Photographer Ivette Ivens is stirring up the media and the Internet with her surreal breastfeeding imagery. Her book Breastfeeding Goddesses is due out next month.
WE CHAT TO THIS EMPOWERED WOMAN ABOUT THE BREASTFEEDING GODDESSES PROJECT, HER PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH BREASTFEEDING AND THE BEAUTY AND WORRY OF BEING AN ARTIST.
How did your Breastfeeding Goddesses project come about?
I was tandem nursing my two boys and decided to capture the moment and share it on Facebook.
I received so much negative feedback that it started a fire inside me. I set out to normalise breastfeeding in the only way I knew how.
My hope is for breastfeeding to become the norm, as well to show that all mothers are goddesses.
We know you had some negative response to breastfeeding images early on. What was the backlash focused on, and has it changed at all over time?
I had a lot of negative feedback when I first started the project.
Some thought my 3 year old son was too old to breastfeed. Some thought it shouldn't be seen. Now, the negative comments are few and far between.
Your breastfeeding photographs have been featured by Fast Company, Daily Mail UK, Fox, Elephant Journal and Huffington Post. Did you expect this project to be so well supported by the mainstream media?
It all started with me taking a 'brelfie' (breastfeeding selfie). I had no idea it would make such an impact.
Your imagery is spreading like wildfire in social media. Why do you think your work has gained so much momentum so quickly?
I'm hoping it's because it is becoming more widely accepted.
How do mothers struggling with nursing respond to these dreamy idealised photographs?
These are some of the women I shoot.
It's easy to forget how beautiful you are when you have little ones, but I aim to remedy that.
What was your personal experience with breastfeeding?
I've been nursing my oldest for almost 4 years and my youngest for 17 months now. Tandem nursing has been such a great tool to have.
Did your personal nursing experience influence your work?
The negative feedback from my 'brelfie' started a fire in my belly. I set out to change the current views on breastfeeding past infancy.
Have you taken any photographs of women pumping or bottle-feeding?
I have. It might become another project of mine. We'll see.
We’re looking forward to the release of the Breastfeeding Goddesses book later in the year. You’re only 25, what can we expect next from Ivette Ivens?
Inspiration comes unexpected.
That's the beauty and the worry of being an artist. You never know when you'll come up with another brilliant idea. You just know that you will.
Finally, what’s the best advice your mum ever gave you?