Jaime King: Why I Posted a Photo of My Son Breastfeeding

06/11/2014 at 04:00 PM ET

Jaime King Omega Dark Side of the Moon Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic

A picture is worth a thousand words — or more than 19,000 likes.

Jaime King is in awe of the “most beautiful responses” she has received after posting an Instagram photo of her son James Knight nursing, she told PEOPLE Wednesday at the launch of OMEGA Dark Side of the Moon in New York City.

The Hart of Dixie actress says the sweet moment between her and her now 8-month-old baby boy — captured by King’s doula — was a very intimate moment in her life.

“I feel like now that I’m a mother, I realize that there’s a huge schism out there; that women feel judged because of what they choose to do and how they choose to feed their child. Why should we hide it?” King, 35, asks.

But the first-time mom, who exclusively breastfed her son “for a long time,” says the photo was meant to encourage all mothers — whether they nurse or bottle feed — and celebrate their choices without judgement.

“I also wanted to share the idea that it doesn’t matter whether you breastfeed or formula feed –as long as you are loving and caring for your child, that’s all that matters,” she explains.

According to King, her decision to bring attention to a woman’s right to choose breast or bottle is a response to celebrities pushing their views on the public, she says. It wasn’t long after she posted her photo that support from mothers all over the globe started pouring in.

“The responses from mothers were so grateful because there have been people out in the media being very judgmental, saying women have to breastfeed, or have to do this or have to do that,” she says. “I think that it’s really unfair for anybody in the spotlight — any sort of celebrity who has a very privileged life — to go out there and tell mothers what to do when they don’t understand their socioeconomic circumstances, when they don’t understand their health circumstances, when they don’t understand what their life is about.”

She continues, “I feel a responsibility as somebody who’s in the spotlight and as a public figure to let these women know they are not alone. I grew up in Omaha, my mother did both, and I am perfectly healthy and happy and fine.”

In the now famous photo of King nursing her baby, the two are cuddled up on a bed, but the actress insists breastfeeding is not just for behind closed doors.

“I think that it’s ridiculous that it’s okay to walk around with pasties or no clothes on, and that’s fashionable and cool, but it’s not okay to feed your child?” she muses. “Rihanna looked so epically stunning at the CFDA’s the other night when I was there, and she was completely nude. And she looked beautiful. So why is there a problem for a woman to be nude nourishing her child?”

She adds, “We all eat in public. I don’t see why it should be frowned upon. Nothing about the way a mother feeds her baby should be frowned upon.”

— Jessica Fecteau with reporting by Maggie Parker

FILED UNDER: Jaime King , News , Parenting

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Showing 43 comments

Bell on

Looks like Jamie should be feeding herself as well!

Join the conversation on

You post it because it would cause a “little” stir, ad then people would talk about you. Now move on, next subject

Kate on

She has been thin her whole life and is gorgeous! Stop criticizing her! Seriously, people applaud women that are overweight stepping into the spotlight and being proud of their bodies, but you can chastise her for having a naturally thin body? Get a life.

Amaryllis on

We don’t all eat in public off of someone’s breast. It’s not the same.

Karen on

Hope she is not one of those crazy young Mom’s breast feeding her kid until 5 years of age. Yuk!!!!

meme on

NOBODY IS JUDGING HOW U FEED UR CHILD! I just don’t want to see it!!!!!! If u have to flaunt it, overly prove u luv something, and say people r judging u then something internally in u thinks something is wrong with the choices u make…

Mel on

Attention. She posted a photo of her son nursing for attention. I have no problem with women breastfeeding in public, however, modesty would be nice for everyone. I never wanted to breastfeed my son in public without a cover. It is a bonding experience between a mother and her child, and I do not think that everyone else should be included in it.

Nancy on

I can not believe the comments posted here! It’s a boob, for Pete’s sake! We all have them and the purpose of them for women is to feed our children! Anyone who puts a sexual connotation on a boob is the SICK ONE! Get over it people!

KellyGreen on

I breast fed two babies and NEVER ran into any trouble or (public) judgment. The reality is not everyone is going to like everything you do. Get over it. Before I had kids, I thought it was weird when women breast-fed in public. Now I don’t. Big deal.

I think a lot of this “so-called” judgment is in these breast-feeding mother’s heads.

KellyGreen on

Kara – awesome. 🙂

Anonymous on

It benefits a hungry baby!

Jenna on

Awesome! So proud of Jaime King bringing this to light! It warms my heart that she is using her platform for such a great cause! This is the most natural thing in the world and yet people are so afraid of it! #bestfedisbreastfed

nunya on

Yes Jamie why did you feel the need to post it

MrsR on

I do not see the big deal here… as many people have been commenting breasts are not that big of a deal, all woman have them… people can hang their breasts out of their tops or the sides of their dresses etc and its “hot” and “sexy” etc which I don’t personally think shows class or taste but who am I to judge? As for public breastfeeding as long as I do not see full on breast I don’t care, it is normal and natural to feed your infant when it is required. This is why they make covers and blankets so that no one has to see or be offended by something that isn’t offensive at all!

Judy on

I don’t want to see women breast feeding in public. It makes people uncomfortable. What is so hard to understand?

maryhelenc on

I don’t understand the uproar. She’s feeding the baby. That’s how babies eat. It’s not a sexy thing, or an attention thing. It’s a “baby is eating” thing. Something is only dirty & wrong if you make it that way & feeding a baby is just feeding a baby.

