Over at Alpha Mom, Amalah has a really interesting blog post this week on the big baby episode of The Office.  Like Amalah, I “hate– nay, truly and forcefully LOATHE–the way pregnancy and birth are depicted on TV and in movies.” You know, where the woman is screaming at her husband “You B*$%#! How could you have DONE THIS TO ME!” and it’s sooo funny.

The Office got it closer to right than any TV show I have ever seen (except maybe Betty Draper’s third childbirth on Mad Men, which was pretty bleak. I mean, I wasn’t alive then, but I hear that’s pretty much what it was like). The Office showed how labor progresses slowly but surely. Pam was not a whiner. They reused that old Knocked Up chestnut (“Do NOT go in there!”) but I could forgive them that. The baby really was a newborn. Best of all, they showed a new mother having lots of trouble breastfeeding– but not giving up– and then, eventually, figuring it out.

Well. They kind of showed that. Amalah is right that “they got it mostly right” about breastfeeding, and that for television, it was a rather large step forward. For me, though, it was a Pyrrhic victory, because whenever they showed Pam breastfeeding her new baby, she put on a Hooter Hider. I mean an enormous cover. It looked like one of those aprons you have to wear when you get X-rays at the dentist.

Now, sure, Jenna Fischer (who plays Pam) is not actually lactating. But c’mon. When I do my play Mother Load I pretend to nurse this Frankenstein doll, and I just pull up my T-shirt a little bit and stick him on, and it looks rather realistic if I do say so myself. What the network executives at NBC, who were probably freaking about about showing a nursing mom on TV, don’t understand is this: when a mother is successfully nursing, as long as she’s wearing something that pulls up from the bottom, you pretty much CAN’T SEE ANYTHING.

I thought the huge “Don’t Look I’m Breastfeeding Under Here” thing Pam wore throughout the episode was a disappointment. I’m thrilled to see breastfeeding portrayed as something positive, and normal. But I don’t want the enormous coverups to become normalized as well, like they are a necessary part of the breastfeeding experience. I nursed three kids successfully, and even in the hospital I never saw one of those Aprons of Shame.

So I’m curious: what did you think of the episode? And what do you think of these things?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca March 10, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I found the "tent" to be kind of apropos. Rather than it being NBC lauding over a no-breastfeeding rule, couldn't this be an example of a newbie mom really paranoid about "offending" someone with breast-feeding and choosing to use a nude-colored enormous tent? Maybe we'll see Pam evolve to where she isn't so guarded about things?


Mollie March 10, 2010 at 5:52 pm

They were much less squeamish last season (or whenever it was) when the "Stamford people" arrived in Scranton. One of them was a new mom who irritated everyone (aside from Creed) by pumping breastmilk at her desk. She also dressed her infant son in pink and then got mad at people for thinking he was a girl. "His favorite color is pink." Heh. I was kind of sad when she quit, even though it was obvious all along that she would…


Anonymous March 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I did not see the Office episode however I am currently breastfeeding my 3 month old son. My sister (who also nursed) purchased a similar coverup for me. I use it when I need to pump in the car or in the house when my 18 year old son is walking around. I believe breastfeeding is natural and it's nothing to be ashamed of. I also think it depends on the nursing moms comfort level. The newer you are to breastfeeding the more the coverup maybe necessary for you. I don't have an issue when nursing moms are able to coverup with only the shirt they are wearing. I have not mastered that skill yet. Unless breasts stop being seen as sexual will the "public" stop seeing it as something nursing mothers need to hide.


jakes mahoney March 12, 2010 at 12:51 am

As a relatively new, breast feeding mom (my daughter is almost 6mo old)I love my "hooter hider!" I am very proud of breast feeding my daughter, but for the first few months I felt so uncoordinated that mastering the art of getting my daughter latched on w/out exposing myself to the world was just stressful. I didn't purchase my cover until after I was home from the hospital, but I wished I had it from the very beginning! I was so excited to see the Office use breastfeeding as an integral part of the story & comedy of the episode. Kudos to them even if it wasn't perfect!


The Marketing Mama March 14, 2010 at 2:20 am

I didn't see it, but I'm happy to hear they showed her breastfeeding at all. Can you imagine if they ignored it all together? Oy.

I never used any hider things, with my first I would use a receiving blanket if necessary – with my second I ended up ordering a nursing "shawl" – which was a black shawl/poncho looking thing that also hid my post-baby tummy and I would wear it out in public – then it covered up nursing very easily.

Anyhow – I don't think those hiders should be used for OTHER people, but for the mom if she's too self-conscious not to.


Adventures In Babywearing March 19, 2010 at 1:12 am

Just reading this now but agree with you 100% on this one!!!!!!!



Betsy March 26, 2010 at 1:25 am

I have one and I love it. It took me a long time to figure out how to get my daughter latched on without exposing both breasts, my stomach and my red face. Now that I'm better at it, my daughter likes to unlatch, stretch and take a look around in the middle of feedings which can take anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes. Sometimes I use it and sometimes I don't. Although I do feel breastfeeding is a natural thing that should be celebrated, I do not feel total strangers should be forced to look at my breasts when they are out to dinner.

As a side note, the other day I was feeding my daughter in a park with no covering. Following the feeding I changed her on the bench I was sitting on using a changing pad beneath her. Passers-by were much more offended that I would dare to change her diaper on a bench than they were by my breastfeeding.


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