'We made a mistake': Walmart, after photo lab staff refuse to print breastfeeding picture
Published Tuesday, May 14, 2013 4:03PM MDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 14, 2013 6:43PM MDT
Walmart is admitting it made a mistake, after photo lab staff refused to print and sell a Mother’s Day gift picture of a mom nursing her son. The photo was deemed as nudity.
Local mother Kayla Andre’s husband wanted to have a professional image of his wife breastfeeding their baby printed and framed as a Mother’s Day present.
But Andre says her husband was denied the print because staff said it violated photo policy.
“When he went to go pick it up, they brought the photo out and said unfortunately, although this means a lot to you, we can’t print it for you and we cannot sell it to you,” Andre said.
“He said, well why not, and they said because it’s nudity and Walmart has very strict no nudity policy.”
Andre says breastfeeding is a natural and normal part of being a mother.
“It’s beautiful,” Andre said.
She says staff at the Spruce Grove Walmart told her husband it was an inappropriate photo.
“He replied with, it’s not nudity, it’s my wife feeding our child. And they said well if you look really closely, you can see a little bit of something there,” she said.
“My photo has no sexual connotation at all and here it is getting denied.”
Kirsten Goa, president of the Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton, says she’s not surprised at what happened.
Goa says breastfeeding is often misunderstood in society and mothers still face negativity over breastfeeding in public.
“I was both annoyed and not surprised because I’ve been dealing with incidents like this for more than a decade,” Goa said.
“Censorship of breastfeeding both in terms of personal harassment, women covering up, women hiding in their houses, and their Facebook photos being deleted, all of that is happening all the time. That really intimidates a lot of people when they’re nursing their babies.”
'That photo should have been printed'
Walmart admits what happened was wrong.
“We made a mistake. That photo should have been printed,” said Alex Roberton, a spokesperson with the company.
“It’s the clarity in the policy. It’s obviously inappropriate to print certain photos so there needs to be some guidance for photo centre staff but that guidance wasn’t clear enough for them to know that those photos should have been printed from the get-go.”
After CTV News brought the incident to Walmart’s attention, Roberton said the company sent all Canadian stores an addendum to their photo policy, clarifying what constitutes an inappropriate photo and what doesn’t.
Walmart says employees at the Spruce Grove location have all been personally educated on the matter as well.
“They understand which photo should and shouldn’t be printed,” Roberton said.
“On the extreme, it is photos of full nudity or pornographic images, these kinds of things that we wouldn’t print.”
Roberton has also reached out to Andre about the policy confusion.
He says the company’s biggest customer base are mothers and expecting mothers and it’s a priority for Walmart to ensure those customers feel comfortable breastfeeding in the store and having breastfeeding photos printed if they choose.
“It wasn’t distasteful,” Andre said.
“It was a really nice, tasteful, beautiful photo of a mother and child.”
As for the photo, Andre’s husband ended up having it printed at an independent lab, so she still did end up receiving the print for Mother’s Day.
With files from Laura Lowe