This empowering photo shoot aims to normalize breastfeeding in the black community

Nine breastfeeding moms from Alabama set an example to others in their community. (Photo: Lakisha Cohill, owner of H&C INC)

A fierce and unapologetically beautiful group of mothers gathered together to celebrate the natural act of breastfeeding. In the photo shoot, the nine moms pose topless as they feed their babies, wearing black dresses and gold accessories and crowns.

The Alabama moms originally got together after one of the moms, Angel Warren, posted a Facebook open call for breastfeeding moms willing to participate in a PSA photo shoot during Black Breastfeeding Week. After the first shoot, the women became friends and formed a support group, the Chocolate Milk Mommies of Birmingham. It’s their second shoot together that is featured here.

One of them, 26-year-old Charity Moore, shared with Yahoo Lifestyle the intention behind the photos. “We wanted to do something to capture the essence of how natural breastfeeding is,” she said. “We used crowns to remind each other that we are queens and to keep one another lifted. We chose to come together to normalize breastfeeding. And it’ll never be ‘normal,’ unless it’s seen.”

The goddess-themed photo shoot has gone viral. (Photo: Lakisha Cohill, owner of H&C INC)

Another participating mom, Rauslyn Adams, 26, explained to Yahoo Lifestyle why the women selected a goddess theme.

“To breastfeed, it takes strength, patience, and poise,” says the first-time mom. “We utilized the photo as a tool to bring awareness that it’s OK to feed your baby the natural way.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women still need more targeted support to encourage breastfeeding.

Adams says one of the mothers is still feeding her 2-year-old baby, and that a lot of people have shamed her for it. “This photo was for awareness, for all the women who don’t have support in breastfeeding. This photo is also for women of color, because breastfeeding is considered taboo in our community; hence the hashtag #blackwomendobreastfeed.”

The nine Alabama moms have formed a strong support group. (Photo: Lakisha Cohill, owner of H&C INC)

Photographer Lakisha Cohill says she is overwhelmed by all the attention her photo has gotten online.

“I had no idea it would go viral, I just wanted to spread a beautiful, positive message through art, because these images are so powerful, and tell so many beautiful stories. Each woman represents a different chapter, including the one behind the lens,” says the photographer.

Moore also offers advice to women who come in for any criticism if they breastfeed their child. “You have the natural and legal right to breastfeed your baby in whatever manner you see fit: covered, uncovered, in private, in public. Never let anyone else and their views dictate the choices you make for yourself and your baby.”

As for her message to breastfeeding haters? “Stop treating breastfeeding like it’s some dirty shameful act that people should keep hidden and stop doing as soon as possible. Breastfeeding is an amazing part of life and should be celebrated, not treated like some dirty little secret.”

“Did we take these photos for attention?” she says. “We absolutely did, because we have to erase the stigma amongst the black community as it relates to breastfeeding.”

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