This Military Mom Breastfeeding Photo By Photographer Tara Ruby Proves You Can Definitely Be Both A Mother AND A Soldier
"Breastfeeding" and "soldier" are not two words you expect to hear together, but photographer and former Air Force member Tara Ruby combined them in this photograph of military moms breastfeeding. Ruby decided to take the picture to hang on the wall of the new nursing room at the Fort Bliss army post in El Paso, TX, an amenity that didn't exist while she was serving.
Ruby reached out to Fort Bliss's Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Training Program to find volunteers, and to her surprise, 10 mothers were eager to be part of the photoshoot. "Sometimes, you hit a point in your military career where you have to choose between being a soldier and a mother, and a photo like this helps mothers so they don't have to choose," the El Paso-based photographer told CNN. She writes in the photo's Instagram caption:
I was active duty a long time ago when support for breastfeeding moms wasn't even an option or a consideration. We have come so far. Breastfeeding their babies doesn't make them less of a soldier, I believe it makes them a better one. Juggling the tasks and expectations of a soldier, plus providing for their own in the best way they possibly can, makes these ladies even stronger for it.
The caption also the includes the hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding, symbolizing a larger movement to desexualize breastfeeding and allow mothers the right to feed their children however they wish, wherever they need to. The addition of a nursing room to Fort Bliss is an important step forward in this movement; additionally, the fact that this photograph, which doesn't even show any nudity, was initially removed from Ruby's social media page and several other pages that shared it demonstrates why the movement to normalize breastfeeding is needed. So do the comments on the photo calling it "extremely unprofessional" and claiming that "military professionalism is not being held while your top is open and a baby at your breast." Both Ruby and a spokesperson for the U.S. Army pointed out to CNN that there is no policy against breastfeeding in uniform.
Ruby and her photograph's subjects take back their breasts as parts of their own bodies that they can use however they see fit. It also shows that the military is a group that is accessible to women who are dedicated to fighting for their country — both in and out of the nursing room.