Abbie Fox, a Las Vegas-based photographer and owner of Foxy Photography, is known for her “Fed is Best” viral photo shoots that beautifully portray mothers feeding their babies in all possible ways. Fox is an advocate for highlighting the struggles that mothers face today in a society that seems to demand so much of them, while also judging them along the way.
Now, she’s highlighting another issue that many moms encounter: mommy shaming.
Through a series of powerful photos of children holding up signs about what Fox calls “hot-button topics” for some moms, she shines a spotlight on the harsh comments and judgments that mothers often endure — and how ridiculous most of them sound when we (quite literally) spell them out.
The photos portray everything from little kids admitting that their moms drank coffee during their pregnancies to older children with signs discussing the medications that they are taking for ADD or ADHD. Alongside a baby propped up next to a sign saying that he has been formula-fed by choice, lives another happy-go-lucky preschooler proudly declaring that he was breastfed until he was 2. There are confessions about not eating dinner together, to screen times, to yes, even the use of leashes.
Behind all of the “mommy shaming” photos is the same message: We all raise our kids differently and that’s OK.
For Fox, it was especially important to convey to new mothers in the trenches that shame should have no power when it comes to making the decisions that are best for their families.
“I like to think of myself as a mom activist,” she notes. “I hate the crap we get sometimes. I hate that we get verbally abused for our choices even when we are making the best decision for our family.”
The mother of three recalls being shamed many times by “friends” for some of her parenting decisions — like sleep training or feeding her children pumped milk instead of from the breast. Then, while reading in an online motherhood group one day, Fox came across a mother discussing how she had been shamed for sleep training her son. Reading her words and remembering her own experience being shamed for the same thing, Fox felt the need to show her support somehow; so the idea for this photo shoot was born.
Although Fox admits that the shoot itself (with 29 children, including siblings and a group shot) was pure “chaos,” she believes that the end result was worth it because she realized that even she had been guilty of shaming other moms without knowing it.
“I thought kids on a leash were stupid, until my son ran like a bat out of hell from me in a busy mall,” she shares with Babble. “I thought that breastfeeding past 1 was weird, until I wasn’t able to breastfeed past 3 months and I wished I could have gone longer.”
Most of the comments on Fox’s photos have been supportive, with parents applauding the shoot for bringing a positive motherhood message to social media.
“I LOVE this,” gushed one commenter. “Mom/parent shaming needs to stop and I love the message you are sending. Every baby is different as is every parent. The best thing ever said to me was that it’s okay to patent differently than someone else or to even parent each of your children different. Because after all they are all different.”
Still, because this is Facebook, some cruel comments inevitably poured in … because what would an anti-mommy shaming photo shoot be without some good old-fashioned mommy-shaming comments, right?
Fox is fully aware that it will take a lot more than a few photos to put an end to mommy-shaming. However, aside from putting your child in outright danger, she tells Babble that she does hope that her photo shoot will help moms agree to disagree — and show everyone that there are plenty of others raising their own children the same way they do.
“In a perfect world, I’d love for more ladies to think twice about some of the subjects,” she says. “But I will settle for just letting this be a support for those who have been shamed and no one stuck up for them.”