Parenting

'Women In The Wild' Features Moms Breastfeeding Outside To Spread A Message About Confidence

Photographer and mom of four Erin White was having a hard time breastfeeding when a creative project gave her the boost of confidence she needed.

Inspired by an image by Stephanie Karr Studios, her local breastfeeding community in Kaiserslautern, Germany wanted to create their own group nursing photo, and White volunteered to be the photographer. During the photo shoot, many women shared their stories about breastfeeding, body image, and loss. "There was so much wonderful energy between all the mamas and babies!" she told The Huffington Post.

breastfeeding

After sharing the group photo on social media, the photographer says she received "a huge outpouring of emotional e-mails and comments from mothers across the world." Moved by the women's enthusiasm for normalizing breastfeeding and promoting body positivity, White decided to expand the project, photographing mothers and including their stories with the images.

With help from her associates Liliana Taboas and Megan Flanagan, her project -- titled "Women in the Wild" -- includes 51 mothers from different parts of the world. "They are so inspiring and real and relatable," White said.

women in the wild

For each session, the photographers explained the message and asked the mothers to wear what made them feel most comfortable. While some remained fully clothed, others stripped down to their underwear. "I see a lot of women decide to go more nude once we are at the shoot and they see other mothers doing it," White said. "It gives you a feeling of strength I think. You’re completely vulnerable, but there’s a whole group of you so you find confidence and power standing with your fellow mothers for a cause."

The photographer hopes the participants get a sense of confidence and healing from the series. "The first year or two can be so hard as a family, the last thing [a mom] should be stressed about is her body image," she said, adding, "I hope people will get a sense of the natural beauty of a new mother and stop tearing each other down. I hope it helps people see breastfeeding as a natural act of feeding a baby, rather than a sexual act to be hidden."

This summer, White hopes to photograph many more mothers as she travels throughout the U.S. For more information about the ongoing project, visit her website and Facebook page.

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Erin White Photography
Leah: "I have body issues and always have, before kids, way past into my high school years. ... I promised myself at 25 I would step out of my comfort zone. I would gain self confidence this year. I undressed in front of a complete stranger and nursed my 11 month old son."
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Erin White Photography
Baumholder, Germany
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Erin White Photography
Scarlet: "I have struggled with my weight since I had my first child but the older I get, the more accepting I am becoming of my body that housed my two lovely humans. My stretch marks and extra skin around my mid section are constant reminders of the miracles God has blessed me with."
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Break the Mold
Jamie and Courtney: "My breastfeeding relationship has been totally awe inspiring. From the first few days of sleepy newborn latches to feeling like superwoman for growing a human with exclusively my milk for the first six months. I was her lifeline for literally 16 months from conception to solid foods. ... And I can see how imperative it is to have a supportive partner, without her physical and emotional support, I would have been more apt to stop when things got rough."
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Liliana Taboas
Ardra: "All of us together made me feel like we were one big voice in showing all mothers that doing this for your child is OK no matter where you are or who has something negative to say. Do it for the benefit of your children. And be proud of the bond that you make!"
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Erin White Photography
Leah: "This is an amazing project, to normalize breast feeding, to show others how beautiful a bond between a mother and their child(ren) can be and to help mothers like me gain confidence is a beautiful thing."
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Erin White Photography
Kimberly: "[A]fter forty combined months of breastfeeding, I couldn’t feel more in control of myself. I have brought life to two beautiful children. I have sustained them. For the first time I feel like celebrating my body as a wonderful and precious instrument rather than a shell of betrayal."
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Liliana Taboas
Achley: "Breastfeeding as a black woman has its challenges, but the biggest one is making sure the message I am sending is a clear one. ... For years, black nursing moms were a myth, a fairytale, the unseen. As moms of every race graced the cover of magazines, I patiently waited for my green light­ -- a phenomenal black woman to make a statement so bold she would inspire women of color to come out of hiding. I take solace in knowing that the times are slowly changing, to include my perspective. We've all heard, black women breastfeed, too, but to be honest, I wasn't too sure if that was true. But I stand here today to tell you, they do!"
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Erin White Photography
Ashlyn: "Breastfeeding my babies was something that was just ingrained in me. I always knew we would be in it for the long haul, however long that meant. I was blessed with an easy start and an amazing support system. I know not everyone is so lucky. I know this bond is something to be cherished and I cherish it every single day."
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Liliana Taboas
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Erin White Photography
Amber: "It wasn't until I first became a mother through a violent relationship at the age of 19 that I opened my eyes and realized just how strong I could be and started to embrace every single flaw I had. I knew that I had to learn to love myself so that I could break the cycle of violence for my son and show him how women deserve to be treated... I have been on a mission ever since to encourage other women to realize just how beautiful they are and how strong they are as well. All women are beautiful and as mothers, we need to embrace every perceived flaw because we are teaching our children how to view themselves and how to treat others."
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Break the Mold