23 breastfeeding photos that convey the perfectly imperfect reality of nursing.
Suzie Blake is an Australian artist and photographer. She's also a mom to 3-year-old Max and 9-month-old Xavier. She's currently breastfeeding Xavier, and that got her thinking about something.
Blake noticed that when a photo of a mother breastfeeding is widely circulated, it's usually a celebrity or model dressed to the nines, baby expertly positioned, mom looking — well — model-perfect.
Photos like this one, of model Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding her baby on the cover of Australian Elle.
And this one of Giselle breastfeeding her baby. I mean ... few words are necessary. This. Is. Stunning.
What would I do without this beauty squad after the 15 hours flying and only 3 hours of sleep #gettingready💄💅😉 O que seria de mim sem esse esquadrão da beleza depois de voar 15 horas e só dormir 3 horas. #mepreparando
A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on
There is absolutely nothing wrong with high-profile women sharing photos of themselves breastfeeding. It's a good thing. I even wrote about Trunfio's photo and her accompanying thoughts on motherhood and breastfeeding because normalizing breastfeeding is very important. (To be clear, breastfeeding is soooo normal. But as a society, we don't really treat it that way.)
But as it goes with celebs, models, and famous people, the majority of us don't exactly look like them.
"I was seeing a lot of photographs of mothers breastfeeding in the media but none I could relate to," Blake told me. "I just wanted to see a photo of a woman breastfeeding in circumstances similar to my own, not one that had been airbrushed or in a studio setting."
We have a lot of discussions about normalizing breastfeeding, and yet the photos we usually see aren't exactly "normal." As Blake said to me, "Breastfeeding is not this fantasy experience where you lounge on an ornate sofa in high heels and full makeup." ( Sigh. Real life is so ... real.)
"The media is saturated with photographs of women who are airbrushed to 'perfection' (whatever that means), and it upsets me that now the breastfeeding mother is being presented in the same way," she said. "Seriously, give a woman a break! Breastfeeding is hard enough, let alone having to live up to some totally unattainable stereotype."
And that's what led her to begin a pretty cool photo project that she's calling "What Does Breastfeeding Look Like?"
Blake wants to photograph lots and lots of everyday women breastfeeding their babies in everyday circumstances, which are rarely glamorous, so she launched an Indigogo fundraiser so that she can create a large collection of photos of nursing moms.
She got started with a bunch of photos, 23 of which you can scroll down to see. I suspect most moms who have breastfed will be able to relate. And for the rest of us who haven't, it's positive to see the way so many babies eat every single day.
In addition to taking these photos for moms who breastfeed to relate to, Blake is taking them for everyone.
She explained to me that she wants moms-to-be to see them and feel inspired to breastfeed. She wants breastfeeding moms to feel like they can relate.
"I would also like all people to see these images ... it's nothing to be shocked about," she said. She thinks that if more people saw women breastfeeding in everyday, real life circumstances, "they'd be less likely to get all up in arms about it."
Blake would like everyone to be educated about breastfeeding — children, teenagers, and adults ... both men and women. "It needs to be seen for what it is, not what what it's being sold as," she said. Breastfeeding isn't just an issue that matters to moms of infants and toddlers — it affects all of society (we were all babies, after all).
If you'd like to see more photos like this from Blake, you can learn more about her project and support the Indidgogo campaign if you'd like.
With any luck, one day pictures like this won't serve a purpose other than to preserve memories for families!