Saturday, 7 June 2014

A Very Normal Supermodel


Photo credit: Natalia Vodianova/Instagram

When this breastfeeding picture of model Natalia Vodianova landed at The Huffington Post, 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.  Airbrushed.  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.

Normalising 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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9 comments:

  1. The picture is very staged and I actually can't see connection between mom and baby (other than the fact that the baby is feeding). She's looking into the camera rather than at her baby and doesn't have her arm cuddled round him either. Comes across as rather narcissistic to me.

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    1. Well she is a supermodel, staged photos are her thing. She can't have her arm cuddled around her baby because one arm is supporting his head and the other is covering her other nipple. And if you look at your baby for the entire length of every breastfeed you're going to get a very sore neck.

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  2. Well said Mama Bean!! Some people just want to see negativity in anything beautiful. i don't understand the haters! She's looking at the camera - and???? I have loads of pictures of me looking at the camera instead of directly at my baby! its gorgeous and artistic. and of course it's staged - she's a MODEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously - well said.

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  3. Well said indeed! I just wish every baby was breastfed. The very best start in life :-) <3

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  4. This is spot on. YES it works both ways...shaming women for HOWEVER they look is wrong, even if they are supermodels! Nice to see such a real and honest article about embracing motherhood - and WOMANHOOD - in every shape and size. Spot on mama bean!

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  5. Exactly! It's all about normalising. It's sad that society has reached such a state where it needs to be 'normalised' on something which is natural. I personally think every picture which portrays the beautiful breastfeeding relationship is beautiful, no matter how it's taken

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    1. I couldn't agree more, Zarina! So sad that we live in the world where the normal is supposedly 'abnormal', sigh. One feed, one picture, one conversation at a time...*perhaps* attitudes may start to change ;-)

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  6. Yes yes yes yes!!!! Gorgeous picture and a refreshing perspective - let's all learn a little from Mama Bean and support other mamas/women instead of judging!

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