Mother and artist Leilani Rogers started the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project to help women feel good about a natural part of motherhood. Here are 14 of our favorite images from her collection.
Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project created by photographer Leilani Rogers. Photo by Three Plus Photography
One of the most natural things a mother can do is to feed her hungry newborn baby. Seems like a fair statement, right? Yet not everyone agrees. The controversy over breastfeeding in public places has been going on for decades.
Even though the Surgeon General of the United States has issued a call to action to support breastfeeding, many Americans are still not comfortable with mothers feeding their babies (even quietly, off to the side) publicly. One Dillard’s shopper recently took to social media after she was forced to leave the store when she tried feeding her baby in the lingerie department. To show the irony of being asked to leave this particular venue, the mother took a photo of herself nursing in front of a revealing bra advertisement. What she was doing was not a “sexy” act but a maternal one. It’s this sort of shaming that has inspired one Texas-based photographer to take action.
Leilani Rogers of Austin is trying to put an end to negative social attitudes about breastfeeding with her Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project. As the Surgeon General’s call points out, the stigma surrounding breastfeeding leaves many mothers feeling embarrassed—and that embarrassment often means that babies go hungry longer than needed. Rogers, who is the mother of four children herself, has personally dealt with that same feeling of embarrassment.
|I wasn’t comfortable breastfeeding in public, ever. I was nervous about what other people would think of me.”|
“PBAP is the direct result of my breastfeeding history,” she says. “I have four children, ages 8 to 15. I breastfed them all, but it was a process! Breastfeeding was very important to me, but it did not come easy … I wasn’t comfortable breastfeeding in public, ever. I was nervous about what other people would think of me, and if they would stare at me, or worse—if they would say something to me. So I just avoided the confrontation wherever possible.”
Woman breastfeeding in restaurant shot by Leilani Rogers from the first ever session of PBAP in 2013. Photo by Leilani Rodgers
But Rogers doesn’t want other mothers to go through the same emotional turmoil, and wanted to do whatever she could to help women not to feel embarrassed to feed their babies. Since 2013, she has recruited 70 photographers to help her celebrate the importance of breastfeeding worldwide in a tasteful and beautiful way. Together they are creating startlingly touching, even gorgeous, colorful photos of mothers feeding their babies naturally.
Hopefully, Rogers’ work will inspire more moms to feel comfortable with the act of breastfeeding a child when they are hungry (whether they happen to be shopping for bras, enjoying a family day out at the beach, or in their own living rooms). And maybe even help others who aren’t moms to think more charitably towards breastfeeding. Here, we’ve shared some of the most striking photos in the project:
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