Some viral Internet trends are just downright annoying (I’m looking at you, #Blessed), but the #TreeOfLife brelfies that began trending on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and just about everywhere else over the weekend have done nothing but make me grin from ear to ear.
“Tree of Life” brelfies are simply this: A mom takes a selfie while breastfeeding and later — using one of the super-amazing filters on the PicsArt app — super-imposes an image of tree roots on it, to create a truly amazing work of art:
The makers of the PicsArt app are totally on the bandwagon, and quickly came up with their own instructions (found here) as well as some brand new “Tree of Life” stickers to make the whole thing that much easier.
There’s also a YouTube video tutorial that makes it seem as simple as it truly is. (Trust me: if I could figure out how to make one, anyone can.):
As a breastfeeding geek, one of the things I love most about these pics is that by using the beautiful branches and vines of a tree, they pretty accurately illustrate what breastfeeding truly looks like from inside the body. They also depict the intimate, life-giving relationship between a mama’s body and her breastfeeding child — all while doing a great job of #NormalizingBreastfeeding for the rest of the world.
Not only that, but the pics are totally breathtaking — and you don’t have to be a Photoshop whiz to make one. Each one can be created within minutes, all from the convenience of your smartphone. And we all know how many hours breastfeeding moms spend nursing their babies while surfing the web one-handed; so yep, this is a perfect, easy, and highly entertaining way to capture these precious moments for the future.
But one of the most astonishing things about the trend is just how quickly it caught on — like crazy. I first saw it trending on the popular breastfeeding page, Breastfeeding Mama Talk this past Friday, where a post featured one beautiful “Tree of Life” brelfie, and urged moms to share their own. Fast-forward a few days, and it now has over 14K reactions, 2K shares, and 1K comments from moms sharing their very own “Tree of Life” brelfies.
Through a little detective work, Babble tracked down the mom who started the trend just a few days before it caught on like wildfire on BMT (and just about every breastfeeding site on the web). She goes by Cassandra E., is the mom of one little girl, and the owner of the Instagram account @keeponboobin.
Although Cassandra tells Babble that she can’t take full responsibility for the idea behind the picture (she’s been told that another mom also made a similar photo a few weeks ago), she can take credit for figuring out how to make the photos using the PicsArt app — and for first spreading the idea in an online breastfeeding group last week.
“I had just reached a year of nursing my daughter and was trying to think of a way to commemorate this milestone,” Cassandra tells Babble. “I had just learned about how our milk is considered a living organism. Being a professional photographer, I thought, ‘That’s it! I will edit a photo of my daughter nursing that I can get made into a canvas for our home.'”
That’s when Cassandra decided to try using PicsArt to edit the photo … and the rest is internet viral history.
“I loved what I had made on my phone!” Cassandra tells Babble, “I shared the photo in a breastfeeding group I am in. I was so nervous, it was the first time I had shared a nursing photo anywhere.”
Cassandra has been pleasantly surprised by how quickly things have taken off. Even more so, she is blown away by how it has brought women together — and not just breastfeeding moms.
“I am so surprised and so happy that women everywhere are sharing these amazing photos,” says Cassandra. “It is not only breastfeeding photos, either. I have seen them done on bottles and SNS systems and that is so beautiful. This has brought so many women together and really helped normalize not only breastfeeding but the feeding relationship in general.”
Because yes, all women nurture their babies and children through feeding — however it’s done — and all of these moms should be celebrated.
Cassandra herself has volunteered to make tons of “Tree of Life” brelfies for other moms, and if you look in the comments section for many of the “Tree of Life” share threads, you’ll see moms volunteering left and right to do the same for each other.
This level of kindness and generosity among mothers is something you don’t see all the time, (especially online) but that’s yet another thing to love about this incredible, heartwarming media trend — and it’s something we hope to see more of.
For more, hop on over to Instagram to see (literally) thousands more #TreeOfLife photos.