With the way breastfeeding mothers are often treated in public, one would think that nursing a baby is some sort of taboo, new age practice. But as this empowering Instagram account shows, that couldn't be further from the truth.
The images posted on Breastfeeding Art serve as an important reminder that nursing is a totally normal phenomenon that has been part of motherhood throughout history. From centuries-old paintings, sculptures and tapestries to contemporary photos and even edible art, each image is meant to provide "inspiration and cultural and historical context for breastfeeding moms," the account description states.
Artist and mom of three Leigh Pennebaker launched Breastfeeding Art in February and in its 3+ months in the social media sphere, the account has gained over 7,500 Instagram followers.
"Collecting artistic representations of breastfeeding has long encouraged and inspired me personally as a breastfeeding mom, and sharing these images with the world is my way of standing up for mothers and babies and saying, 'look, we will not be marginalized in 2015!'" Pennebaker told The Huffington Post. "Women, and lactating women in particular, have been celebrated, honored, and deified in art throughout human history," she added, noting the abundance of Nursing Madonna iconography and earlier depictions of lactating goddesses like Isis and Hathor.
"I wanted to create a space online that would highlight the historical/cultural context of breastfeeding and convey the extent to which modern-day mothers fit into a long, powerful lineage."
Ultimately, Pennebaker hopes Breastfeeding Art will help moms feel "powerful, beautiful and supported" she said, adding, "I hope people who see it who don't breastfeed will absorb some of the scope of the work and have a greater understanding of the normalcy of breastfeeding."
Detail from "The Flower Girl" by Sir James Jebusa Shannon, 1900. Canvas, 33×26. "Painted while the artist and his family were on holiday at Eastbourne in 1900. The woman was a flower girl whom they met regularly every morning on their way down to the beach; she consented to sit to Shannon in her ordinary working clothes and is shown nursing her baby. The artist's daughter Kitty recalls that her father told the flower girl to come ‘exactly as you are, baby, basket of flowers, the white blouse with the big black spots and old battered straw hat.'" Published in: Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II. Via Tate Gallery website ❤️
#Regram from @misswatkins: "These photographs were a Mother's day gift to myself. I think its time we stop shaming our bodies after we have kids. Yes some women's bodies can snap back and thats great. For others, for many really that isnt the case and they feel shamed. Honey let me tell you something. Your body was a vessel and you held life. Thats beautiful. We as women and men need to stop shaming mom bodies. Im proud of these pictures and if I can encourage at least one women, it was worth posting these. So lets take back the #4thtrimester. We are all beautiful." #breastfeeding #breastfeedingart #motherhood #normalizenursing #love
Detail from "Milk" by Helene Knoop (b. 1979, in Drøbak, Norway). This is a self-portrait, of which the artist has said, "The eternal image of a woman and child has always fascinated me; but not until recent years has it struck me so directly as when I myself transformed into the motif. This is a painting of my first son and me. Actually, I was painting as I was breastfeeding. The color of the background had to be the color of the feeling; a bright greenish white in contrast with the pulsating skin. It is such a bodily condition, this is why there is a lack of other objects in the image." Read more at http://combustus.com/a-graceful-lingering-interview-with-helene-knoop/#dckM7OMqZ6zzwv0d.99 #breastfeeding #breastfeedingart #heleneknoop #painting #selfportrait #motherandchild