Breastfeeding is beautiful and so are the mamas doing it.
You may not know her name, but you have probably seen photographer Alicia Atkins' work before. As the owner of Alicia Samone Photography, Alicia has dedicated herself to educating the public about breastfeeding by getting the public used to seeing it.
Her annual group breastfeeding photoshoots have been going viral for years now, and Alicia recently explained to Motherly why breastfeeding portraits are so important to her art.
"I was judged for nursing at a table, at dinner, and as my daughter got older. It's my goal to make all moms comfortable and confident in breastfeeding whenever they want. However they want," she explains.
Legally, moms can breastfeed in public in every state and mothers should not be shamed for nursing, pumping or feeding their baby a bottle of formula in public. Baby's gotta eat, and as Alicia's photos prove, the act of nourishing a baby should be applauded, not hidden.
The annual group shots
Alicia is known for her group breastfeeding photos, which bring mamas together for beautiful photoshoots. For the last five years she has gathered moms together for beautiful group shots, and she knows that the art she and her subjects are creating is making a difference in the wider world.
"I absolutely do. I have gotten so many messages from moms saying they now breastfeed in public with no fear. They don't hide in the bathroom. And they are stronger and feel supported when they speak up to people about it," she tells Motherly.
The various group shots are stunning, but Alicia's individual portraits are equally inspiring, capturing intimate moments between mamas and their babies.
The beauty of breastfeeding
Alicia is a talented photographer with an eye for beauty and she sees so much beauty in the relationship between mothers and babies. For Alicia it's very important to show the world that motherhood doesn't have to be hidden. She doesn't want moms heading to the bathroom to nurse when they would rather stay at the party. She doesn't want mothers to feel like breastfeeding makes them less worthy of being seen.
Celebrating diverse bodies + journeys
Every mother Alicia photographs has a different story and is living her journey in a different body. For Alicia it is important to celebrate all mothers and expand the public's definition of beauty.
In some of her portraits Alicia's subjects strip down for skin-to-skin contact and show not only the beauty of breastfeeding but the beauty of postpartum bodies and body confidence.
It is unfortunate that in 2019 moms still have to talk about normalizing breastfeeding. The public health campaign for breastfeeding has been very successful—moms definitely get why experts suggest breastfeeding—but the public still doesn't get it. A recent survey from Aeroflow found 28% of women do not believe new moms should be allowed to breastfeed (or pump) in public, and 22% of men agreed.
That's why Alicia's work is so important.
Unfortunately, as her viral photos have spread around the internet she has received comments from people who are angry about seeing a breastfeeding photo in their Facebook feeds. But Alicia has a simple response to those kinds of comments. "I say to them they this is the most natural thing in the world. You will see it everywhere you go. It's very simple, simply don't look/scroll past. No need to be negative, be rude, or judge moms. It's already hard. We don't need it to be any harder," she tells Motherly.
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