After working as a midwife for many years, Elisabeth Ubbe transitioned to photography, creating bodies of work that focus on women’s issues, equality, and social justice. Invisible Breasts is a series she created after noticing that Swedish women breastfeeding in public were being harassed. Ubbe felt this was a shift from when she was a child, a time when it was more acceptable for women in Sweden to bare their breasts, whether breastfeeding, at the beach, or at home.
Ubbe says this societal change “is dangerous in a bigger way than the right to to breastfeed wherever a woman and child want,” and connects the development to right-wing politics and a pervasive visual language that “shapes our ideas of what women are and how they should look.”
Invisible Breasts pictures Swedish women breastfeeding in everyday situations, recognizing the normalcy of a practice that has helped to sustain humans since our inception. Ubbe feels the images can serve as a conversation starter about the lack of acceptance of women who nurse in public, and the control of women’s bodies this judgment besets.
In March, Ubbe will present a selection of images at the Breastfeeding and Feminism Conference in North Carolina. She’ll invite visitors to become a part of the exhibition by offering photo sessions to nursing mothers and women at the conference. Their pictures will be printed and placed on the gallery wall.
“I see it as a resistance movement that sheds light on how women are shown in society and how social structures can hinder or promote women and children,” says Ubbe.
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