I remember watching Disney’s Maleficent with my 7-year-old son not too long ago and trying to explain to him that not all villain stories are black and white — hence the brilliant retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the “villain” Maleficent, who we end up rooting for. What I wanted my son to understand — to truly know in his bones — is that the only real way to judge someone is through the lens of compassion and empathy, and that every story has multiple perspectives.
Venezuelan-born photographer Yaky Di Roma, who is now based in Florida, seems to think so, too. She recently shared some absolutely incredible images of herself dressed as Maleficent while nursing her 3-year-old son, Hans who has autism, and transfixed the Internet.
In one particularly striking image, she is seen kneeling in the grass while dressed in all black, horns and all, and nursing her adorable son. The image struck a chord with followers and has been liked 8,545 times and counting.
DiRoma tells Babble that her Instagram followers had mentioned to her several times that her striking appearance makes her “looks like a villain,” and that she could totally pull it off as Maleficent. “She is one of my favorite Disney characters,” DiRoma shares, “so I decided to go for it and put my twist to it.”
As a passionate champion for breastfeeding, DiRoma also decided to use the experience to highlight just how beautiful it is to nurse.
“I promote breastfeeding on my social media constantly and that’s why I decided to include my child to send a message of tolerance,” she shares, “and that even the most dangerous creatures would do anything for their little ones, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
DiRoma says that her son Hans is her greatest inspiration, because through him she has seen that people need to “love more and judge less.” She also shares that she gets mom shamed all the time for still nursing her 3-year-old son, which many find controversial in the United States.
“I’ve tried to stop breastfeeding many times, [but] I haven’t been able to,” she shares. “Because of his autism it’s been so hard to help him find something else that would give him the comfort that he feels when he breastfeeds, and as a mom, I just want to do my best to help him get through … I just want to be a good mom, or at least I want to feel like I’m doing my best, thankfully he has a great team of therapists that are helping us with that.”
As a nursing mother myself, I totally get where DiRoma is coming from. I nursed my second child for 2½ years and there was definite mom shame thrown my way. But in the end, my choice to nurse my son was my business and we ended up weaning when it made the most sense for my son.
So far, the responses to her images have been overwhelmingly positive, DiRoma tells Babble. “I’ve got a lot of love and a lot of hate,” she says, “but way more love and support, and that makes me really happy.”
As a passionate advocate for breastfeeding, I personally find DiRoma’s images dressed as Maleficent to be the perfect way to send a message that demonizing breastfeeding mothers is not only unfair, but devoid of compassion. So bravo to DiRoma, for standing up and sharing a more empathetic and beautiful version of something that should no longer be taboo.