A Footscray photographer is celebrating the bond of breastfeeding without an airbrush in sight.
Suzie Blake’s What Does Breastfeeding Look Like? project documents the experience of breastfeeding by normal mothers, reclaiming a space that she says is being taken over by staged and stylised images of “glamorous” feeding on social media or in glossy magazines.
The mother of two young boys, Ms Blake says she’s pleased breastfeeding is gaining social acceptance, but she worries mothers may feel they are falling short of an imaginary ideal when bombarded with images that fail to show the realities of breastfeeding for most women.
“I really enjoy breastfeeding, but with my second son it has been more challenging,” she said.
“I was feeling frustrated there aren’t any images of mother’s feeding in their natural habitat, as part of daily life. We need to show women that breastfeeding is normal – women face enough challenges as it is already.”
The breastfeeding advocate has been swamped with offers to photograph mothers in the west who are happy to take part.
“The response has been incredible and the mothers have felt really empowered by it,” she said.
“My hope is that women who are about to have children see these images and get a feel for what it’s like.”
Ms Blake said the chance to spend more time with other mothers of young children for the project had been rewarding. She will now take the project global, starting with a visit to the UK, which has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.