Tan France got hate messages for posting a ‘fed is best’ message about formula

Tan France and his husband, Rob, had a baby via surrogate this July, a son they named Ismail. They made the decision to formula feed as their surrogate could not pump and they decided not to use donated or purchased breastmilk. I imagine it’s harder to get safe milk during the pandemic too, especially because you have to consider the donor’s vaccination status. Tan is a spokesperson for an organic baby formula company called Bobbie. Bobbie posted a video in August of Tan discussing his choice to use a surrogate and feed his baby formula. He said that both he and Rob were formula babies, that their surrogate wasn’t able to pump and that fed is best, essentially. In response he got hate mail for that. Of course he did. Tan was on a Parents Magazine podcast where he said he got 17,000 DMs following that post. Here’s more, via People:

Speaking on Parents magazine’s We Are Family podcast, France said he received 17,000 DMs after making that post, many hateful comments from some people who misunderstood his message. He recalled that “almost every one was filled with such venom.”

“Our surrogate wasn’t able to pump for us, and we didn’t want to use donor milk. We did a lot of research into donor milk, and for us it just wasn’t right for us,” explained France. “Obviously I’m in a very interesting position where when we say that we’re having a baby, a lot of people have an opinion on how we’re having a baby and how we will feed our baby.”

“I want to make it clear to everyone listening: I 100 percent believe that breastmilk is the gold standard, so does Bobbie. We all understand that. If I could breastfeed my child, 100 percent I would,” he said. “I can’t. Therefore, I need to not be shamed for that.”

“I think they were misunderstanding what I was trying to say with my participation with this campaign,” [France] continued. “I wasn’t saying we don’t need to support the moms who are wanting to breastfeed — of course they should be given every support they need. We also need to not shame the people who cannot breastfeed their child or give their child breastmilk and have to formula feed, or just choose to formula feed.”

France, who said the hate is sometimes “expected” given what he’s used to encountering on social media, said there was also a positive side of the post.

“There was absolutely a lot of hate. It didn’t bother me, because there was also so much love between women, between moms on these comments… One of them would say, ‘I felt such guilt. I struggled with this for so many years.’ And other women would comment such beautiful support,” he said.

[From People]

Hopefully Tan closed his DMs after that. (It looks like he did because there’s no “message” button when I view his profile.) I don’t understand how people can hate on anyone for feeding their baby formula, particularly when neither parent can nurse. Regardless it’s a personal choice as to what’s best for the family and baby and it’s none of our f’ing business how people feed their babies. Do the nursing “advocates” sending mean messages want babies to starve? This is just absolutely ridiculous. The mommy/parent shaming is out of control.

Anyway I love Tan, his Masterclass on fashion really helped me, and I’m so happy for him and his husband. It sounds like their little family is doing wonderfully too.

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88 Responses to “Tan France got hate messages for posting a ‘fed is best’ message about formula”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    Oh lordy, anyone who has been on a moms message board over the past 10 or 15 years or so could have told him he was going to get hate mail for “fed is best.” It’s sad he even had to come out and say “of course breastmilk is the gold standard.”

    Feed your baby.

    I breastfed both of mine and I feel about breastfeeding kind of the same way I feel about abortion/pregnancy – after doing it, I don’t think anyone should be pressured into it if they don’t want.* There are lots of good formulas out there. In some ways its easier than formula, because you don’t have to bring bottles etc with you, but in some ways its harder because you have to deal with pumping, the amount of time it can take to feed the baby sometimes, not knowing for sure how much the baby is eating, and being the sole source of food for a newborn can be emotionally draining.

    So yeah, feed your baby. Formula, breastmilk, a combination of the two – just feed the baby.

    *I have always been pro-choice, but after being pregnant, two c-sections, etc, I have become even more pro-choice because pregnancy and childbirth can be so hard on your body and no one should have to do that if they don’t want, for whatever reason.

    • Betsy says:

      I was always pro-choice but was suuuuper smug about how easy breast feeding was going to be. HA. It did get easier, after having to be treated for thrush with all three kids (who knew fungus could cause that much pain?!), after spending hundreds on nipple shields and lactation consultants and nursing bras for my gigantic boobs. AND after one LC trying to convince us that my one week old NICU graduate didn’t need to be nursed until he figured out the latch in a few days. Yes, LCs can be full on insane people who are a-ok with causing dehydration and starvation in newborns.

      FED IS BEST.

      • Lucy says:

        FED IS BEST. I breastfed both my kids, the first was easy, the second was not. And I’ve had to talk the other moms down from the guilt over breastfeeding not working for them. I don’t know if breastfeeding trouble is just the trigger for PPD that would’ve happened anyway, but we’ve got to stop putting so much pressure on moms.

        Also, my bff had triplets, and they were in the NICU about 4 weeks. She had a toddler at home, and she was pumping seven times a day. And the lactation ladies at the hospital shamed her for getting six hours of sleep in a row instead of waking up to pump that 8th time. I was homicidal when I heard.

        There are fed is best lactation consultants, harder to find but worth it.

        Anyway. Support women, support moms.

      • BabyLawyerIncoming says:

        I just dealt with something similar – after I had my daughter it took a few days for my milk to come in (very common for first time moms). I was pumping around the clock (after not sleeping for two days because of labor!!) and barely getting any colostrum. The hospital gave us formula, which reduced my stress levels since I no longer had to worry about my baby going hungry. Then an LC walks in and tells us that formula was the cause of the obesity crisis in children (wtf??), that I didn’t do enough ahead of birth to prepare my body for breastfeeding, and that I needed to pump even more frequently. I felt like a total failure. Thank god for the amazing nurses who talked me down!

