Rather than have a verbal argument with him, the mom-of-three decided to take his pushy request quite literally.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 9, 2021. It has since been updated.
A breastfeeding mom's hilarious response to the judgy stranger who asked her to "cover up" has become the stuff of legends in the debate over whether women should openly nurse or practice "discretion." Melanie Dudley was breastfeeding her 3-month-old son in the corner of a restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, when a stranger approached and asked her to cover up. Dudley, who'd had her back to other diners, told TODAY that she was left speechless when she heard the man's demand. Rather than have a verbal argument with him, the mom-of-three decided to take his pushy request quite literally and threw a blanket on top of her head and face.
"I was on vacation in Cabo San Lucas with my entire family and a man asked me to cover myself," the Texas mom told Yahoo Lifestyle. "I'm usually discreet but we were seated in the back of the restaurant." Dudley revealed that although she'd initially used a nursing cover, it had been too hot for her baby. "I did have the cover on, but it was so hot. It was like, 95 degrees, and my little baby was sweating," she recalled. "I said, 'You know what? I'm on vacation, I'm taking this off.'"
Recalling the moment she heard the man's demand, Dudley said she'd been "kind of stunned" for a moment before she had an idea and asked her husband to pass her the nursing cover. "I just put it over my head. I don't know why," she said. "It wasn't like a salacious fight or anything. That was just my response. I had no words so I thought, I'll just cover my head instead." Her husband snapped a photo of the silly moment and later shared it with his mother, who posted it on Facebook. One of her friends, Carol Lockwood, reposted it on her page—with permission—where it took a life of its own with more than 137,000 likes and 225,000 shares.
Good grief Americans need to stop being so ashamed of a naked body. It is natural for women to breastfeed— shawna lyn culter (@slculter) August 12, 2018
For the folks who suggested she breastfeed in the bathroom, I say this: Take your dinner in there and see how you like it. Most bathrooms don’t have any place to sit down except the toilet- is that what you’d suggest? Breasts were made to feed babies- grow up!— Sally Swampleframp (@SSwampleframp) August 12, 2018
"A friend's daughter-in-law was told to 'cover up' while feeding her baby, so she did! I've never met her, but I think she's AWESOME!!! With permission, I've made this post public — I'm SO over people shaming women for nursing!!! PS: To reduce speculation: it was a man who asked her to cover up, it was 90 degrees and extremely humid, and, no, she wasn't in a Muslim country disrespecting traditions," Lockwood captioned the now-viral photo.
Fricken power move— Alyson💛 (@alysonbauer04) August 12, 2018
Dudley, who also has 4-year-old twins, revealed that she typically tries to cover up whenever she nurses in public. Although she breastfed her older boys for a year, she said, "It was impossible to do both at the same time when we were out so I never had this problem. With my little one, it's so much easier to nurse out in public." Addressing the internet's incredible response to the photo, she said she'd been quite surprised by it. Although she did receive a few negative comments, most of the comments—particularly the ones from Europeans—have been supportive, she said.
"I just can't believe it. It's wild to me," Dudley said. "If there's a larger message to this, it's just be supportive." She added that although several people who expressed discomfort with public breastfeeding had suggested that she nurse in the bathroom, she wasn't comfortable with the idea. "That's not very hygienic," she pointed out. Dudley now hopes her story provides inspiration to other nursing moms. "I hope the momentum keeps growing. Let's be supportive of women who want to nurse in public, with or without a cover," she said. "I mean, just do your thing. It's not hurting anyone."