When a Times Square digital ad featuring cookbook author Molly Baz made its debut, I imagine a lot of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers felt seen and celebrated. The ad featured Baz, who is pregnant, wearing an unbuttoned shirt and holding two lactation cookies over her breasts. This is fitting: The ad was for Swehl, a brand that creates breastfeeding essentials, and was meant to advertise lactation cookies.

It’s refreshing to see a product meant to help mothers breastfeed that actually acknowledges the role a woman’s body plays in that process. Baz’s body and the incredible work it's doing — of growing a human, of preparing to nourish that human — deserve to be spotlighted in this way. The ad wasn’t just a cheeky, creative way to spotlight the product; it was also an important, highly visible step in the normalization of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is, quite simply, a method many moms utilize to keep their children alive and growing and fed. It’s not sexual or scandalous. It doesn’t need to be done in private or even underneath a cover. It can be done anywhere — in fact, breastfeeding mothers are legally allowed to nurse anywhere they’re allowed to be. Yet many people don’t see it this way…which, of course, isn’t surprising. After all, aren’t most things that relate to the realities of women’s bodies often censored and stigmatized?

Naturally, the ad in question brought out said censorship and stigmatization in a big way. So big, in fact, that the digital ad was removed and has reportedly been flagged for review by Clear Channel Outdoor, an advertising company.

Baz posted a screenshot of an article announcing the billboard’s removal — and her caption perfectly articulates what’s so problematic about this type of censorship.

“turns out these big titties and preggo belly were a little too much for times square. extremely disappointed and yet not at all surprised that our cheeky little breastfeeding empowerment campaign was deemed “innapropriate” by @clearchanneloutdoor and our billboard removed after just 3 days,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “i’ve done a lot of campaigns in my day but as soon as my pregnant belly and breasts got involved things apparently got real uncomfy for some folks.”

Baz went on to point out the outright hypocrisy of it all, noting that other Times Square billboards feature women in lingerie — images that, in Baz’s words, satiate the male gaze.

Baz’s points sum up our problematic treatment of women’s bodies: They’re viewed as decorative objects of sorts. We encourage them to show their bodies for everyone else’s consumption, to be pretty and sexy and sell goods, but we ask women to tuck those same bodies away when it comes to showcasing the realities of how they function. 

Baz’s story is definitely not the only relevant one in this conversation, of course. In a PEOPLE interview, Rumer Willis recently shared that she never expected it to be “that big of a thing” when she posted about her breastfeeding journey, for example. And then of course there are the legions of everyday women, women whose images don’t appear on billboards, who have felt this same type of scrutiny and shame when simply… feeding their babies.

Anyone who has ever received a nasty look while nursing in public, or been told to pump in a bathroom at work, or — taking breastfeeding out of the equation — been made to feel like they can’t talk about their period pain or their fertility struggles or their digestive issues without it being “TMI” has felt some form of this. 

Our attitudes towards women’s bodies encourage them to only act as visual objects, not as functioning things that keep us alive. We’re not allowed to hint at our bodies doing things we’ve been conditioned to find “messy” or “gross” or “indecent”. And that leads us to a place where the image of a largely exposed body is fair game…unless we include a reference to that body lactating.

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"It's super disheartening and infuriating to me that my, kind of, first public foray into being a public mother was one that was deemed inappropriate," Baz said of the censorship, according to ABC News.

We stand with Baz here, no question. It’s fitting that an ad for lactation cookies from a company created for the purpose of supporting breastfeeding moms would allude to the natural reality of breastfeeding. It’s a celebration of that reality, and a nod to the bodies that make that miraculous, magical thing happen. It isn’t dirty or inappropriate or a visual no one needs to see. And when we treat it as such, we’re essentially telling women their bodies are only acceptable when viewed through the lens of the male gaze.

Zara Hanawalt is a freelance journalist and mom of twins. She's written for outlets like Parents, MarieClaire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Motherly, and many others. In her (admittedly limited!) free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, trying new restaurants, and traveling with her family.