        For any moms out there – if you work with an LC, please find a supportive one who will help you feed your baby in the way that works best for you! I eventually found a super helpful group, and now my daughter is mostly breastfed, although we supplement with a bottle of formula at so her dad and I can take shifts at night. For me, the main advantage of breastfeeding is that when it is going well, it’s cheaper than formula, but that’s not always the case if you’re spending tons of money on consultants, shields, pillows, pump parts, etc.

        It’s great for our culture to support breastfeeding moms, but totally unhelpful and toxic to lean so hard into breastfeeding that we guilt parents for doing anything other than exclusively breastfeeding.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        That is absolutely insane and s/he (the LC) should be reported at least to her professional organization (if s/he belongs to one)!!! And if s/he is licensed by the state, reported to them also. And to the hospital where s/he has privileges.Who in the hell would say not to worry if your newborn doesn’t eat for a couple days??? My GOD. I would have had her head if I ever had that experience.

      • MaplePlains says:

        Yeeesss!!! Thrush with both kids, too. It was excruciating. Have also since found out that PCOS, a common endocrine condition that I have, often affects your supply. I pumped plus breastfed and still struggled with supply issues. I don’t have positive memories of the breastfeeding experience and heartily believe fed is best. Wish this had been the message when my kids were babies.

        And @becks1, I also feel even more strongly more pro-choice having had 2 kids. It’s changed my body permanently, leading to chronic conditions that I haven’t been able to resolve.

      • MOT says:

        I too had thrush and it is like shards of glass running through your breast when your milk lets down. I suffered for three months because I felt like I was hurting my baby if I switched to formula. Fed is beat!!

    • Anony83 says:

      Snuggling with my four-month-old baby also born by surrograte because of my health issues and it was SO helpful because very early in the process I was talking about the whole thing with my PCP and I said something like “I guess I need to learn about breast milk donation now” and she said “No you don’t.”

      It was such a simple thing but also SO powerful. Our daughter took a complex road into this world, formula was the LEAST of our concerns.

      Fed is best; my daughter is just fine. And this is why I haven’t joined a Mom’s Group though I keep blaming the pandemic.

      • cleak says:

        I love a good chill pediatrician! Ours was the same and it was so helpful! I didn’t make enough milk- no matter what I tried. My son lost a pound on his birth weight and the doctor told me it was time to formula feed. I went home from the appointment, made up a bottle, handed baby and bottle to husband and took a nap. The relief I felt was immense.
        I had noticed that after a week of bleeding nipples and constantly having either a pump or baby attached to my nipple that it was starting to trigger some post-partem depression and really interfering with my ability to bond with my baby. Once I could feed him without pain and guilt, I suddenly felt like I could enjoy him.

    • Vivica says:

      Just came to say: Yep. All. of. This.

    • Dierski says:

      Yes, this, completely, 100%. A fed baby, is a growing baby, is a loved baby, is a happy baby.

      This article truly made my day because I hadn’t heard that they had welcomed a baby this summer!!! I love Tan and these pictures are so beautiful. Warms my heart!

      As a mom of an almost 9-year old, who was (*GASP*) fully formula-fed, despite all of my best-laid plans to breastfeed… I just gotta say ignore the dissenters, trust your parental instincts, and feed your babies in the way that works best for you and your family, the bebes will grow into beautiful children and lovely adults no matter what their liquid-diet-infant-beginnings were.

    • Isabella says:

      Tan said that formula was the BEST. That’s what got him into trouble, not the fact that he uses formula (yawn).

      Did he never hear of the worldwide Nestles scandal, which was the direct result of doctors (and food companies) telling women that formula was BETTER than breast-feeding? Formula is a disaster in countries without clean drinking water. And that’s a lot of the world. Babies died.

      Formula is just fine. It’s NOT the best. I can’t believe anybody would say that. And, for the record, I used bottles and felt zero shame. But, then, I have access to clean water–and loathed breast feeding.

      • Thirtynine says:

        Maybe he just meant best for them. He explained they looked into everything and out of all the options actually available to them, this was best.

      • Kkat says:

        Wrong, he said it was best for them. he also said breast is the gold standard.

  2. Amy Bee says:

    I didn’t even know that surrogates provide breastmilk for the babies. I thought after birth that was the end of the relationship. Those nursing advocates are crazy. Sometimes mothers are unable to produce milk so what do these people expect them to do?

    • Anony83 says:

      It’s very unusual for a surrogate to pump long term after the birth. Some surrogates may choose to pump and donate or sell their breast milk and I’m sure there are some couples who agree with their surrogates about pumping, but yes it’s unusual. I’m sure particularly in situations where you don’t know the surrogate personally, but even then.

      My SIL lived out of state, we never would have asked her to pump for us, it would have been crazy. And terrible for her hormones – I’m sure the IVF clinic’s social worker would have recommended against it if we were considering it.

    • Sam the Pink says:

      Some surrogates pump for a short time after birth because of the antibody rich colostrum milk that comes in right after birth (and some pump to relieve the pressure that builds up during pregnancy). But I have never heard of a surrogate pumping long term. Donor milk is not an easy solution either – many donors are unscreened, which presents its own health risks. Formula is a perfectly valid option.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Amy Bee, my mother never produced breast milk so I never questioned other women’s choices. Also, I saw how heartbroken my mother was in the fact that she couldn’t so I stay clear to other women. I was lucky to to have that exposure as it opened my eyes immensely as to how women may see themselves as less worthy as a mother. A personal hell that no mother should have to be subjected to.

