History of the #brelfie: What’s got social media mums’ knickers… and bras in a twist?

So we’ve got delfies to show off your furry, four-legged friend and ussies for when you’re snapping pics with your (more often than not) less furry, two-legged friend.

The nomakeupselfie showed the world your natural beauty and the felfie came about to ensure the farmers weren’t feeling left out.

But what about the brelfie? These are the breastfeeding selfies flooding the Twittersphere and Instagram.

They are a response to proud mums being criticised and even reported to or blocked from social media for posting photos of them feeding their babies.

Here’s how it all started…

April 2009

The Equality Bill was introduced into Parliament with a clause on breastfeeding.

June 2011

The Department of Health withdrew major funds from National Breastfeeding Week 18 years after the campaign first launched and a week before it was set to start.

Retailer Mothercare joined forces with the Royal College of Midwives to run in-store events instead as well as other local events.

July 2013

National Breastfeeding Week – covered by MM as Manchester restaurants opened up baby nursing rooms.

August 2013

Manchester mum, 22-year-old Stephanie Wilby, was kicked out of the Manchester Aquatics Centre for breastfeeding in the pool and lifeguards were warned not to discriminate (re: Equality Act 2010). A few days later a flash mob formed in protest.

Another local mum is in the news at the moment for being asked to cover up while breastfeeding, but has vowed never to step foot into the Northern Quarter restaurant despite a public apology.

November 2013

Academics collaborated with the Government to offer financial incentives in the form of shopping vouchers to women in low take-up areas who had to breastfeed until their babies were 6-months-old.

The pilot scheme was rolled out across the whole of the UK last year due to its success.

December 2013

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen tweeted a condescending photo of her breastfeeding while being pampered by nail technicians and hair stylists – this photo is widely regarded as what started the brelfie trend along with Gwen Stefani’s photo posted on Instagram.

Gisele is a big advocate of breastfeeding (her daughter was 1-year-old in the photo) and she made provocative political statements in 2010 that it should be illegal for women not to breastfeed their children until 6 months old.

The mum-of-two is the highest paid supermodel in the world.

January 2014

Lib Dem Equalities Minister MP Jo Swinson publicly said breastfeeding should be allowed in the workplace, even in Westminister.

November 2014

The 2015 Infant Feeding Survey was cancelled despite having been conducted every five years since 1975 and providing essential evidence-based research in this area.

The consultation was closed on November 11 2013 and findings published on January 22 2014.

December 2014

Ukip leader Nigel Farage had a bit of a boob when he said that women should sit in the corner and breastfeed following a British actor’s wife being asked to cover up with an oversized napkin in London’s Claridges.

He later said that his comments were taken the wrong way, but he was slammed by women, especially those on Mumsnet.

January 2015

Young mother, Kaya Wright, was reported to Facebook administrators under nudity violations for posting a brelfie in a closed Breastfeeding Support Group page.

She later gave an interview with the Liverpool Echo sparking a Facebook protest with solidarity from Scouse mums and yet more brelfies.

February 2015 – last week

Breast feeding was added to the 1001 Critical Days Manifesto.


APPG are calling for a change in the law so new mothers are given paid breaks to breastfeed.

Employers are against the proposal, saying that communication between a mother and her employer on what she needs upon returning to work is the way to go.

Main image courtesy of Jeff Snodgrass, with thanks.

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