A recent Facebook photo of several military moms breastfeeding their babies in full camo gear went viral on social media this week, heightening the profile of active-duty mothers.
Tara Ruby, who served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2001 and is now a photographer, envisioned the shoot when she learned that a new nursing room had been added to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. She volunteered her services, suggesting that photographs of uniformed, breastfeeding soldiers adorn the walls.
Ruby told CNN:
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.
The photo features 10 women in fatigues and combat boots looking down adoringly at their infants as they nurse them. Since Ruby posted the photo a week ago on her Facebook page, it’s been shared nearly 25,000 times and nearly 20,000 people have liked it, including Hillary Clinton.
Women make up 15 percent of the military, and an estimated 10 percent of women serving become pregnant each year. The six weeks of maternity leave offered mean some military moms face the tough decision of ending their careers or leaving their newborns behind if they’re deployed.
This touching breastfeeding portrait does much in the way of both normalizing motherhood in the military and challenging the male-centric representations of our nation’s armed services.
Photo from Tara Ruby’s Facebook page