‘One type of feeding is put on a social pedestal’: Tan France hits out at formula-feeding shamers

TV personality announced arrival of first child with husband Rob via surrogate this week

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Friday 06 August 2021 22:54 BST
Tan France explains why he and husband are formula-feeding newborn
Tan France explains why he and husband are formula-feeding newborn (Getty Images)

Queer Eye star Tan France has spoken about the importance of evolving the “conversation on how we feed our babies” after revealing that he and his husband Rob were inundated with questions about breastfeeding their newborn baby.

France, who revealed earlier this week that he and Rob had welcomed their first son Ismail via surrogate, addressed the numerous concerns about how their baby would be fed in an Instagram video posted Wednesday, in which he explained why it is important to normalise other methods apart from breastfeeding, such as formula.

“Ever since we announced that we were having a baby, people asked: ‘Where will you get your donor milk?’ ‘Will the surrogate donate her milk?’” the 38-year-old said in a post sponsored by formula company Bobbie.

“It’s such a strange thing that nobody at any point has talked about formula.”

In the video, France then reflected on his own upbringing, revealing that his mother had five children and two jobs, and that she “couldn’t possibly breastfeed me,” before adding that his husband was also a “formula baby,” and that they would be feeding their own child formula.

“We’re not getting donor milk,” the new father continued. “My surrogate isn’t able to pump, so we plan to feed our baby via formula because it is what makes sense for our life.”

In the caption, France explained that he had decided to address the matter and the shaming he and other parents often face if they aren’t using breast milk because it is Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

“Time to evolve the conversation on how we feed our babies. Let’s start by sharing and supporting every kind of feeding journey. Why now? It’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, where one type of feeding is put on a social pedestal and those who can not or chose not to are made to feel second best for formula feeding,” he wrote.

France then added that “no one should ever feel guilty for feeding their baby formula,” as a “fed baby is what matters most”.

In response to the post, many of France’s followers have applauded him for normalising formula-feeding and for speaking out against the parent-shaming often associated with methods other than breastfeeding.

“Love this so much! Yes! There needs to be some more talk about formula! Nothing wrong with it,” one person commented.

Another said: “Fed is best. Supported is best.”

However, the post also prompted criticism among many of France’s followers who breastfeed, with some accusing the star of drawing attention away from the topic during a month dedicated to helping mothers.

“Totally agree that there should be no shaming in how we feed our children but that’s not what breastfeeding week is about,” someone else wrote. “It’s about promoting support for new mothers, better quality information and guidance so that breastfeeding isn’t shamed.”

In a follow-up video posted to Instagram Live, France addressed concerns that he was shaming breastfeeding, with the TV personality explaining, according to Insider: “To any of those women who are watching this, I’m not saying breastfeeding is bad. We’re not judging you for breastfeeding. It’s wonderful that you have the luxury and the privilege to be able to feed your baby with your breasts. I can’t. I physically can’t. And therefore I need formula.

“We’re not saying that it’s better. We’re just saying it’s a great option. It’s an option for people who can’t or who are unable to breastfeed.”

On Monday, France revealed that he and Rob had brought their son home for the first time after the baby was born prematurely on 10 July.

“He came seven weeks early, so he’s been in the NICU (newborn intensive care unit) for the past three weeks. But, today, we finally got to bring him home. We love him so, so much. Like, fully obsessed,” the new father captioned a photo of himself and Rob holding the newborn.

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