In an unappreciative, misogynistic society it is rather difficult to concede that women in uniform can be successful mothers as well. A difficult choice to make perhaps for women who wish to thrive on border, without compromising on their biological needs. It was between 1997-2001 when Tara Ruby donned an air force uniform met with empathy from her colleagues for she found it difficult to feed her first child, due to lack of dedicated space or lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers.
Left with no choice, she remembers scrambling for privacy, often using empty offices and bathrooms to pump or feed her son. So, when she heard of a new nursing room being opened in the headquarters of Fort Bliss, the Army post in EL Paso, Texas she couldn’t help but feel ecstatic. To have a dedicated space with comfortable chairs, a refrigerator for storing milk and a sink for lactating mothers was a welcoming change for lactating woman commanders in the force.
Thrilled, Ruby now an El Paso photographer offered to donate few of her aesthetic photographs to adorn the bare walls of the room. Beautiful photographs of uniformed soldiers breastfeeding their children, an awe-filled private moment captured in a frame now embellished the walls.
Breastfeeding their babies doesn’t make them less of a soldier.
“I thought it was be nice to offer some photographs as an additional show of support,” Ruby said to CNN. She further added that Seeing a picture like that helps mothers understand they can be an active soldier and provide support to their children.
After acquiring necessary permissions from the authorities, Ruby sought for active soldiers to model for the photo. She was overwhelmed to see around 10 women with their children marching towards the pre decided location, proudly wearing their boots and camo, way beyond her expectation.
“I think its great the Army is supporting active duty mothers,” she said. The photo which was earlier posted on Thursday evening was taken down shortly for an unknown reason. However it made a quick comeback, but this time with the hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding. The photo was shared more than 4000 times within 23 hours, making it viral.
Few others raised questions on the ‘professionalism’ of the breastfeeding women in uniform. However, responding to it Ruby and an Army spokesperson said that there is no policy that prevents women from breastfeeding in uniform as as long as they “maintain professional standards”.
“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,” she concluded.
Photo Credit: edition.cnn.com