  3. Kristin says:

    I absolutely do not get the ridiculous shaming when it comes to formula feeding. My brother and I were both fed formula, not breastmilk, and we both grew up totally healthy and strong, no allergies or anything negative health wise. My mom tried to breastfeed but she literally could not produce milk. And she basically said my brother and I were both in danger of starving because her milk production was so low, so of course she chose formula. I am sick to death of the government and now social media constantly policing women’s bodies and our choices and shaming us for those choices.

    • ML says:

      Same with me–I was formula fed because my mother literally could not feed me. I was able to breastfeed my kids, but I did not sweat giving them a formula bottle every once in a while. Some people need to pay more attention to their own affairs and stfu about others: feeding babies formula is not child abuse!

    • Bryn says:

      Same here. I had to formula feed my daughter because I literally couldn’t produce milk. Husband and I were fairly young and the hospital insisted on breastfeeding. We took her home from the hospital nd she cried for two days straight. We were so tired and stressed. On the third day my husband came home from work with a bottle, formula and a warmer. I swear she never cried after until she was about 3 lol. Fed is better, and anybody that says different can f off.

  4. Tessa says:

    Man this bothers me! Fed is best. I formula feed my son. I tried breastfeeding and I hated it. It was exhausting. I didn’t make enough milk. So I researched formula because my brother in law actually conducted the studies. Breastmilk being gold standard is horribly overblown. Many of those studies were in the 80’s in Belarus where women would water down their formula because they couldn’t afford it and didn’t have great water to begin with. All the benefits of breastfeeding were then self reported and anecdotal. I’m not saying it isn’t best, but formula when done properly is just fine. And I do wish Tan had just stopped at fed is best. You don’t need to apologize if you simply don’t want to breastfeed.

  5. Murphy says:

    All 17,000 of those DM’ers can just fuck right off.

    Nutrition is the gold standard.

  6. Lorelei says:

    It is AMAZING to me that there are AT LEAST 17,000 people who saw this, were upset by it, so upset that they decided they needed to message this stranger with their opinion (because of course their opinion is the correct one), and had both the time (!) and the energy (!) to do all of this over one person’s Instagram post, and for good measure, was very nasty about it toward the person because…??

    I swear to god I’m so torn; 50% of the time I’m able to recognize all of the great things that the internet has made possible, and the other 50%, wish it never existed because apparently many people turn into animals when they’re anonymous, just them and their keyboard. It has brought out the worst in entire populations, jfc.

    • Size Does Matter says:

      That is exactly what I was thinking. Just because social media has given us this platform through which everyone can express their opinions doesn’t mean everyone needs to. I believe that’s why we are so divided on everything. People feel as if when they don’t comment they don’t exist. And yet here I am commenting…

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Lorelei, I am with you in regards to how poisonous SM has become. I am sick and tired of everyone feeling that they have the “right” to police your lifestyle!! Guess what, it’s none of you business FFS!!
      There are so many people who have this false sense that their way of you living your life is why you must listen to their POV. And when you don’t live your life in the manner that they agree with, then you are bombarded with hate!!

  7. Keekey says:

    Fortunately no one ever shamed me for formula feeding my babies because they would have gotten a F-you from my whole chest.

  8. Sigmund says:

    F*ck those people who messaged Tan.

    I’m pregnant, and up until recently, was gloriously unaware of the tension behind the breast milk/formula debate.

    I may not breast feed. I have a history of abuse. I’ve spent years in therapy, and I’m still in therapy, and Im still not sure that breastfeeding will be doable for me. I want to be the best mother to my child, and that includes not accidentally triggering my PTSD if I can help it.

    It makes me angry that people feel the need to bully Tan and other parents. It’s no one’s business how a baby is fed. Fed really IS best.

    • Dierski says:

      Congratulations on your pregnancy, @Sigmund! I totally agree with you that a fed baby is best, full and happy, and each family should just decide on doing what works for them.
      Good luck on your parenting journey! Its a wild ride, but its the most fun I’ve ever had. 😉

    • Kkat says:

      I was severely sexually abused as a child, and i worried about breast feeding before hand too for that reason.
      But for me the bond was so strong and it was almost like we were one person so i really didn’t have any issues.
      It’s like being pregnant, by the end your you want to look at my vagina too? sure. When I abhor having any kind of pelvic exam normally.

      I ended up pumping mostly and supplementing with formula, because that’s how it ended up working out with both of my kids. Please feel no guilt no matter what you end up doing.
      A Fed happy mama and baby is best

  9. Jillian says:

    Tan has a good message, fed is best. He always seemed so sweet and nurturing on Queer Eye, that’s a lucky baby

  10. Sam the Pink says:

    This just goes to show you the insanity some pro-nursing people buy into. Like, they’re two men – of course they are going to use formula! What is the alternative? To use donor milk for the whole of the time baby needs a bottle? That would get very expensive.

    Formula is fine. Plenty of humans out there received formula (some, like me, only got formula!) and we are fine. Actual researchers, who do actual studies, find that the benefits of breastfeeding are pretty minimal and tend to only last 1-2 years at best. And we shame families and drive women to near insanity for that?

    • Ana170 says:

      I read that as he got backlash from the anti-pro-breastfeed people. It’s a thing now that anytime anyone suggests breastfeeding is the best option, people get triggered on behalf of everyone that couldn’t or doesn’t want to. There’s ridiculousness on both sides.

  11. Gee says:

    I’m formula feeding my son because he was in the NICU and was too weak to breastfeed, so I never produced enough for him and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway since he didn’t have the strength to drink it. Now he is better (thankfully) and he is happy and healthy and bonus for me I got to go back to my happy pill much sooner than anticipated. The “breast is best” crew can go away – fed IS best, weather it is breast or formula. Parents need to find a way to keep their children happy and healthy and that is that.

