Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Public Relations and Advertising BA


Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Fei Xue, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism


Although breastfeeding is known to promote both physical and emotional health in both infant and mother, many women are hesitant to breastfeed in public due to perceived attitudes toward public breastfeeding. This research explores the relationship between frequent exposure to sexuality in mass media and people's positions regarding breastfeeding. It was hypothesized that sexualized portrayals of the female body perpetuated in mass media would negatively impact individuals’ attitudes toward breastfeeding. No significant correlation was found between media exposure and negative attitude toward public breastfeeding. However, a few interesting results were observed. Individuals who responded positively to sexual media were more likely to associate female breasts with sex, which in turn influenced perceptions of public breastfeeding. Differences between male and female respondents were also reported. Findings are supported by and contribute to numerous other studies examining individual and societal perceptions regarding breastfeeding. Discussion suggests opportunities such as building awareness of and familiarity with breastfeeding, in order to decrease negative perceptions, and to promote confidence among women in their maternal choices, ultimately increasing rates of breastfeeding. The implications, as well as limitations, of the study were also discussed.