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Alicia Juniku, of Wilmington, North Carolina on Public Shaming, Raising Awareness and Art.

At the mall, hanging in the window is a huge banner display of a woman in lingerie, beautiful curves on display for all to see. In front of the store there is a bench, a woman sits breastfeeding, her shirt shifted just enough to allow her daughter access to the milk that keeps her thriving. One of these scenes is entirely accepted by modern social standards, while the other is cause for bullying and shame.

Here in my current home state of North Carolina, lactation activists and breastfeeding families alike are fighting an uphill battle in our struggle to feed our children whenever and wherever they need, as NC is a traditionally conservative, non-baby-friendly area known for its sometimes backwards politics (the recent LGBT discrimination law passed in March). For me, this stands in stark contrast to the state of my birth and where a large part of my heart resides, Oregon. My daughter was born in the Willamette Valley, in a city full of midwives, birth and postpartum doulas, and lactation consultants. When I nursed my daughter, it was wherever we happened to be, without shame or concern.

Here in Wilmington, I know of far too many mamas who have been publicly shamed for breastfeeding in public, sitting at cafes, at the waterfront, in the store. “Cover yourself!” “That is to be done at home!” “You just want men to see your boobs!” Luckily, this environment has built a fire and forged a certain type of woman: She is strong, she is confident, and she is not afraid of thebacklash.

I made this series of photos for a fundraiser for the Port City Breastfeeding Project, which aims to bring awareness and acceptance of breastfeeding in Wilmington, NC. Over the course of three days, I photographed 66 individual mamas breastfeeding and nurturing their children. These women have shared these images on their social media pages, in their homes and pass on to their children, who refuse to put a blanket over their child so they can eat.

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Origin27_AliciaJuniku breastfeeding mom 1

READ MORE ARTICLES IN THE SERIES
Click titles below.

1. Celebrating Amazing Women + Addressing the Cultural Assault on Breastfeeding Mothers
2.Indecent Exposure – A Culture of Shame Against Breastfeeding Mothers
3. ORIGIN Photographer’s Feature: The Bodies of Mothers by Jade Beall

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