A striking image of model Diandra Forrest breastfeeding her infant daughter has ignited support and admiration on Instagram — a year after hitting the runway with her new baby at New York Fashion Week and reportedly shocking those who mistakenly thought she had been breastfeeding as she walked.
“Birth is the epicenter of a woman’s power,” Forrest wrote alongside her photo, in which she’s perched on a stool and wearing a strapless fishtail gown made of fake rose petals from Michael’s, as year-old daughter Rain nurses in a matching rose-petal crown. “And we are so powerful! Happy Women’s History Month.”
The image, posted Wednesday morning, has more than 6,000 likes on Forrest’s page and more than 7,000 on that of the photographer, Joey Rosado of Island Boi Photography, who tells Yahoo Style that the “amazing and brilliant” shoot, called “The Rebirth of Love,” was the brainchild of makeup artist and creative director Moshoodat Sanni.
Surprisingly, Sanni tells Yahoo Style that the breastfeeding image “totally happened organically! She was actually breastfeeding her daughter while we were shooting … and said, ‘Hey, why not add baby Rain into the image!’ We added the headband, and the rest is history.”
Also, Sanni notes, “She actually told us about the NYFW backlash at the end of the shoot, which is so ironic and added so much more meaning to the project.”
Forrest, 27, known for her unique look due to having albinism, has been outspoken about her condition — how she was bullied for her appearance as a kid but has come to embrace her beauty in adulthood. Now she’s becoming somewhat of a lactivist, or advocate for breastfeeding, as well.
“I think, too often, women’s bodies are looked at in a sexual manner,” the model tells Yahoo Beauty. “So when there is a woman breastfeeding her child, which is nurturing and natural, it may seem wrong if your mind isn’t in the right place.” But she has adored breastfeeding Rain so far, even though it hasn’t always been easy.
“I love the connection that it’s allowed me to have with my daughter and knowing that she is getting all of the nutrients that she needs,” she says, adding: “It’s important to speak about it because breastfeeding is actually very hard do. Between the bleeding nipples, feeding every hour, and sleep deprivation, I wouldn’t have made it a week without lots of support.”
Forrest adds that she walked the runway during NYFW last year at the suggestion of Gypsy Sport designer Rio Uribe.
“When [he] asked me if I would feel comfortable walking the runway with Rain, I immediately said yes,” she recalls. “I was a new mom, in love with my baby, and I love what I do so much. I couldn’t think of a better way to combine the two. It also was a full-circle moment, being that I walked down that same runway for Gypsy Sport while I was pregnant with Rain.”
After that show, though, much of the disapproving buzz was that she’d breastfed Rain on the catwalk, even though that wasn’t the case. “I was so shocked when people were shocked by it,” Forrest told the Telegraph. Even more so, she added, since she was only carrying, and not breastfeeding, Rain. “I was nursing her while we were backstage,” she said. “Her mouth would have had to be on my boob to be breastfeeding! So I was like, ‘What?’”
Forrest now joins a growing lineup of models — including Olivia Wilde, Gisele Bündchen, Miranda Kerr, Nicole Trunfio, Caroline Trentini, and Candice Swanepoel — who have been photographed breastfeeding their babies and have spoken out about breastfeeding in public, facing both praise and criticism.
In the Instagrammed photo, Forrest wears her hair pulled back dramatically — courtesy of stylist Alicia Fajardo — which highlights a deep-scarlet lip for which Sanni used Make Up For Ever No. 36.
But it’s the fact that she’s nursing Rain in the picture that has been most noteworthy. “It’s very important for women to see, because we want them to know that there is beauty in all aspects of womanhood!” notes Sanni. “We should be able to do what we love — which is modeling, in Diandra’s case — and express our love and nurture the people who matter the most in our lives. To me, that’s what being a woman is: strength, elegance, wisdom, and beauty.”