Statement Piece: Tijuana Art and Activism
A Tijuana artist makes a case for public breastfeeding.
Tijuana’s largest public health care facility has a new paint job with a message: There’s no shame in breastfeeding your baby.
A 45-by-15-foot mural of a mother nursing her newborn—titled “Río de la Vida” (“River of Life”) by local artist Ariana Escudero—now covers the main entrance of Hospital General de Tijuana in Zona Río, where approximately 90 mothers give birth every day.
Inspired by the social stigma she experienced when breastfeeding her own son (who is now two and still breastfed), Escudero spent three weeks in July and August painting the mural.
“It seemed so important to me to bring this message in this way because many mothers will come [to the hospital],” she says. “But they’ll come to doctors, many of whom are surprisingly misinformed about breastfeeding—just like the general public.”
Misinformation regarding breast-feeding, or amamantar, is widespread in Mexico. It’s considered taboo here, more so than in the U.S., especially when women feed their children in public. So, at the urging of their doctors, most mothers choose formula despite the added cost. That’s resulted in only 14 percent of Mexican mothers breastfeeding—one of the lowest rates in Latin America. “Mothers who decide to breastfeed our children do not have any reason to be censored,” Escudero says. “That’s why we must normalize it to create a culture of breastfeeding, and fight for women’s right to choose.”
Avenida Centenario 10851, Zona Río, Tijuana