Women in The Wild: Normalize Breastfeeding

Women in The Wild: Normalize Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been prescribed to new mothers at large by the medical community, but it has not been embraced by our culture. Breastfeeding women are harassed, physically removed from public spaces, told to cover up, and made to feel dirty and shameful.

Photographer Erin White and a group of courageous, impassioned breastfeeding mothers teamed up to create an image that they hope will assist in the movement to help normalize breastfeeding–and the equally important and related movement–to end the shame that new mothers often feel about their post-baby bodies.

Inspired by an image by Stephanie Karr Studios, her local breastfeeding community in Kaiserslautern, Germany wanted to create their own group nursing photo, and White volunteered to be the photographer. During the photo shoot, many women shared their stories about breastfeeding, body image, and loss.

After sharing the group photo on social media, the photographer says she received “a huge outpouring of emotional e-mails and comments from mothers across the world.” Moved by the women’s enthusiasm for normalizing breastfeeding and promoting body positivity, White decided to expand the project, photographing mothers and including their stories with the images.

With help from her associates Liliana Taboas and Megan Flanagan, her project — titled “Women in the Wild” — includes 51 mothers from different parts of the world. “They are so inspiring and real and relatable,” White said.

Erin White expressed, “This image is about more than what we look like at the mall when we are breastfeeding, but about overcoming important issues that are closely tied together for mothers. Everyone in this image was asked to wear what they wanted to for the photo; I am so happy that so many did choose to wear only their undies. It gives women everywhere a clear picture of a variety of real looking women of all shapes, sizes, and ages to see–and hopefully, identify with. I think our image addresses two directly correlated issues every new mom faces with each pregnancy:  body image and public perception about how she chooses to feed.  Many research studies suggest that women who are preoccupied or less satisfied with their body shape are less likely to breastfeed, and more likely to suffer depressive symptoms or psychological distress.”