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(all images courtesy Portraits 35)

When Hannah McFaull gave birth to her first child, she felt like she had lost a bit of herself. A punk from a family of successful musicians whose husband runs an indie record label in the Bay Area, McFaull remembers nursing her infant daughter and wishing that she could put on one of her many band t-shirts, don boots and pre-mom jeans, and spike her hair. She struggled with nursing and with her identity. “Part of being a punk is you express yourself through your outward aesthetic — hair color and tattoos and what you wear is a big part of your self-expression,” McFaull said. “All of a sudden I was having to renegotiate who I was as an adult, as a human, and as a mom. All of the nursing clothes, none of it felt like me.”

McFaull lamented about her issues with maternity and nursing clothes to her friend April Hobbs, an accomplished dressmaker. Hobbs said it wouldn’t be difficult to add hidden zippers to some of McFaull’s old show shirts to create easy-access, punk breastfeeding tees. A few years and several kids later, And Out Come The Boobs, was born in November 2017. Inspired by the title of Rancid’s 1995 album “ … And Out Come The Wolves,” Boobs upcycles gently used punk, metal, and rock t-shirts, outfitting them with inverted zippers so nursing moms can easily feed their children while still looking hardcore. The shirts feature logos and album art from groups like Black Flag, The Subhumans, Gang of Four, and, of course, Rancid. Some have zippers down the middle, while others have two along each breast. “We definitely appreciate how much work an artist or band puts into [making] a t-shirt with artwork, and that’s really important to us,” McFaull said. “We didn’t want to disrespect that work. The decision on how to customize the shirt is based on how we can protect the design as much as possible.”

And Out Come The Boobs have sold 30–40 shirts on Etsy and are planning a new series featuring Operation Ivy, Bob Marley, and some “nerdcore geek stuff” like Star Wars, Dr. Who, and Stranger Things. Hobbs and McFaull have received positive feedback from other punk moms as well as musicians, including those in New York hardcore band Reagan Youth and The Dickies, whose members have partners who are nursing. The t-shirts also add to a growing conversation about breastfeeding in public and the struggles of many nursing mothers. “Everyone’s nursing journey is different and it’s not this beautiful idealized portrayal we see it as; it’s really hard work,” McFaull said, adding that older parents who had to “hide” breastfeeding have been particularly responsive to the shirts. “In general, nursing clothing has been branching,” she noted. “That kind of attitude of I’m gonna do what I need to do for me and my baby, and I’m not gonna care what you think is a little bit of a punk rock attitude.”

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Jessica Lipsky

Jessica Lipsky is a Brooklyn-based journalist covering culture; her work has appeared in Newsweek, Consequence of Sound, Billboard and Noisey.

2 replies on “Parenthood Is Punk with Upcycled Band T-Shirts Designed for Nursing Mothers”

  1. Reading about women supporting women is never going to not make me happy! Well done on taking a great idea and making it happen!

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