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Twitter storm over 'official' Swedish breasts

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Twitter storm over 'official' Swedish breasts
The @sweden curator used this image, not of herself, to start the debate
14:15 CET+01:00
A Swedish woman serving as the curator of Sweden's official Twitter account has posted pictures of herself breastfeeding and whipped up an online storm just days after her takeover of the account.

The woman, Natashja Blomberg, refers to herself as a feminist and socialist who “refuses to conform to ideals” and who “talks excessively about gender roles and their expectations”.

Using Sweden's official Twitter account, @sweden, the self-confessed lover of the microblogging site has been regularly tweeting her views on gender-related topics and people have been listening – and giving overwhelmingly positive feedback, she told The Local.

On Wednesday, Blomberg began posting pictures from her personal breast feeding experiences.

The first came directly after a picture of a woman with a low cut top with the caption, “Anyone offended by this picture?”

Soon followed a photo of Blomberg herself with an infant feeding at her breast, and the caption: “How about this one then?”

Shortly after, a tweet was posted with an image of two babies feeding at once.

“I also tandem breastfed the brats. Great for sibling bonding!” she wrote, followed by the hashtag #breastfeedingriot.

The pictures roused a heated internet conversation, leading people from around the world to share their views and habits when it comes to breastfeeding in public, and Blomberg has embraced the opportunity to rid Sweden of such ignorance.

“Eating is a basic need and what the woman is doing is not showing off her tits or trying to offend, she is just trying to feed her baby,” Blomberg told The Local.

“Breastfeeding has enough hassle and stress surrounding it all WITHOUT having to worry about some stiff person getting offended. And people get offended by everything these days, its not up to them to set the rules.

“People get offended by homosexuals or fat people in skimpy clothing. Should they be able to demand that they hide under blankets or stay at home? That kind of attitude puts women fifty years back and confines them in their homes”.

However, even though the tweets are receiving a fair share of positive response, Sweden has been proven recently to be overly sensitive on the issue.

In a story published in October by The Local, a survey revealed that three out of four young Swedes think that breastfeeding mothers ought to keep their tops on in restaurants, bars and on public transport.

While the study showed that up to 85 percent of Swedes believe breastfeeding to be a good idea, the majority stated that it is an act better kept private.

According to the study, the least appropriate places to breastfeed is in a restaurant (20 percent), a bar (24 percent) or on the public transport system (18 percent).

However, Blomberg claims she has only once come across a person in public who was offended by her bare breasts, and advised The Local that a “friendly ‘fuck off’” should be enough to deter anyone taking issue. But, the majority of people are tolerant, she says, or at least too polite to mention it.

Meanwhile, Sweden's Twitter account has been dubbed by promoters as the most democratic Twitter account in the world and has over 27,000 followers – a figure that has been steadily growing since Blomberg took the helm this week.

And the authorities at Sweden.se are beaming with the success of the project, and with Blomberg in particular.

“We are happy with Natashja as @sweden. She’s representing herself, she’s true to her normal Twitter feed, as we ask all curators to be. We want curators that like to debate and that like to have a dialogue with their followers,” said Inger Ridderstolpe, project manager with Sweden.se to The Local.

“Natashja answers all questions she gets and she does it with humour and self-respect. She is not afraid of speaking her mind and she does it! Equality is something Sweden like to promote and we’re happy that she does it in her way”.

While the actual influence of Blomberg's tweeting is impossible to measure, she continues to speak her mind, and in terms of breastfeeding at least, has some advice for those who don’t support her ideals.

“Mothers, keep feeding without shame and without covering up! Anyone who doesn’t like it can put a blanket over THEIR head," she wrote.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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