What should have been a magical trip to the “happiest place on earth” turned into a mom-shaming opportunity for thousands of internet trolls. Mom of two, Meredith Barnyak, went viral for a candid moment captured by a ride camera at Disney World’s EPCOT center, and once the image spread, the mom-shaming began.
The photo, initially shared within the family, caught the attention of Barnyak’s cousin, Jo Goddard, who runs a popular Instagram account called @cupofjo. After seeking permission, Goddard posted the image on her Instagram, celebrating Barnyak as an exemplary mom on a Disney ride as she breastfed her one-year-old daughter, Poppy.
“My cousin @meredithbarnyak being an absolute MOM on this Disney ride. 💪💪💪🏆🏆🏆❤️❤️❤️,” she wrote in the caption of the photo which clearly shows Barnyak holding her baby close as she feeds.
What should have been a celebratory moment of mom’s being able to feed their kids literally anywhere they want like the bosses they are, people decided to take another route with their thoughts.
“Not to be a stick in the mud, but this seems…kinda dangerous?? Am I overestimating the thrill level on this ride? The rest of the adults seem to be clinging on pretty tight!” one user wrote.
“I’m so confused. I used to work at an amusement park, and you couldn’t even bring a purse or backpack on a ride, never mind a whole baby??” one wrote.
“Why does she not have blanket to cover herself and the baby with,” another asked.
Several people accused Barnyak of wanting to be the “center of attention,” which is such a reach. That’s a lot of effort to go through to be the “center of attention” on an amusement park ride photo that everyone looks at for 2.5 seconds and then moves on.
One user wrote, “I don’t have anything against feeding your baby in public and I actually encourage women to do it, but some people, like your cousin, just wants to be in the center of attention 🤷🏻♀️! And by the way, having a baby on a ride at an amusement park…. 🤦🏻♀️”
“Beyond attention seeking…and honestly rude, so the other people on the ride are stuck with this photo of you with your boob out? Nice,” another said.
Other complained she “ruined” the photo and said, “I just feel if I wanted to purchase the photo, like you always have the option to why would I want someone I don’t know breastfeeding. Just saying it ruined the photo for others to buy for a memory who may not have another chance to go to Disney”
Who is purchasing amusement park ride photos? In 2023? Couldn’t be me!
Barnyak explained her side of the infamous photo during an interview with Today.
“As soon as I saw the flash, I was like, ‘Oh no, I think all these people have a picture of (me) breastfeeding my baby on this ride,'” Barnyak said.
As for her decision to feed Poppy, she figured no better time than a chill water ride in a dark room.
“She would just pull on my shirt and I thought, ‘OK, it’s dark out. We’re all humans. We’re all honestly going to enjoy the ride a lot better and you’ll be happier being fed,'” Barnyak said.
“I am a pretty big proponent of any way you can feed your baby you should be able to do it — in any place.”
For all the commenters worried about the baby’s safety, Barnyak assures that the ride was more than safe.
“I guess if you look at this picture, it might look like it’s an intense ride. But it’s a boat ride,” she explained. “There’s no seatbelts. It’s a very nice relaxing ride except that the there is a drop that you don’t see coming because it’s dark. And that’s what that photo was taken.”
The Disney website says the Frozen Ever After ride is appropriate for “all ages” and “any height,” noting that it is a slow ride with “small drops.”
“If anything, I felt like it was actually more secure because she was in one place versus me having to juggle her moving around. I wouldn’t have breastfed my child if it was a roller coaster,” she concludes.
The fact that people just cannot help but be utterly offended by the act of a child nursing is beyond confusing. Yet here we are, coming to the end of 2023, and moms are still being shamed for breastfeeding their children in public. Whether it be a park, a lazy river, or the beach — it seems that moms cannot win when it comes to how they choose and where they choose to feed their babies.