A brand new art exhibition has opened in Ireland, with the aim of challenging the societal sexualisation of the act of breastfeeding. Dr Afif El Khuffash is the artist behind the paintings – and it was his work as a Neonatologist and Lactation Consultant that inspired his artistic endeavours.
This is the first art exhibition for Dr Afif El Khuffash, who is a Consultant Neonatologist at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, and a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Fighting the breastfeeding stigma
To coincide with World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), the exhibition, entitled ‘Fighting the breastfeeding stigma’, will run from 29 July – 4 August at The Copper House, Dublin. It features 10 paintings representing mother and baby breastfeeding dyads. The paintings are intimate, raw, empowering and encompass the wide range of emotion, experiences, struggles and elation that come with the breastfeeding journey.
The goal of this project is to empower women, normalize the breastfeeding practice, and challenge the societal sexualisation of the act of breastfeeding and the imagery of breasts that is so pervasive in our society and culture.
Now that breasts [are] primarily sexual, the idea of women breast-feeding infants, especially in public but even in private, [feels] abnormal and destabilizing.Dr Afif El Khuffash
Challenging breastfeeding taboos
Dr Afif El Khuffash explains why the old-fashioned and socially ingrained attitude towards breastfeeding needs to be challenged: “Now that breasts [are] primarily sexual, the idea of women breast-feeding infants, especially in public but even in private, [feels] abnormal and destabilizing. Modernity apparently did not include breast-feeding women; by implication breasts were for men and sex.”
He continued: “The constant objectification of women by men in our society needs to end. Working with mothers and babies for years as a paediatrician and a lactation consultant I have experienced all of those issues first hand and therefore, I am determined to work towards improving the breastfeeding environment and challenge the current taboo thinking.”
The exhibition is in collaboration with PumpPal, a non-profit organisation that supports breastfeeding mums of sick premature babies in Irish Hospital. PumpPal assemble breastfeeding kits which are essential to breastfeeding mums of hospitalised babies. Those kits help support mum to continue expressing milk and successfully resume breastfeeding once the baby is medically fit. Proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go towards the purchase of kits for mothers.
For more information on the breastfeeding exhibition click here.