  12. Krista says:

    I had breast reduction surgery a lifetime ago and it impacted my milk production. With my first, I tried everything – teas, pumps, shields, you name it. I felt like the biggest failure. She got some, but mostly formula. With the second, I still tried pumping, but didn’t stress (as much) over it. She also got some, less than her sister, but you know what? They are amazing creatures who I’m constantly in awe of. I would never, EVER judge anyone else for their choices. Yes, breast is great, but it often doesn’t work like you hoped. Or you have a life that doesn’t lend itself to breastfeeding – especially when we force moms to go back to work so soon after birth.

    I don’t know why people feel the need to judge others. Mind your own p’s and q’s.

  13. Aang says:

    I absolutely loved breastfeeding and breastfed through my second pregnancy and one of my kids didn’t wean until they were almost five. I considered it a luxury that I could take the time to sit down for sometimes 20-30 minutes whenever my kids wanted a meal. So many people for so many reasons can not to do that. Fed is definitely best and I would never judge anyone for formula feeding, even it’s because they just don’t feel like breastfeeding. That is a valid reason to formula feed. A woman’s body belongs to her and she doesn’t owe any of it to any one.

  14. JanetDR says:

    I think it’s really odd to jump on this decision for a surrogate birth during a freaking pandemic.

    • Kkat says:

      It’s something that is usually planned out long before the person actually get to the being pregnant part.
      You need to find one, it can take up to 6 months to prepare her body with hormones and testing.
      ! have a friend who has been a gestational carrier and it was 2 years in the planning with the couple.

  15. NCWoman says:

    I think the breast milk fanatics have built their entire identities around being a patriarchy-defined Mother. A Mother feeds her child from her own body, And they get enraged because being a Mother is the only thing they have in their lives that makes them feel good about themselves. So, essentially the idea of formula being OK threatens their entire worldview.

  16. Caitrin says:

    Parent of three here – fed IS best. I breastfed and pumped as long as I could, but work stress eventually dried up my milk supply, and I had to swallow the guilt over formula.

    Imagine that. Imagine having to deal with GUILT over feeding your baby because of the toxic positivity of sanctimommies.

  17. Willow says:

    Hours, only hours after both of my kids were born I was already having people telling me how to feed my newborn. First child, staff tried to talk me into formula because they couldn’t tell how much fluid he was getting. Baby started have fast heart beat, my husband panics and they convinced him to convince me to ‘at least’ give the baby one bottle. Still makes me mad. Amazingly, baby would switch back and forth between bottle and breast no problem. So he always got one bottle and the rest breast until weaned. Oh yeah, no heart problems.

    The second, hours old, wouldn’t latch, older nurse tried to threatened that they would have to bottle feed him if I couldn’t get him to eat. I just stared at her. Shifts change, new younger nurse, wasn’t worried at all, it takes time, baby is healthy, good weight. Guess what? Eating in 10 minutes. Because now I’m calm and getting tips from a helpful nurse.
    Bottom line, unless it’s literally life or death, hospital staff should be supporting a parent’s decision and helping them feed their baby, bottle or breast.

    Fed is best.
    Stop parent shaming.

    • Molly says:

      La Leche has an iron grip on hospitals and birthing centers. I had an extremely traumatic birth, emergency surgery immediately after in the wee hours … I was ROADKILL in that hospital bed. My husband told the nursery to feed the baby, seeing as how I wasn’t going to be in any condition to do so for a bit.

      The response — per my birthing center’s “agreement” with La Leche — was a “nursing consultant” dispatched to my room to lecture me that “HUMANS ARE THE ONLY ANIMALS WHO FEED THEIR BABIES THE MILK OF OTHER ANIMALS! IT’S UNNATURAL!” She repeated several times that I would DESPERATELY regret it if I let one drop of formula pass my baby’s lips.

      So I felt like crap, tried and tried and tried to nurse, and by one week old, my kid had dropped a full pound and the pediatrician was checking “failure to thrive” on her birth chart.

      I felt like the worst mother alive. What should have been a time of bonding with my child, and recovering from the considerable trauma of her birth, turned into a battle against my own body (and hers) because of the manipulative meddling of the “breast is best!” lunatics.

      • Sam the Pink says:

        LLL is genuinely dangerous. On their actual website, they “advise” mothers on psychiatric medications to try to “work with” their doctors to find “alternatives” that will allow them to breastfeed. That is intensely irresponsible advice. If a woman is on a medication that she likes, that benefits her, she should stay on it, even if that means formula is called for. No mother, ever, should feel any pressure to risk her mental health for breastmilk.

        Seriously, it is not magic tiddy milk. It’s not worth all this fuss.

  18. Jessi says:

    Babies have actually starved to death in America in “baby-friendly” hospitals that enforce breastfeeding-only philosophies.

    • Concern Fae says:

      This. When you look at the 20th c fall in infant mortality, nobody credits the introduction of safe and nutritious formula, but they totally should.

      What’s worse is that we could be giving babies better formula, that matches the changes that a human mother’s milk goes through, but it’s one of those things where nobody wants to do the necessary studies because it would be such a shitshow.

  19. ME says:

    This is so stupid. Just feed the baby ! Why does it matter if it’s breast or formula? Both are good.

    • goofpuff says:

      Agreed. The decision of whether a baby gets formula or breast really makes no difference to ANYONE and harms NO ONE. That the baby is healthy is the most important.

