I’ve been interested in the recent responses to Rupi Kaur’s photos on Instagram showing herself during a period. These photos are of images that every single woman in the world will relate to. The small leak of menstrual blood onto clothing and bedding, the spots of blood in a shower, the curled up position with a hot water bottle clamped to the belly. She states that through broadcasting these images she wants to demystify the period to make it what it is- something normal. Instagram deleted her photos twice and here is her response in full.
In many ways I am in full agreement with Rupi. It is wrong that we live in a society where it is ok to be bombarded with unrealistic images of women in bikinis, with airbrushed faces and thinned down limbs but it isn’t ok to be a normal woman. A woman who bleeds every month because that’s how her body prepares to bring about new life. A woman who doesn’t have time to go to the gym. A woman who doesn’t have the money to spend on expensive make-up. A woman who doesn’t like the way she looks but doesn’t have the time, energy, motivation or will power to do anything about it, and feels constant guilt and self-loathing because everything she sees and hears tells her she needs to be different.
I love the This Girl Can campaign and I feel like it’s one of the few that’s got it right. I jiggle therefore I am. Damn right I look hot. I don’t care what anyone, anywhere else thinks about me. I am going to just be.
All of this got me to thinking about another aspect of being a woman- being a mum. And in particular (because this is my frame of reference at the moment) being a new mum. I’ve said it before, there is nothing shiny or glamorous about being a mum. It’s earthy, and messy, and exhausting. There’s no time for putting on make-up, shaving legs or working out whether the clothes you’re putting on still have baby sick on them. My house is constantly untidy, the kitchen is constantly full of dirty pots and pans and just last week I went into the spare room to find a basket of damp washing that I’m pretty sure had been sitting there for 4 days. (It did not smell spring fresh at all.)
But I think we need to look at all of this differently. In the same spirit that Rupi is asking us to celebrate the messier side of being a woman, I want to start a celebration of the messiness of being a mum. So I’m starting a photo series (which I doubt will be as contentious as Rupi’s, but I’m taking my inspiration from her) entitled ‘mumhood’. These are not professionally taken photos, but that’s part of the point. We (me and some of my new mum friends) are not professionals, we’re mums. So I hope that these photographs illustrate some of the normality and beautiful untidiness of being a mother. Because at the end of the day, it’s not the state of the house, or my hair, or my clothing that matters. It’s the life that I’ve fed, nurtured, protected and loved. It’s all for my baby.