The way America tells it, a young woman is expected to exude sensuality, until she becomes a mother. Then she is swiftly transitioned into a self-effacing nurturer, waving away any attention with a gesture of deference to her children.
The incredible feats celebrities go to in order to “snap back” from their pregnancies (remember when Beyoncé, a month after childbirth, showed off her flat abs alongside the first photograph of her twins?) remind us that the only viable cultural alternative to spending the rest of mother’s life clothed in a metaphorical (if not literal) muumuu is to, in the face of incredible odds, revert to her exact pre-baby physical presentation.
Why aren’t mothers (bellies softened by the literal miracle of pregnancy, breasts rippled with stria) invited to inhabit, even celebrate, their new, voluptuous beauty?
This binary can also be observed in our cultural traditions around portraiture. The bridal boudoir shoot, a cultural rite of passage, is intended to fete not only the bride’s body but also her innate sensuality. Following her marriage and children, however, she is only ever professionally photographed with her family, often using her children to self-consciously obstruct any shot of her body.
Let’s work together to change this narrative. The truth is I see luxuriantly beautiful mothers ever day. Many have been so deeply indoctrinated by cultural conditioning, they don’t see it in themselves. I want to photograph mothers, with and without their children, altered by the extraordinarily, hyper-feminine feat of child-bearing, and demonstrate that they are, now more than ever, beautiful and complete.