These Empowering Photos Help Break Stigma Surrounding Black Moms Who Breastfeed

Black women breastfeed too.

Mom Angel Warren was tired of the stigma Black mothers who breastfeed often face, so she wanted to create something uplifting  for other mothers to feel confident about the very natural act. What resulted was a beautiful photo shoot featuring nine Black mothers topless, unapologetically nursing their babies. 

The empowering photo series sends a simple, but important, message: Black women breastfeed too. 

"I'm in a breastfeeding support group for Black moms and I get to read the posts ladies write," Warren explained to A Plus. "A lot of posts [are] on the negativity they receive from their spouse, family,  and even complete strangers. Comments like 'Black women don't breastfeed,' 'You're trying to be White.' Those comments really get to me. But the icing on the cake is when someone claims women who nurse uncovered are looking for attention, and that we are getting sexual gratification from it. And the ladies who nurse [babies over a year old] have it far worse. So I just made a post on Facebook for any moms that would like to participate in normalizing breastfeeding. I specifically asked for Black moms because the stigma [within] our community is ignorant. And I want to spread awareness and show other moms that you have support." 



The photos, shot by Lakisha Cohill,  feature the Alabama moms dressed as African goddesses— a theme that illustrates the strength, patience and poise it takes to breastfeed. 

"Angel wanted to do a photoshoot to spread awareness for Black Breastfeeding Week,"Cohill told A Plus. "And this is actually the second shoot we've done since. The ladies formed a support group, Chocolate Milk Mommies, after the first shoot and after opening up and getting acquainted, they each input ideas for this shoot around their comfort levels. It was a collective effort from a beautiful sisterhood formed through Facebook."

One of the participating moms, Jennifer Miller, told us that it was very important for her to be a part of this project. "[I wanted to help] make people of aware of breastfeeding in the Black community, along with showing everyone that we, as Black women, can come together and lift up one another."  

Another mom from the photo, Charity Moore, said, "Just because society has over-sexualized boobs that doesn't mean we all think of our breasts as fun bags. So stop saying, 'boobs are sexual whether you like it or not." We have to stop treating breastfeeding like it's some dirty shameful act that people should keep hidden. Breastfeeding is an amazing part of life and should be celebrated, not treated like some dirty little secret. Breastfeeding will never become normal unless we see it, especially in the Black community. I'm hoping this photo series will help encourage other moms to breastfeed and not only breastfeed, but to be comfortable and confident in doing so. Our community, the Black community, has the lowest breastfeeding rates in this country and it is directly reflected in our health as adults from diabetes to heart disease, cancer and obesity. "

Courtesy of Lakisha Cohill
Courtesy of Lakisha Cohill

The photo has since gone viral, and people are reacting with joy and inspiration, calling the shoot "Amazing" and "Empowering." 

"Beautiful photo and even more beautiful bond!!! Supporting each other is a key part of what makes the breastfeeding journey possible," said one Instagram user.

"This is beyond beautiful," said another. 

Cohill says while  the response to the photo has been overwhelmingly positive, they were still met with negativity — proving just how necessary this shoot is.  "It's a breastfeeding shoot so, of course it's still a very sensitive topic for most," Cohill explained. "We've received more women wanting to join our local group, participate in play dates and upcoming photo shoots. We've also received some less than kind remarks, but we try not to focus on the negativity. That's not what defines us! Breastfeeding is a mother's choice. It's not dirty, nor shameful and should only be done in a way that reflects mommy and baby's comfort levels."

Cohill says the shoot isn't meant to dictate what breastfeeding should look like, rather it's just a message for moms to embrace this very natural and intimate moment with their child, and also to choose for themselves whether or not it's something they even want to do. "For some moms, breastfeeding looks like this," the Alabama-based photographer explained. "For others, they may choose to cover themselves. And some moms may choose not to breastfeed at all. All of which are perfectly OK. You are your baby's #1 advocate! The law protects your decision to breastfeed however you see fit."

For moms struggling with feeling comfortable breastfeeding and may not have the opportunity to do this badass shoot, Cohill recommends finding "other parents who support you and surround yourself with like-minded individuals to be your peace, your support and your extra backbone should you need them."

(H/T: Yahoo Lifestyle)

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