      For some reason for people their whole identity is wrapped up in breastfeeding and something they can feel superior about to others. I’ve done both (breast fed and formula fed) and my kids are just fine. I really didn’t see a benefit either way. My formula fed child is just as smart and capable as my exclusively breastfed child. They get sick at the same rate.

  20. Lady Keller says:

    I think I may be the only parent around who has been breast feeding shamed. My in laws have some bizarre aversion to breat feeding, they are adamantly pro formula. The amount of grief I got was insane. Feed your babies however you need. At the end of the day all that matters is they have full bellies and a loving home.

    When you consider that there are so many neglected, hungry and abused kids out there who if they get formula or are breast fed. Someone cares enough to feed them or has the resources to do so and that’s a big win.

  21. Grace says:

    I saw that discussion unfold at the time, and this is a misrepresentation of what actually occurred. This is what he said, in a post sponsored by a (high-priced) formula company:

    “It’s time to evolve the conversation on how we feed our babies. Let’s start by sharing and supporting every kind of feeding journey. Why now? It’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, where one type of feeding is put on a social pedestal and those who can not or chose not to are made to feel second best for formula feeding. I understand AND agree that BreastMilk is the gold standard. I have never, and would never suggest otherwise. Also, no one should ever feel guilty for feeding their baby formula. “How is feeding going?” as opposed to “How is Breast Feeding going”. A fed baby is what matters most.”

    End of quote! My personal feeling is that I am very happy for Tan and his family, and of course a fed, healthy baby is what is important. However! Choosing to post this during National Breastfeeding Month, which was created to support those women who are trying to breastfeed and who don’t always have legal, workplace, or even family support to do so, seemed like a cynical move. Especially when the endgame of this (and any sponsored post) was to point readers to the formula company’s product. To be honest, the whole thing seemed designed to generate conflict among women and raise viewership/engagements– all to sell formula.

    While I have no idea what was in his DMs, I did not see ANY posts criticizing Tan for using formula– only for the timing/sponsorship of the post.

    • Sam the Pink says:

      Please. It’s not a jab at breastfeeding. Um…it’s an ad featuring two dads. They are pretty clearly not breastfeeding. Do you not believe that families that fall outside the norm of having a birth mother present should be talked to about infant feeding?

      You forget that for many, formula is a foregone conclusion. For families without mothers (like Tan), for families built through adoption, families where mom is present but has a communicable disease, families where mom may have had breast removal/reduction, families where mom is an assault survivor, etc. Your whole argument is premised on the idea that talking about formula – during an arbitrarily designated month for breastfeeding, no less – somehow diminishes breastfeeding. In which case, keep reaching for the straws. Telling people that they have options does not diminish anything. And yes, it’s a corporation sponsorship, and that does not bother me. Formula companies make a necessary product, and I’m not opposed to them promoting said product, especially to families that actually rely on it.

    • Katherine says:

      I agree. I was irritated with the post when it came out because of the timing, not because he chose to formula feed in general. There’s a weird oppression competition when it comes to feeding choices. Everyone has the sense they are the most targeted by the other group. My own personal experience I breastfed one baby for 18 months, and one I struggled mightily and ended up formula feeding. Both happy and healthy elementary schoolers now. But I will say I encountered far more judgment in breastfeeding. Told a few times to cover up, asked to not nurse in front of children, and had to fight for every pumping break I took at work. Breastfeeding awareness week is an important time to acknowledge that reality and support nursing people and a man advocating for formula (and being paid to do it) using that week as context really irked me. On an app that censors images of breastfeeding no less.

      I love Tan, I’m thrilled for him. I agree fed is best. I agree there are extremists on all sides, lactivists included. I wish he hadn’t been inundated with hate messages. That said his post was tone deaf.

      • ABW says:

        He’d just had a baby. Was he supposed to wait until it wasn’t Special Boob Month?

        I’m a foster mom. All of my foster kids would have been dead from drug exposure had their moms breastfed. You’re DAMNED right I gave them formula, thanks be to WIC for paying for it. Anyone who gave me a hassle was asked how they liked babies ingesting heroin.

      • Katherine says:

        I mean yeah he could have waited? Was There was some pressing need for him to share his thoughts with us? It’s a WEEK not a month. And he didn’t have to say anything at all (though I guess when a pay day is involved). This isn’t some noble choice he made, he’s a gay cis male parent, and it’s incredibly uncommon for surrogates to pump, and they shouldn’t be expected to. His framing of this as a decision he and his partner came to is disingenuous. 99% chance they were always going to formula feed. Contrary to the majority view in these threads lots of breastfeeding people do face horrible judgment and discrimination (like actual workplace discrimination and impacts to job security and income, not hurt feelings from activists). Again speaking as a parent with experience with both forms of feeding I agree fed is best. But y’all are naive if you think this was an honest and ethical move by a massive for profit formula company during a week meant to highlight the struggles of and advocate for breastfeeding people.

      • Grace says:

        I agree Katherine. I sadly see this a a cynical ploy to pit women against each other and stir up controversy– and thus interest in this brand. And hey, it clearly worked!

        I also agree that there seems to be an oppression competition when it comes to feeding choices. My own experience: after breastfeeding two children and bottlefeeding a third, I encountered much more discrimination whilst breastfeeding. And frankly, when it comes to workplace protections, only one of these methods has been legally oppressed in this country, and it is not bottlefeeding. That is why this became a feminist issue– to advocate for policies that would level the playing field for ALL moms.

        That being said, not sure why there is such vitriol here against breastfeeding moms– while people here are saying those who choose to nurse are holier than thou, those aren’t the people I see posting today. Ideally, we would ALL respect and support each other’s choices. It is sad to see so many women here bashing each other, and it is even more disheartening that the formula company that coined the phrase “fed is best” knew exactly what they were doing, as they step over all these riled up women and laugh all the way to the bank.

