Natural and beautiful
This World Breastfeeding Week, a city-based photo project hopes to normalise breastfeeding in public
Breastfeeding in public has been a hotly debated topic in the West, often leading to sharply contrasting views. India, however, has had a far better stand on this issue, as it is not uncommon to see a mother (covered, of course) feeding her baby in public. However, it's more of a taboo in metros than rural India, and it's a rarity to spot a millennial mum feed her baby in a crowded shopping mall or a swish restaurant.
City-based photographer Shilpa Nair hopes to start a dialogue with her recent photo series that features six young mothers breastfeeding in public. Nair, the founder of Lensdoula photography that specialises in
maternity, mother-baby and toddler photography, used to be a web developer.
But three years ago, she chanced upon vintage images of breastfeeding women from the rural corners of India. This made her swap professions and she finally decided to execute the photo series this year to spread awareness for World Breastfeeding Week (August 1 to 7). "Feeding was not sexualised or stigmatised in India. When I saw those old images, I felt that I had to do something to normalise breastfeeding in public today," reasons Nair. "We are no different from any other species when it comes to the love a mother has for their child. We should not be taking away this right to love and nurture from any other being," says Rithika Ramesh, one of the mothers featured in the series.
Nair picked lush surroundings for the shoot as she feels that it reinstates that breastfeeding is natural. "I was worried that my idea would be taken negatively. So, the appreciation it received surprised me. A few mothers-in-law also accompanied us to these shoots and suggested that I should try photographing in public spaces such as bus stops and railway stations," says the photographer.
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