Sophie Mumper’s senior project gains recognition


Even though Sophie Mumper is attending college in New York this fall, she doesn’t plan to end her effort. “I don’t know if it’s as big of a problem in New York, but it’s my responsibility to continue pursuing the project when I’m here,” she said. Photo courtesy of Sophie Mumper

Senior Sophie Mumper took her senior project from a local, community-oriented assignment to a movement gaining national recognition.

The aim of her project was to create a coalition of breastfeeding friendly restaurants in Decatur and destigmatize breastfeeding in public.

She became passionate about the issue when traveling in Portugal.

“I saw a woman pull out her breast and breastfeed,” Mumper said. “At first, I thought, ‘that’s kind of weird,’ but that caused me to reflect on why I thought it was weird and that’s just because I don’t see it here.”

From that moment, she knew she wanted to do something for women struggling with the societal stigma against breastfeeding in public.

After choosing her topic, Mumper started research immediately. She found a similar movement in Athens, led by the Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition and reached out to them.

“I pretty much reflected their movement in Athens here, which was initially emailing restaurants, then approaching them in person and then distributing the stickers,” she said.

At first, the response was very “underwhelming.”

She only got two initial responses, one from her boss and one from a local restaurant saying that putting up the sticker would be against their policy.

As time went on, however, more restaurants agreed to hang the sticker.

“By the time I had 11 restaurants, I decided to send that press release out to Decaturish,” she said. “From there, the same day that article was published, I got an email from Fox News. A week later ABC News called me and I actually walked out of my lunch period to talk to them. That was weird, stepping out of your lunch period to talk to a national news broadcaster.”

While she expected the local news to be interested in her movement, she was shocked at the magnitude of the response she did receive.

But the responses from mothers were the most meaningful to Mumper.

“My mother has this friend who just recently had a child and she left a voicemail crying about how much the project moved her because that stigma is really powerful for women that need to breastfeed their children,” she said.

The responses weren’t all positive, though.

“There were, ironically, a lot of comments from women saying the parts they didn’t agree with was women showing their breath,” Mumper said. “It was kind of a thought-provoking observation for me because at that point it was women teaching shame about the female body.”

But Mumper was pleasantly surprised by the response of her project overall.

“It was pretty rewarding, not just the attention from news broadcasts, but hearing mothers really appreciate the coalition,” she said. “I had no idea it would have such an impact.”