Like millions of women around the country, Tess Holliday—with her 7-month-old son, Bowie, and husband—participated in a Women's March January 21. In the middle of the event in Los Angeles, the plus-size model decided to breastfeed her baby, and as a result, was surprisingly confronted with backlash on social media. (Read: Tess Holliday Just Bashed The Hotel Industry for Catering to Smaller Guests)
"I didn't feel uncomfortable or weird—people didn't even look at me," the 31-year-old told PEOPLE. "People were just oblivious to it because it's a Women's March."
But after she posted a picture of her breastfeeding in public, several people commented claiming it was inappropriate and unsafe for the baby, which is quite ironic given the circumstances.
Breastfeed anywhere Thank you to my friend @jessicalouiseimagery for capturing this moment during today's @womensmarchla #normalizebreastfeeding #womensmarchla My earrings are @doodad_and_fandango Edited to add: Those saying that I should "cover up" You mean when I'm breastfeeding MY baby who was a) hungry & b) screaming because he was overly tired & the crowd overloaded his senses & it was the only way to comfort him?! I will feed my child anywhere I want. Also CA state law protects me to do so. Keep your uneducated opinions off my body.
In her post, Holliday explained her decision to breastfeed by saying that her son was "hungry and... screaming because he was overly tired and the crowd overloaded his senses." But honestly, she shouldn't even have to explain herself in the first place.
"I just think the comments are stupid, just because of where I'm at and because I'm protected under the law in California and most other states to breastfeed," she continued to tell PEOPLE. "I didn't mean to make a statement, but when I saw the photo I realized how powerful it was, especially with them cutting funding to so many programs that support women and mothers."
And while it would be nice if we lived in a world where women didn't have to provide an explanation for choosing to breastfeed their child, Holliday reassured her haters that she didn't put her son in danger and that she didn't expect the turnout to be as large as it was. Organizers had estimated 80,000 marchers in L.A., but the total was around 750,000.
"I really wanted to take Bowie because it was history, and I wanted him to be a part of it," she says. "He wasn't in danger at any point. It was safe, it was peaceful, I never felt scared."
Thankfully, it seems that Holliday's baby made quite the impression on the people marching, who allegedly had nothing but positive things to say.
"I kid you not, Bowie was like the star of whatever area we were in," Holliday said. "People were saying, 'Oh my god, baby's first protest!' I think I heard that a hundred times. People were saying, 'Oh it's so great that you brought him!' There were women there in their 60s saying, 'We did this for Roe v. Wade like 40 years ago.' It was really cool."
"Everyone was so supportive, and when people saw Bowie their faces lit up. I would do it again, and I would do the same thing again."