Artist Kasey Jones created this photo series of her wearing a dress out of breastmilk bags [Photo: Kasey Jones]
Making your work mumback after having a baby can be one of the toughest tests for a new mother. Not only do you have the emotional upset of leaving your little one, you also have the physical struggles of doing the newfound childcare/career/life juggle. Throw breastfeeding into the mix and it’s easy to see why two thirds of new mothers feel unsupported when they return to work after maternity leave.
In a bid to throw some light on the issue artist and mum-of-two, Kasey Jones has decided to make a stand by making herself an outfit made from 150 breast milk bags and sharing images to social media of her wearing the dress to work.
“I created this series to bring awareness to the harsh realities of what it takes to be a working mother, especially when caring for an infant,” Kasey told Yahoo Style UK.
“Our system does not support new mothers or families during this transitional phase. It was my duty as a social artist to shed light on how taxing it is on our physical and mental health.”
The Working Mother Suit photo series depicts Kasey in a number of different work-based situations [Photos: Kasey Jones]
The artist was inspired to create the Working Mother Suit after returning to work shortly after the birth of her second child. Her aim was to help unite working mums and create some kind of symbol to reflect the struggles they have to go through when going back to work after maternity leave.
“When you breast feed, you are food on demand,” she explained. “You are up all night producing milk and feeding your baby. You wake up earlier than your shift starts to pump so that baby has enough food while you are gone. You go to work sleep deprived, not 100%, you work, you pump, you work, you pump. Then you come home and do it all over again.”
“On top of how physically and mentally draining it is, you then have to fight for your rights in the work place,” she continues. “When you ask for a clean and comfortable place to pump, you often get looks of annoyance and judgement. You are also expected to combine your breaks, lunch, and pump time all into the same fraction of time. You are not given adequate time, which can cause stress and anxiety to “perform” within the 15-30 minutes you’ve been allotted.”
One of the pictures highlights the struggle some working mums face in finding somewhere appropriate to express [Photo: Kasey Jones]
Kasey believes that women who work and who choose to become mums have to over-come more obstacles than most including gender discrimination and pay gap, economic hardship for having to take time off for having a baby, judgment from co-workers for needing ‘special’ treatment to have additional time to pump, being penalised in their field for taking time off to have a child and then having to ‘pay your dues’ when you re-enter the work force, and of course sleep deprivation for having to care for an infant/baby on call through the night.
The mum-of-two would like to see workplace policies and legislation change to better improve the lives of both working mothers and their children.
“We need to value self-care as much as we value money,” she explains. “Our system needs to sustain families through this phase so they can re-enter the work force healthy and balanced. Money should never supersede the importance of physical and mental health, but sadly in our society, it does.”
The series has received incredible support [Photos: Kasey Jones]
Kasey believes the situation is particularly bad in the US, which is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee paid maternity leave.
“How we treat mothers and women in our society reflects what we value the most and what we value the least. We do not value the role of women. We do not value the role of the mother,” she says.
The photo series, which portrays Kasey wearing the breastfeeding suit in various different workplace situations including expressing milk in the toilet, has received incredible support worldwide.
“I am overwhelmed with the amount of support the dress has received,” she says. “Women and mothers from all over the world are not only commenting on what the dress stands for but it is also giving them a platform to share their story. Some mothers are commenting who had to deal with the same injustices over 30 years ago. Maternal laws and policy in the United States need to change. We need to support mothers more.”
Do you think workplace practices for mothers needs to improve? Let us know @YahooStyleUK