        (And please keep in mind that this particular formula, according to the NYTimes’ Wirecutter, costs nearly four times more than the other formulas that column recommends. So, this post was not even promoting formula in general– it was promoting an especially expensive formula.)

        And once people distill an awareness month into dismissive phrases like “Magical Tiddy Week” and “Special Boob Month, ” I realize that we’ve entered Trump territory ! I’m no longer interested in participating in this “discussion.”

      • Sam the Pink says:

        Katherine, you are very dismissive. Lactivism is resulting in a lot more than “hurt feelings.” Have you missed all the articles coming out showing a significant rise in infant falls in hospitals because medicated, exhausted women are expected to keep their babies with them at all times in the name of nursing? Or the noted rise in infant dehydration and jaundice because mothers are actively discouraged from giving formula to their babies? Or the research suggesting that pressure to breastfeed is contributing to higher rates of postpartum depression? You come off as supremely arrogant and condescending.

        And I’m sorry, but we can talk about formula during Magical Tiddy Week. We can. Tan can discuss it whenever he wants. He is a father of a new baby who can talk about whatever he wants. He is somebody with a unique situation and perspective – he is part of a family that does not have a mother in it and thus, his is a family that needs formula to exist. Dismissing that is a slimy attempt at erasure for all the families who need formula to get by. He does not owe you, or the week, or anybody else, anything. Formula is a necessity for many, and thus, companies that produce it provide an important product. I don’t shade him for using a corporate sponsorship. You seem bothered that formula as a product is being legitimized more than anything else.

      • Molly says:

        “Activists” pushing their agenda on vulnerable, exhausted, sometimes post-surgical or very sick people in birth recovery cause more than just “hurt feelings.”

        I had the formula option WITHHELD FROM ME at the urging of a “consultant” (and per an agreement between La Leche and my birthing center), was pressured, pushed, and shamed into nursing when my body was decidedly not up to the task, and my baby and I both suffered for it.

        To call him disingenuous and smugly presume “they were always going to formula feed” is just more of the same judge-y garbage. He very clearly said their surrogate “couldn’t pump.” When, how or why they and the surrogate made that choice isn’t just none of your business, it’s also irrelevant.

        “He didn’t have to say anything at all.” As Sam already very capably pointed out, two men raising a baby together taking the opportunity to raise awareness, both within the gay community and without, is a valuable public service.

        That you seem to think they should’ve just kept their mouth shut on that front says perhaps a little more about you than you may have intended.

      • Katherine says:

        Oh stop it y’all out here acting like this was a noble testimonial. He was PAID BY A FORMULA COMPANY. He didn’t have to say anything at all DURING BREASTFEEDING AWARENESS WEEK is my point. And paid by a formula company to do so. He can talk all he wants about his family and his choices and I like I’ve said multiple times I’m thrilled for him. But I’d have a lot more respect for this if he’d just talked about his choices without the sponsorship. I’m shocked people don’t see how manipulative and tone deaf this way for him to accept the timing of this spon con. People are not discriminated against for bottle feeding. Full stop. (Legal discrimination not judgment) I am aware breastfeeding can be intensely pushed. I am aware that can be harmful to vulnerable new moms. I myself struggled to breastfeed my second child and felt like a failure when I switched to formula feeding. I 100% acknowledge that pain. But I encountered far more challenges from society including my actual job at risk due to breastfeeding. Workplace laws have improved but they are not fully protective yet and the week is an important time to talk about that. I would love to see a world where every new mom In the hospital receives the support they need, physical, mental, and judgment free feeding choice. By tan’s post caused infighting in his comments and obviously infighting on these threads. So no I don’t think he should have said anything and sponsored formula during breastfeeding awareness week. You really didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to anticipate how that was going to go. But I’m not the one name calling on these posts so perhaps you all should take your own advice think about if this revealed more about YOU then you intended it to. By the way wild we call folks smug and condescending while BEING smug and condescending. Wild.

      • Molly says:

        Oh, give it a rest.

        Multiple federal laws (some going back decades) require, under the Fair Labor and Standards Act, that employers provide nursing mothers with time, privacy, and suitable accommodations to express breast milk.

        The Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act requires that public buildings provide members of the general public accommodations for nursing babies and expressing milk.

        ALL FIFTY STATES, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have passed clear and specific laws that permit women to breastfeed in any location, public or private.

        It would appear the laws are more caught up than you are.

        But you’re right. Two gay men might have pocketed some money to “advertise” formula as an option in the gay surrogate/adoption community, so they absolutely deserved 17,000 pieces of electronic hate mail.

        I mean, I totally see your point … this venal and calculated undermining of the Holy Week of Breastfeeding advocacy could not go unchallenged.

        Newsflash: You don’t HAVE to “respect his choices.” Nobody asked you to. And Tan’s post didn’t cause infighting. People who defend hate-mailing homophobes and nipple-nazis did.

    • Molly says:

      How is it you haec “no idea” what was in his DM’s? He SAID what was in them. Thousands upon thousands of hateful and vile messages about CHOOSING FORMULA OVER BREAST MILK.

      So … nice try, I guess.

      Formula companies have every right and RESPONSIBILITY to advertise and inform, especially in areas where La Leche is in league with hospitals and birthing centers to limit new mothers’ access to formula immediately post-birth. (And please, do everyone a favor, and don’t bother to deny this happens — it happened to me.)

  22. Eating Popcorn says:

    So, if women turn on a man, who obviously cannot breastfeed, what are they doing to other women?

