When the facebook page Earthy Motherhood was deleted recently it was among about five others that I heard about. The number of women deleted; midwives, doulas, artists and mothers, was overwhelming to me. It seemed that Facebook was indeed cleaning house, removing photos of childbirth and breastfeeding with abandon. Pages cropped up in support, among them Bring Back Earthy Motherhood, Bring Back Denver Doula and Bring Back Holly Marie Stewart. I started feeling rather hopeless about the whole thing, how many pages would continue going down, how many times would we have to rally ourselves to get them back, involve the media. Every time Facebook tells us it's an accident, that they didn't mean to delete these pages, these photos.
Maybe it IS an accident. Most of us know Facebook operated in such a way that requires people to report photographs and other material before they are deleted. I know for certain someone reported my own images before they were removed. When we point out that our breastfeeding images are censored before sexualized images for example this is true. I think most of us are aware though that this has less to do with Facebook actually seeking out breastfeeding images and more to do with the public's discomfort with breastfeeding. Regardless of whether it's an accident or not and whether or not the reinstate our accounts... the fact remains that the way Facebook operates is flawed, and it is damaging women's systems of support. Just the fact that someone can report something anonymously means that the perpetrator faces no consequences at all for their actions.
So why don't we go somewhere else to hold support groups for women? Because we shouldn't have to. As Jessica of The Leaky Boob states in her article The Problem Continues:
"Having an active presence on Facebook does something else: normalize breastfeeding. Shunning breastfeeding moms to “discreet” (read: obscure) corners of the internet does nothing to encourage accepting breastfeeding as a normal and beneficial piece of family life."
Certainly it's tempting to leave. It's not nice to feel unwanted anywhere, and it's not nice to feel like you're tempting fate every time you post something as risque as feeding an infant. However this problem is more than a "lactivist" issue. The issue is about how we as a society feel about our own bodies.
I'm sure we're all used to seeing underwear ads at the bus stop, perfume ads involving women in lingerie... yet the ad that was censored recently from the Calgary Transit lines was an image of a newborn baby.
This giant sculpture is by Ron Mueck. It was being shown at the Glenbow Museum of Calgary, but the advertisements were declined for use in public transit areas- because it might be "too much" for some people. However, as someone so aply put it on my Facebook page: "We've all been there." I feel that beyond the obvious concerns about so-called nudity in breastfeeding or childbirth, the abhorrent tendancy to get breastfeeding mixed up with sex... I think people are also repelled by the vulnerability of the images, the lack of airbrushing and "beauty" as we're used to seeing it, as well as the very human quality. I think people are afraid of their own humanity.
Breastfeeding images, pregnancy photos, childbirth and newborn babies all serve to remind us that we're human. These women also come in all shapes and sizes, they don't fit the beauty standard we're used to seeing. I think if anything we need to see more images of normal women's breasts, for example, to remind ourselves what women look like without plastic surgery and airbrushing. I think it's important to remember who we are- vulnerable, miraculous and highly imperfect, in order to completely value ourselves.
A blog on art, roller derby and life.
I'm an artist and mother of two in Courtenay, BC. I've completed a project called the "Madonna and Child Project," and I'm now working on a series of roller derby inspired drawings. In my spare time I play roller derby with the Brick House Betties.