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Beautiful photos of moms with their infants fight the stigma of breastfeeding

Photographer Ivette Ivens is trying to #FreeTheNipple, one breathtaking breastfeeding portrait at a time.


EJ Dickson


Posted on May 26, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 6:14 pm CDT

There’s nothing more natural and beautiful than a mother breastfeeding her child. But because we live in a society that inherently sexualizes the female body, we tend to view breastfeeding as taboo or gross.

Luckily, there’s been a movement to destigmatize breastfeeding, and it has spread from moms posting breastfeeding selfies on Facebook to Nicole Trunfio’s viral Elle cover in which the Australian model was photographed breastfeeding. Now, photographer Ivette Ivens is trying to further normalize breastfeeding with a photo series called “I Breastfeed My Toddler.” She’s posting beautiful shots of new moms breastfeeding in idyllic settings.

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The photo series debuted earlier this month at a gallery in Chicago. The images will also be compiled into a book, Breastfeeding Goddesses, which is currently available for preorder on Ivens’ website.

The images are undeniably idealized representations of breastfeeding, with each woman captured in beatific lighting in an idyllic, pastoral setting. There’s little reference to the actual reality of breastfeeding—the squalling babies; the sore, cracked nipples; or the potential breast infections.

It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of the moms depicted in the photo series are thin, gorgeous, and white, which makes the series feel less like an empowering destigmatization of breastfeeding and more like a maternity-themed version of a Free People catalog.

“A perfect ass, gorgeous breasts, a svelte figure and long flowing/perfect hair with perfectly shaven legs, as a mother of an infant, is almost unheard of,” one commenter wrote on an image on Ivens’ Facebook page. “Kind of a drag popularizing this image of women that marginalizes the majority of women struggling with their self-image with natural mom-bods, eh?”

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In her defense, Ivens says her goal was never to capture the reality of breastfeeding; instead, she wanted to highlight the cosmic bond between mother and child.

“[Breastfeeding] can be messy, uncomfortable and even painful at times,” she told the Daily Mail. “But the mother’s inner consciousness tells another story.”

If the comments on Ivens’ Facebook page are any indication, her work has resonated strongly with other breastfeeding moms.

“I love these, empowering breastfeeding mothers. I struggled breastfeeding and now I am so happy I do it. It’s so healthy and amazing bonding between my son and i [sic],” one woman wrote.

Another woman commented, “OMG I wish I were this beautiful looking when breastfeeding!!!”

H/T Huffington Post | Photo by Ivette Ivens/Facebook

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*First Published: May 26, 2015, 5:04 pm CDT