If babies are hungry, they need to eat – whenever, wherever. Most often, their nutrition comes from their mother’s breast. But contention flares when it comes down to how and where an infant is fed. Inevitably, the innocuous breast is caught in the crossfire. Due to the sexualisation of women’s bodies, an exposed breast in public places is deemed unsightly and frequently shamed. But Leah Hawker is challenging these negative perceptions and reclaiming the beauty of breastfeeding with her photography.
For some, breastfeeding is a mystifying and divisive natural process. It can elicit unwarranted remarks, looks, and ejections from establishments. In her book Breastfeeding 101, Hawker reveals mothers’ thoughts and beliefs about the practice. Each woman is pictured openly breastfeeding, capturing their pride as they connect with and feed their children. Hawker’s photographs challenge the perceived inappropriateness of what is, ultimately, a normal action, and shines a light on the purity of a mother nourishing her child.
“Breastfeeding is the archetypal act of motherhood,” she says. “I hope to change perceptions and create a space for acceptance for all mothers.” In time, with illuminating work like Hawker’s being shared around the world, breastfeeding will no longer be vilified, but celebrated. After all, a breast means lunch to a baby and nothing more.
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