Margaret Ellen Bradford will nurse her 6-month-old daughter, Harper, absolutely anywhere. “I breastfeed at Target. I’ve breastfed in the pew of a church,” the mom of three tells Us Weekly. “I never use a cover because Harper won’t allow me. She rips it down or screams and it ends up bringing more attention to us.” So when Harper grew hungry at a Cleveland, Ohio, rally for Senator Bernie Sanders on February 25, Bradford — who was seated in the second row — did what she always does: She fed her baby. But unbeknownst to Bradford, the moment was captured by photographer Alan Chin, and the image quickly went viral, inspiring the hashtag #BoobsForBernie.
“I wasn’t trying to be revolutionary,” says the stay-at-home mom. “It was not a political statement. It seems kind of ludicrous that a photo like that could go so viral from me doing something so simple.”
After the rally, the Democratic presidential hopeful and his wife, Jane, applauded the 23-year-old. “Jane came up to me and said, ‘Thank you for nursing your daughter when she got hungry,’” Bradford tells Us. “Bernie thanked me for being a mom and bringing my daughter.”
Later, Sanders’ campaign tweeted the picture, saying, “As a society, we should never stigmatize women for breastfeeding in public.” Celebrity breastfeeding advocate Alyssa Milano showed her support by sharing an article about Bradford on Twitter. And on Monday, March 7, Big Bang Theory actress and lactation educator Mayim Bialik told Us Weekly, “I think you should breastfeed anywhere you should be able to give a bottle.”
But it hasn’t been all praise for Bradford, who shares Harper, Xavier Joel, 4, and Gavin Jackson, 3, with her husband of five years, Luke.
“The majority of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, but the negative is pretty bad,” admits Bradford. “I’ve received multiple death threats. How insane is it to make death threats for something as simple as feeding my daughter?”
Bradford is shielding herself from the ugly comments and focusing on the outpouring of support.
“The picture has gone viral in places like Australia and India and Ireland,” Bradford tells Us. “I have people that are defending me from across the globe!”