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Why This Photograph of a Woman Breastfeeding in a Firefighter’s Uniform Is So Important

Image Source: Tara Ruby Photography
Image Source: Tara Ruby Photography

A photo is making the rounds today that has everyone talking.

As you can see above, a beautiful woman is standing in a firefighter uniform — while breastfeeding the baby in her arms. The photo was posted to Facebook on February 28 by Texas-based photographer Tara Ruby and is quickly spreading like wildfire with over 2.5k “likes” and 787 shares in just three days.

The image is part of a larger series by Ruby called The Uniformed Breastfeeding Portrait collection and it’s resonating with mothers everywhere. The photos not only contribute to the #NormalizeBreastfeeding movement, but celebrate working moms of every profession. So while the woman in the photograph is not an actual firefighter (she is the wife of a firefighter who borrowed his uniform), this project is not about firefighters specifically. This model was meant to be symbolic of every mom who has ever balanced a demanding career and breastfeeding, which is no easy feat.

You may already be familiar with The Uniformed Breastfeeding Portrait collection, actually. Ruby first went viral last year for her photo of 10 uniformed military women breastfeeding in a sunlit field. After posting the photo to her Facebook page, it was shared more than 4,000 times in 24 hours. Now, six months later, it has over 24k shares.

According to CNN, Ruby was on active duty from 1997 to 2001, and often had a difficult time finding a place to pump, “ducking into empty offices and bathrooms — anywhere she could find privacy for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.” So when she heard of the newly decked-out nursing room at Fort Bliss, the Army post in El Paso, Texas, she offered her services as a photographer to help decorate the room. 

Ruby told Babble at the time that the photo was “never meant to be more than a really great photo to hang up … and it has become so much more.”

And that it has.

She was met with a firestorm of both praise and criticism at the time, with supporters saying she had made not just a beautiful piece of art, but a powerful statement. As for the critics? Well, they found fault with the fact that the women in the photo were in uniform. Because you know, you can’t be in the Army and be a parent.

At the end of the day, fed is best. But if you choose to breastfeed and you just happen to be a hardworking mama with a full-time career, well we think that is beautiful and worthy of celebration.

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