    • Turtledove says:

      Exactly. Honestly, just look at this post.

      There 100% IS a prejudice against formula that is dngerous and needs to be squashed for all the reasons people on this post cited. (I knew going in that i was not going to breastfeed and one of my friends warned me that LCs in the hospital could sometimes be bullies, and that I should be prepared to be very firm with my intentions from the get go)

      But breastfeeding moms do get judgement as well. And here we are, a site with what seems like a majority of women, all fighting amongst ourselves over these very issues.

      We need to support parents, and fight parent-shaming of all kinds.

  23. Margot says:

    He looks so sweet with that baby! Congrats to them. Fed is best!

  24. Littlered says:

    I follow him on IG. This was a while ago, I read the comments. The vast majority were not ‘hateful’. There was disappointment however that he posted it during National Breastfeeding month saying that it’s purpose was to put breast milk on a pedastal and shame formula users, which it absolutely is not. Plus this was a sponsored formula post so the whole thing was tone deaf and ill- timed (imo)
    FYI No shame/opinion either way here on how baby is fed

  25. Same says:

    It says something of the stigma that still remains that even when we explain — I used formula because x,y,z… we are explaining when we don’t have to.

    I didn’t breast feed my children because I didn’t want to, I never felt compelled to try it and the thought of pumping didn’t appeal to me at all.
    I was born in the late 60’s and my Mom told me she never considered it either because it wasn’t a thing.
    My bottle kids are pretty cool humans.

    • Molly says:

      “I didn’t breast feed my children because I didn’t want to.”

      I wanna be you when I grow up.

  26. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    I cannot begin to fathom shaming a new parent (or not even new) about their feeding choice. How utterly destructive and disgusting. I nursed my first (she latched great at the hospital and wouldn’t at home- thank god for the formula the state automatically delivered {just before she was born} that first night) until I couldn’t anymore bc of pain when I got pregnant again (she was 2 1/4)- it was a wonderful experience. Then I had my twin sons and simply could not keep my supply up. It was heartbreaking, but again, thank god for formula. Parenting is HARD, especially that first time around.

  27. Scal says:

    I got shamed for pumping a d feeding the baby from a bottle and not straight from the b. Because I guess working mothers aren’t a thing 🙄

    Pumping was the woooooorrrrsssst. I will not judge anyone that doesn’t want to do that and switches to formula. A happy mom is a happy baby.

    Fed is best

  28. Lionel says:

    I’ve always maintained that the late 20th century pendulum swing to militant breast-is-best messaging was nothing more than a panicked, reactionary response to women’s lib. It sure doesn’t seem seem to be fueled by any real concern for maternal/child health.

    • Molly says:


      I remember years ago, when I was pregnant myself, asking my mother-in-law if she nursed my husband. Her horrified “NO!” surprised me, until my own mother explained: It was very much NOT the thing to do during that time. In the late ’60s, early ’70s, fewer American women nursed their babies than ever recorded – apparently, it was actually considered by many to be low-class and a little gross.

      My mom, who had eight kids across nearly 25 years, breastfed every one of us, but as she always said, she didn’t really have a choice because she couldn’t afford not to.

      • Anne Call says:

        Yes, as formula became prevalent in the 20th century, breastfeeding your baby was considered something that poorer families had to do. It’s interesting how the pendulum has swung to breastfeeding more prevalent in the upper classes and probably more formula in blue collar families, where they have to get back to work ASAP and don’t have the luxury of long maternity leaves. My mother only used formula and I think she was a bit put off by my insistence of breastfeeding my babies in the 1980’s. I never loved it (got infection and messed up my shoulder) and was happy to stop both times. My doctor daughter in law had a horrible time with first baby and baby lost weight until she was convinced to supplement with formula. I was surprised at how guilty she felt about that.

    • Thirtynine says:

      Agreed. Thank you, Lionel.

  29. Billie says:

    Just want to jump in after all the “some women can’t produce milk” comments to remind people that formula can also be used by women who CAN produce milk but

    – whose work situation does not allow for pumping and storage;
    – whose postpartum depression makes the task difficult;
    – who choose to be on antipsychotics and antidepressants to combat the mental illness that they risk experiencing rather than breastfeeding;
    – who find breastfeeding uncomfortable/unpleasant/painful.

    Those are all valid reasons too and lets not exclude them from the fed-is-best conversation. Sometimes you can produce milk but will still use formula, and that’s fine– you’re not a bad parent.

  30. Molly says:

    You can reason with the Taliban easier than trying to talk any sense whatsoever with a crusading La Leche radical.

    Baby’s gotta eat, for chrissake.

  31. GandalfTheMeh says:

    I was born 8 weeks early (in the 80’s!!) and literally could not breast feed. I did just fine with formula.

    I also work in pharmacy and there are all kinds of healthy options in formula now. Fed is definitely best and screw anyone that thinks otherwise.

  32. ooshpick says:

    I couldn’t hate more the absolute certainty with which some people espouse their views. Difference is beautiful. Different values, different possibilities, different choices, different realities. I know we are in end times and all but please! the incredible wonderful moment he and his little family are experiencing and he has to deal with that shit? I mean family is a statement of continuity. He and his partner have survived and loved and brought a baby into the world and that is a miracle, not just for them but for all of us. Racism and homophobia and ignorant hatred. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I love this family.

  33. Gracie says:

    Lol I’m on my third and final pregnancy so literally don’t care what anyone has to say anymore, but I feel bad for him and his partner – first-timers are more vulnerable to the mommy mafia. I had LCs make me feel horrible with my first, and by the second I knew I wanted to pump exclusively. Not sure what I’ll do for #3 – just depends how things shake out with the delivery/recovery. Breastfeeding was very painful for me and what was worse was everyone telling me I’d get used to it. I didn’t. Look at a kindergarten class and try to figure out who was fed which way. You can’t. Love is what matters.

