When Las Vegas-based photographer Abbie Fox’s son Maverick was an infant, she often cried herself to sleep at night over people’s comments on her parenting choices. She learned, as all parents do, that whether it’s screen time, feeding, vaccination schedules or co-sleeping, people have opinions, and they are more than happy to share them (whether they’ve been asked or not).
Maverick is 8 now, and Fox has two more children: Georgia, 6, and Millie, 7 months. She is less sensitive to those judgmental comments, but they haven’t stopped. The photographer known for her “Fed is Best” images of large groups of women breast- and bottle-feeding their infants decided to bring together families for a photo shoot to call out the practice commonly known as “mommy shaming.”
“One of the things my clients talk about and complain about is that they would get shamed for everything,” Fox said by phone this week. “If you bottle-feed, someone has an opinion on it, and if you breast-feed, someone has an opinion on that, that you did it too long. … No matter what you do, you can’t win in this world.
“All of these kids are happy and healthy, and it doesn’t matter how they’re raised as long as they’re nurtured and fed and happy.”
The images feature kids with signs declaring a wide variety of parenting choices — that their parents vaccinated them, or that they still co-sleep, or that they are home-schooled. That’s by design, says Fox, whose own children are shown with signs stating that they were allowed to cry themselves to sleep (Maverick), ate homemade baby food (Georgia) and are allowed to watch TV as infants (Millie). The response to the photos, which have been shared more than 29,000 times on Facebook since the album was posted late Tuesday night, has been mixed, Fox says. About half the comments are supportive, but there is plenty of criticism, as well.
“I knew it was coming, but I have to protect the other moms,” Fox says. “At first they were all really upset, but now they realize these people are crazy.”
Have you been mom- or dad-shamed? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.