A mom is causing some big changes after she was shamed for breastfeeding her baby at a local gym. Ashley French was incensed when an owner of the gym told her she couldn’t nurse in public. Reaching out on social media, French found support from moms the world over. Now, a protest organized by the British Columbia mom has grabbed attention and prompted a surprising response from the gym.
French said she was feeding her baby at No Limits Fitness in Kamloops, BC when she was approached. One of the gym’s owners, Alicia Grover, reportedly asked French to go to the washroom to breastfeed.
“The exchange was not what it should have been,” French told Castanet, adding that staff used vulgar language to refer to her anatomy.
“It really shocked me,” French said. “To reduce a woman’s body to just a sexual object and render it inaccessible to her child, really.”
An outraged French immediately canceled her membership at the gym and left. Later, she took to social media to express her grievance. Her post drew support from many other mothers in the area who said they’d had similar experiences. Together, French and the local moms planned to hold a quiet protest outside the gym. The aim of the event was to provide education on breastfeeding rights.
A Change Of Heart
Meanwhile, gym co-owner Grover took it upon herself to research the issue of public breastfeeding following the incident. Her reading led her to a change of heart — and to reach out to French with an apology.
“This isn’t how we are, this isn’t how I am,” Grover told Castanet. “And I want to apologize not just to Ashley, but the entire community of breastfeeding mothers and people who feel like this hurt someone.”
When Grover and her co-owners learned of the planned protest, they welcomed French and her group of demonstrators. At the event, Grover even read an apology letter she had written to French.
“Ashley and any other women that are listening, I am, from the bottom of my heart, sorry for my actions, my words, and what the last two days have brought up for hurt,” Grover read.
At the conclusion of Grover’s speech, French walked up and embraced her. The pair then engaged with protesters in an open dialogue about public breastfeeding.
“I think that a lot of people have been educated, and a lot of people are asking some hard questions,” French said at the event. “I wanted to give No Limits Fitness the opportunity to come out and chat with us, like right outside their business, and they did, and I’m really glad I got to speak to Alicia again, one-on-one.”
Following the event, No Limits Fitness announced that they would be holding an educational clinic to educate their staff on the issue of public breastfeeding. The gym has invited French to be a speaker at the event, which will reportedly be open to the public.