Debbe on

All is fine if she would like to do that, but I would not choose to do that during such an intimate moment with my child and I. To each is own, but I am comfortable enough doing that privately and not feeling guilty about doing that privately.

way before on

Jamie king sounds like she invented breastfeeding, public or not…

Natasha on

So what if she is skinny. A lot of women actually lose weight as they breastfeed. Big deal.

Linda on

This is the latest thing for celebrities to champion. Now she gets all the attention she is so desperately seeking. I get the feeling with some of these breastfeeding Moms that it’s more about them than the kid.

Alison on

If looking at a breastfeeding mother is offensive, then stop staring at her and look at something else.

Meredith on

No, you did it for attention.

KL on

eww she is a little bit too skinny 😐

Editor-in-Chief on

Where are the editors? How can her SON breastfeed someone?

alanca on

I don’t like to see breastfeeding in public. I am fine with women doing it, but they should be discrete about it. I know, I know… it’s natural, it’s feeding a child, etc. etc, but… like it or not breasts are also sexual. They simply are – and that’s not a bad thing. Given that, you can’t blame people for preferring them to be covered in public, whether it’s breastfeeding or an over-exposed celebrity. It doesn’t make those of us who feel this way prudes, nor are we perverts. It’s just an opinion/preference that some things are personal and don’t need to be displayed in public.

alanca on

Oops – I meant “discreet”, not “discrete”.

Alex Richter on

Jaime King should really get more protein. Seriously.
Reminded me of Steve Rogers BEFORE the “Steroids!!!” XD

Ala Lemon on

I’m very surprised: people are uncomfortable with a woman breastfeeding her baby in public but a couple feeling up each other in public is OK? Breastfeeding your child is natural, that’s what boobs are for in the first place. If you don’t want to see it, then just look away. No one is forcing you to watch.

Anonymous on

Ala Lennon- Amen! The people who complain that women shouldn’t choose to breastfeed in public always seem to forget that THEY can also choose…NOT to look! They also apparently don’t realize that you DON’T have to cover up to be discreet about nursing in public.

If you pull your shirt up and your bra down just enough to to expose your nipples and feed baby using either the cradle or cross-cradle hold, no one will be any the wiser (unless they’re sitting right next to you, maybe! But even then they’ll see far less breast than you see women flashing just walking down the street on a daily basis!)! 🙂

janice on

keep it private, between mommy and baby…REALLY!!

Dee on

She is scarily skinny……looks sick.

Dee on

BTW don’t care about the breastfeeding, I would be more concerned with the amount of nutrients the baby is getting as she doesn’t look healthy.

Mandy on

I cannot believe some of these comments! Breasts are not sexual as they were made to nourish our children. Society has tried to make them sexual. As for her being skinny, she has always been that way & I’d say nursing is keeping the pounds off. That’s what happened to me. Two weeks after having my daughter I weighed less than before I got pregnant. If you don’t want to see a woman nursing look away! No one is forcing you to look. My daughter could not stand to be covered at all. I did not feed in public as we never went anywhere, but if my child needed to eat, she would have been fed no matter what people said.

dido437 on

People have ridiculous double standards. It’s okay for Rihanna to walk around with her tatas hanging out in see through dresses, but breastfeeding mothers should be ridiculed? What a crock!

Annie on

Nobody is judging women for how they feed their child. That has never been the issue. The issue is that mothers are not respecting other people’s boundaries in public and they are basically saying that their rights come before all others simply because their biology works. I don’t care if you do it but since a woman who isn’t breastfeeding would probably be arrested for indecent exposure for showing that much, you should at least have the courtesy to be discreet about it. Mothers need to get over their arrogance. You don’t belong to some elusive tribe in a third world country. You belong to modern society where respecting other people should be as important as asking us to respect you.

Lisa on

Jamie, great you posted a picture. Celebrities are not role models, you are a person that acts as your profession. If it were a picture of a doctor nursing than that would be something. But oh yeah people not in the spotlight wouldn’t necessarily post an intimate picture of themselves nursing their child. I nursed all four of my children and never posted one photo, the memories of that time live in my mind. When I nursed in public I did so discreetly, it’s called respecting others. My child is hungry but not everyone wants to see my boobs, it’s uncomfortable for some. People don’t have an issue with breadt feeling, there is no stigma.

Ann on

Is she still NURSING him????/

Sunny on

Many of you are comparing breastfeeding pictures to pictures of women, such as Rhianna, who show their breasts and you are saying everyone thinks it’s ok for Rhianna to flaunt it. I don’t think the majority of people think it’s ok for Rhianna to flaunt it. Both situations are women seeking attention.

alex on

she needs a cheeseburger.

EMiLY on

“Why?” because you’re pretty much irrelevant these days and will do anything to get back in the spotlight and have people talking about you. If you want to feed your child with your breast then do so, but to post it on the internet for the entire world to see is a cry for attention. If it was really about your child and not YOU you would just be feeding the child without needing validation from the entire free world that your a good Mom bc you breast feed.

Um on

I thought she did it so she can draw attention to herself.

Olive on

I don’t like her, but I do agree with her.

Jen on

Hear, hear, Jamie. Why should anyone feel ashamed to feed their child? It’s just nuts.