This is an awesome post about the whole "nursing in public" ignorance that takes place so often. Go check it out. It illustrates how so many people get all riled up seeing a few centimeters of skin exposed for a mother to feed her baby (honestly now - how many times have you seen a woman nursing in public exposing her nipple for any serious length of time, or at all? I don't think I EVER have) while they will tolerate all kinds of skin exposure in magazines, on billboards, in advertisements to sell beer, jeans, CDs, or whatever.
I am convinced it is not about the real exposure that comes from nursing in public (NIP) that bothers people. Most of the time, if a woman is nursing in public, there isn't much exposure at all, and certainly no more than you will see in other places in hot weather when girls are running around in skimpy clothes. It is, I'm certain, the ACT of NIP - the act of breastfeeding in general - that upsets and offends people.
I don't have the time or energy to go into much depth with this, but I think a lot of it comes from our need, as a culture, to overcome nature, to deny that which is natural and biologically normal. This extends to our obsession with hygiene and showering constantly, shaving every part of our body we can, prefering to take drugs to treat our ailments rather than concentrating on the root causes and fixing our diets or lifestyles. Breastfeeding is the perfect example of what our bodies, our most basic human NATURE, can do if left alone and allowed to do what they need, and it it offensive to many. The baby bottle, baby formula, the sterility and unnaturalness of it all, seems so much more safe, and so much less offensive, to the majority.
Remember Demi Moore's magazine cover, where she posed nude while very pregnant? Remember the uproar? It was beautiful. Remember any of the covers linked to in the post above? Christina Aguilera on Rolling Stone, or Janet Jackson on another issue? Where was the uproar there? There wasn't, because they were presenting breasts in their culturally acceptable context - as sex object - not in their natural context - as objects for feeding and comforting a baby.