For hundreds of Instagram followers, it was a powerful moment that normalized breastfeeding — a mother nursing her son.
But the image, captured in a Gap advertisement for sleepwear, was just a typical moment with her son for Adaora Akubilo.
Akubilo is the model in the clothing company's advertisement, unveiled Feb. 22 on Instagram and posted with the message, "Love your forever favorite." It shows her cuddling her 20-month-old son, Arinze. The post is tagged with the hashtag #LoveByGapBody.
The second photo within the same post shows Akubilo breastfeeding the toddler.
>> Nursing mom says she was kicked out of Walmart after taking stand on breastfeeding
Akubilo posted it on her own Instagram, writing, "I am the world's proudest mama holding my little star."
The advertisement was lauded by many as something that helps normalize breastfeeding and label it something celebrated, not hidden.
Comments include, “I’m ordering today — I want to support this” and “Love seeing this.” Viewers added their own hashtags such as #normalizebreastfeeding.
It’s an issue close to the Nigerian-American model’s heart. She herself has faced questions about breastfeeding her son. She said she has decided she will not worry about where she breastfeeds him — nursing in public is not a problem for her — or for how long.
Before she was a mother, she said, she thought she would breastfeed for perhaps six months.
>> Cafe manager tells breastfeeding mom to cover up
But that six-month mark passed, as did the year mark. And her son still wants to breastfeed, and she enjoys the bonding, and so they continue.
As for the shoot, she said the moment happened organically.
They were shooting the scene, in which she wears their pima cotton and soft-wash sleep shirt. Both mom and son were booked for the campaign.
“I was so happy,” she said. “I love the opportunity to do work with my baby.”
Mid-shoot, he needed to nurse.
“I let them know,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, my God, of course it’s OK, go ahead.’ And they said, ‘You can do it right here.’ ”
She often breastfeeds wherever she is.
“I’m so comfortable just nursing my son anywhere,” she said. “If my son needs to nurse, I’m going to nurse him.”
>> Pope to moms during baptisms: ‘Feel free’ to breastfeed at Sistine Chapel
So she nursed on set. The photographer asked if they could capture some shots. She said, “Absolutely.”
The images became an anchor of the campaign.
“I was so happy,” she said. “I felt it was affirming.”
Akubilo said people have teased her about breastfeeding her son. Some have asked, “Why are you still nursing him?”
“I felt like I was doing something wrong,” she said. “Our society in particular is not very supportive of women who nurse after a certain age.”
Her son’s pediatrician has been supportive, she said, and reminded her of all the health benefits of continuing to breastfeed.
Akubilo hopes an image of her publicly doing what some moms feel shamed for will feel empowering, just as breastfeeding feels empowering to her.
“I don’t want women to feel shamed,” she said. “It’s so important to encourage mothers.”
About the Author