When this breastfeeding picture of model Natalia Vodianova landed at HuffPost Parents, it was met by readers with a mixture of delight and frustration.
Delight: What a beautiful picture! What a simple, uncomplicated and artistic photograph of a mother and child. Look at that wonderful skin-to-skin contact! How empowered Natalia looks as she embraces motherhood while staring down the lens. How refreshing to see someone in the public eye breastfeeding... someone who has been put on a pedestal by the media; someone who has a public platform and therefore a louder voice.
Frustration: Because Natalia is breastfeeding. Naked. Staged. Because she is looking directly at the camera. Because she has no visible stretch-marks and no obvious cellulite... I could go on, but I got bored of reading all the negativity...
Here's my say: Natalia Vodianova, you are beautiful.
Not because of your symmetrically-proportioned face or your slim physique or clear complexion. You are beautiful because you are using your public platform to embrace motherhood. You are using your name to add momentum to a drive towards trusting our own bodies to nourish our infants... a drive towards believing that we truly are enough. You are giving us a visual -- a stunningly beautiful visual -- of the beauty and connection of breastfeeding.
I see this picture as a step towards normalising breastfeeding... because we really do need to see it. This includes (but is not limited to) the mother on the subway, your friend across town and, believe it or not, a supermodel on Instagram.
I did not look like Natalia does a few weeks postpartum... I was very much more anemic, swollen and stretched. But I am not a supermodel... not before, during or after pregnancy. We should not shame Natalia for her body, just as we should not shame an anemic, swollen or stretched mother either.
Normalizing breastfeeding works both ways; it's an inclusive concept and one without limits. You see, more really is more here... more exposure (pun intended), more nursing mothers, more normality.
Because even the children of supermodels need their mama milk.
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This post also appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.
Photo credit: Natalia Vodianova/Instagram