When Alex James struggled to adapt to breastfeeding her newborn son, she was emotional, yet determined.
“It was a very hard experience,” she told KMBC.
“The price of formula is ridiculous and I’ve heard all the advantages of breastfeeding,” she said. “I was determined to do it. I wanted to prove that I could stick with something.”
James, who lives in Missouri, found herself struggling to find a safe and sanitary place to nurse in public, while also fearing the judgment and ridicule that can come with breastfeeding in public spaces.
That’s when she decided to celebrate her experience with confidence, commissioning photographer Sarah Fowler to do a breastfeeding shoot.
Upon meeting her client, Fowler knew this photoshoot was particularly important. As a mother herself, she could profoundly relate to James’ struggle.
Fowler told Cosmopolitan, “When my daughter was 4 weeks old, my husband and I had our first date night and I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor of a nasty bathroom.”
“I was crying and trying to get her latched on and it wasn’t working, and I thought, ‘This is so stupid.'”
Fowler also told Bustle, “It’s messy, time-consuming, so hard in the beginnning, and the sleep deprivation is ridiculous. It’s tough and takes a tough woman.”
It does take a tough woman. So it was feminist icon and ubiquitous symbol of strength, Rosie the Riveter, that James and Fowler chose to channel in the photoshoot.
Since appearing on social media, the photos have surely made the bold and empowering statement they intended to make, with several news outlets picking up the story.
And it’s hardly a surprise. Speaking to Bustle, Fowler said, “Motherhood is a universal language.”
“Whether you formula-feed or breastfeed, everyone is on the same side. We should support each other no matter what, and not ridicule and stare when someone has their baby’s best interest at heart. Male or female: if you don’t like it, just look away.”
There’s a lot women aren’t told about breastfeeding, and there’s a lot they aren’t told about giving birth. Post continues after video…
And that’s the power of this image – it sends the inspiring message that breastfeeding is natural, normal, beautiful, and powerful. It deserves to be celebrated.
Women all over the world are far too often criticised for feeding in public, and are not provided with the appropriate facilities to do so. Despite the belief that ‘breast is best’, there remains a great deal of stigma and shame around breastfeeding outside the home.
It’s a timely testament to the strength of women everywhere.
And it’s always worth reiterating the message: We Can Do It.