When photographer Tara Ruby volunteered to decorate the new nursing room at Fort Bliss, a US Army base in Texas, she called upon her own experience as a mother and as a soldier for inspiration.
Ruby, who served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2001, wanted to make a statement about what it means to be a woman in the military; specifically, she wanted to show how being a mother doesn't make a solider any less strong or able.
So, she photographed 10 female soldiers breastfeeding their babies while in uniform: the ultimate statement of femininity and power.
In a Facebook post highlighting the beautiful photo, Ruby wrote,
Today I believe we made history. To my knowledge a group photo to show support of active duty military mommies nursing their [littles] has never been done. It is so nice to see support for this here at Fort Bliss...
I was active duty a long time ago when support for breastfeeding moms wasn't even an option or a consideration. We have come so far. Breastfeeding their babies doesn't make them less of a soldier, I believe it makes them a better one. Juggling the tasks and expectations of a soldier, plus providing for their own in the best way they possibly can, makes these ladies even stronger for it.
The positive response to Ruby's photograph is unprecedented. Both the Army and Fort Bliss officially approved the shoot and offered their support for her message, Ruby said.
To approve of Ruby's photo may seem a small, almost exceedingly simple gesture. But the Army's support showed, finally, women on active duty aren't being told they can't or shouldn't -- they're being accepted with open arms, femininity and all.
And that is truly a beautiful thing.
See Ruby's stunning photograph, below, and find more of her original work on Facebook.