  34. Celina says:

    As a parent who has breastfed for over 25 years, FEED YOUR BABY! Formula is fantastic! The advantages of breastfeeding are way overhyped where there is access to potable water. The advantages are pretty negligible once you’ve factored in things like socioeconomic status and other privileges.

    Also conventional formulas available at the grocery store are perfectly great. Don’t need organic.

  35. Veronica S. says:

    The kid is living with well off parents in an industrialized nation with access to lifelong healthcare. They will be fine, even without the immune benefits of early breast milk. Formula is more of an issue when it’s an expense that exceeds the family’s budget or given in areas where the parents may not have continuous access to the necessary product or clean water. Lots of human bodies are surviving just fine on non optimal diets. It’s exactly why we are adaptable omnivores in the first place.

  36. Emma says:

    Jeez I can’t imagine the kind of hate mail he got. I’m guessing a large portion was homophobic. Sick.

    Some of the comments here are saying breastfeeding is inherently anti-feminist and a “reaction against feminism.” Please don’t. A lot of people choose it for many good reasons. Just as others choose formula for their own good reasons.

    This doesn’t have to be a war. Support women making their own educated safe choices.

    • Thirtynine says:

      I don’t think it is breastfeeding per se, Emma, that was mentioned as a reaction against feminism, but the surge in the militant pressure on women to breastfeed – that breastfeeding is the only acceptable choice- which coincided with a certain point in history. It is that pressure and consequent denial of other equally valid choices for women which can be regarded as anti-feminist, I think.

      • Lionel says:

        Thank you Thirtynine! That’s exactly what I meant. There’s nothing feminist or anti-feminist about freely choosing to breastfeed, whether it’s because you have the luxury of time and space, or because you don’t have the luxury of extra money and/or access to clean drinking water, or for any reason in between including that it’s just what you’ve darn well chosen to do with your body. It’s the pressure, often militant and sometimes ill-informed, to do so when you’ve freely chosen otherwise that is anti-feminist. IMO it’s just as potentially harmful as predatory formula marketing practices (which are also egregious!)

    • Molly says:

      No, that is NOT what “some of the comments here are saying,” mine included. Thirtynine and Lionel cleared that up quite nicely, but I’m not in the mood to let someone deliberately distort a discussion I participated in with mealy-mouthed both-sides-ism.

      We were VERY clearly referring to the cultural pendulum swing between breastfeeding being wildly unpopular in 60s and 70s America to being to THE-thing-to-do juggernaut it is now. DOCTORS found breastfeeding unnecessary, even distasteful, and were not supportive of women doing it.

      The holier-than-thou militant piling on that happens to women who —- HORRORS —- might actually choose NOT to breastfeed their baby is antifeminist. La Leche’s role in withholding formula from young mothers post-birth is antifeminist. And nobody in their right mind would or could, in any good faith, argue that it’s not.

  37. Mcmmom says:

    My mom was a La Leche League coach and I remember going to LLL meetings when I was little. The women in my family are all big supporters of breastfeeding. We didn’t eat Nestle products in our house when I was growing up because my mom was so angry at them for shaming women in other nations into using formula.

    So – I say all of this to give context that I was VERY pro-breastfeeding. But…all of my kids were adopted, so breastfeeding was not an option for me. I never even considered donated breast milk (my oldest is nearly 20, so I don’t even know if that was a thing back then). We had to use formula.

    My mom was awesome about it – she didn’t even blink an eye that of course we would use formula – but she did slyly complement the formula that we used by saying, “hmmm…your babies don’t smell bottlefed” (because she always said breastfed babies smelled better 🤷🏻‍♀️).

    The thing that was hard for me is that I was so sad that I couldn’t breastfeed. I did lots of “kangarooing” and skin to skin contact to relocate the intimacy that my kids would have had if I had been able to breastfeed. IOne of my friends (who never had kids) said something like, “oh I’m so glad you’re not having to go through [breastfeeding]” as if it was a gift. For me, it wasn’t – I felt like I was missing out on something I really supported and it was like my friends couldn’t see that it was a loss that I was mourning. My kids did great and it’s all good, but it was definitely hard for me – much harder than not being pregnant, which is probably a bit unusual.

  38. Ania says:

    Well, hard lesson for Tan – you became a parent, people will judge your every choice.

    There is this view on parenthood that one „mistake” will ruin your child, breastfeeding is just a start. You carry them? Too much, will get too attached. You let them sleep with you? They will stay there forever. Your 1,5 yo doesn’t use a potty yet? Well, mine was!

    My husband finally told me that nobody goes to uni with a dummy and still sleeping with parents and it was such a relief for me because I was letting it get to my head.

    And I second what many people here wrote – after pregnancy, csection, breastfeeding (all on the easy side) – nobody should be forced to do it against their will. It’s difficult even if you really want it.

  39. Xantia says:

    Fed isn’t best – supported parents is best. I really don’t care how Tan and his husband choose to feed their child and I wish them well, but I do care if he’s going to be a paid spokesperson for a formula company. Abuse is wrong, but taking money for spon con is something that is legit for others to discuss and comment on.

    He was such a smart choice for the formula company, he’s so warm and kind on Queer Eye. He has a lot of influence. And he’s monetised that while trying to sell his followers an expensive formula. He’s not a new parent simply sharing stories about feeding his child, he’s an advertiser trying to sell us something. And that’s what I think a lot of people have reacted to.