These images from Australian photographer Suzie Blake's series 'What Does Breastfeeding Look Like?' are real, raw and relatable—no airbrushed celebrity shots here.
We've all seen that widely circulated photo of Gisele Bundchen breastfeeding as a full glam squad hovers around her, primping the supermodel to perfection. It's a great shot—an image of a woman balancing motherhood with her career; a symbol of how resourceful women can be when they're faced with competing priorities.
But according to Suzie Blake, it's not a realistic depiction of what a breastfeeding mother actually looks like. The Australian photographer is hoping to counter all the glamorous, airbrushed celebrity breastfeeding images we often see with her own series: A collection of photographs that shows the parts of early motherhood few people discuss—the exhaustion, the pain, the desperate feeling of being pulled in a million directions.
Blake's project asks the question "what does breastfeeding look like?" and showcases realistic images of Blake and other women nourishing their babies.
Blake, whose own mother is a midwife, started her project with a self-portrait, a shot in which she is breastfeeding. She began reaching out to women via Facebook and the response was, according to Blake, overwhelming.
The 'What Does Breastfeeding Look Like?' project is about more than just art. "Most women have never even seen another woman breastfeeding. In addition to this, most women are faced with stereotypes of other women breastfeeding, so it's no wonder that most women just give up altogether. Breastfeeding is a massive global health issue and one that we need to tackle. In order to help women, we need to empower them," Blake says in a video for the project, which is raising funds through Indiegogo.
"I wanted to show how normal breastfeeding is. A lot of the time it's not mum gazing into baby's eyes adoringly, although it can be and that's a wonderful, intimate part of it. but for a lot of mums is just a part of everyday life," she tells Fit Pregnancy over email. "I want to create positive change by portraying breastfeeding in the most authentic way I can."
Blake's photos have earned support from women all over—but that doesn't mean she hasn't received any criticism for her work. "There has been negative feedback but mostly positive," Blake says. "On social media some people are very aggressive with their opinions and also very misinformed. It made me realize even more how important this project and breastfeeding advocacy is."