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How Breastfeeding Changed This Mom's Sense of Self

"I choose to normalize something that was not normal for me growing up."
ByJenny Tamas
Contributing Writer
Updated
Dec 2017
woman breastfeeding with graffiti background
Image: Jacob Calvo

Jenny Tamas is the force behind the Instagram account Gypsynspice, where she regularly posts stunning photos of herself breastfeeding her one-year-old, Lilly. Here, she explains why sharing those photos is so important, no matter the criticism she may face along the way.

I grew up on the streets. We were dirt poor and after my dad went to jail, it got even worse. When we did live in a house, it was in the projects, and when we didn’t, we were homeless, eating out of dumpsters or sleeping in domestic violence shelters. You know what you never see in those places?

Breastfeeding.

Then we got a new dad and all of that changed. He was our Papa until the day he got arrested for pedophilia. Trust me, I know it’s hard to hear and easy to ignore —predators and children— but it’s my truth. And it taught me my body wasn’t really mine; its purpose was to remain attractive for men. You know what my early years didn’t teach me about the female body?

Breastfeeding.

The remainder of my childhood was spent in foster care. You know what you never see in foster homes either?

Breastfeeding.

I was the first, in my direct community, to change this. ‘Of course I’ll breastfeed,’ I’d think as I clicked on nursing covers to add to my registry, ‘but only because it’s what’s best for my child.’

Then I had my daughter, Lilly, and everything changed. One day I had breasts and the next day those very same breasts produced milk. The breasts I was taught were for ‘him’ now sustained her life. Breastfeeding melted the shame I’d carried with me simply because I was a girl. It gave me back the sense of identity I didn’t even realize I’d lost. It was the very first time I saw my body as my own.

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Breastfeeding completely exploded the world’s pornographic view I had of myself and all women. It was like going through life unable to smell, only to learn you’ve been holding the most fragrant rose all along.

It’s because of this I don’t see a need to cover up.

It’s because of this I have never been more proud to be a woman.

It’s because of this that I choose to normalize something that was not normal for me growing up.

Image: Jacob Calvo
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