A gang of military moms have decided to throw their weight behind the benefits of breastfeeding with an inspiring picture proving that soldiers can be mothers too.
Breastfeeding may be the most natural thing in the world, but it still carries a strange sort of stigma in the deluded minds of many, who brand it obscene and have called for it be banned in public places because it ruins their lunch and forces them to remember that nature intended the breasts of a female to nourish as opposed to titillate.
No woman should have to fight for her right to breastfeed, and by breastfeeding their babies whilst wearing their combat fatigues, the military moms have made that point quite succinctly.
The photo, which has since gone viral, was taken by former Air Force service member Tara Ruby who served between 1997 and 2001.
When Ruby was on active duty, she bemoaned the lack of places in the Army where serving moms could breastfeed privately and explained how she had to sneak into empty offices and bathrooms to provide for her newborn son.
Ruby, who is now a professional photographer, was so delighted to hear that the Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso, Texas, had opened a lactation room, she came up with an ingenious way to decorate the room’s walls – with a picture of military moms breastfeeding.
Ruby hopes the picture will normalize the idea of soldiers being moms and posted on her Facebook page that such a snapshot has made history.
“Today I believe we made history. To my knowledge a group photo to show support of active duty military mommies nursing their little’s has never been done. It is so nice to see support for this here at Fort Bliss.
“I was active duty a long time ago when support for breastfeeding moms wasn’t even an option or a consideration. We have come so far.”
Ruby told CNN that she approached Fort Bliss hoping to get two or three active soldiers who were also moms to appear in the photo. She was overwhelmed when ten came forward.
“I think it’s great the Army is supporting active duty mothers. Sometimes, you hit a point in your military career where you have to choose between being a soldier and a mother, and a photo like this helps mothers so they don’t have to choose.”
Not everyone agrees however that the photo is a force for good. The Telegraph reports that Alissa Koop, who describes herself as an active duty sailor in the navy, said she found the photo “extremely unprofessional.”
Another Facebook user, Katie Malinis, said, “Maybe it’s beautiful in civilians but not in uniform.”
Ruby addressed the criticisms by telling CNN that such arguments were missing her point.
“Breastfeeding their babies doesn’t make them less of a soldier, I believe it makes them a better one.
“Juggling the tasks and expectations of a soldier, plus providing for their own in the best way they possibly can, makes these ladies even stronger for it.
“Practically speaking, it’s a matter of retention. Mothers need support so they don’t have to choose between family and service.”
(Image Credit: Facebook/Tara Ruby Photography)