Updated: Jul 13, 2019
In collaboration with grlpwrpgh I set out to photograph nine women that represent the gamut of motherhood and, more broadly, progressive parenting. We sought to show every woman as the queen she is - powerful, brave, and beautiful in her motherhood journey .
Check out these 7 portraits of strength in motherhood and progressive parenting.
1. A Wonderous Mix of Beauty & Chaos
Amanda #badassbossbabe is the mastermind behind the rapidly growing female empowerment network called grlpwrpgh. This isn’t her only hustle, she is also the founder of A. Faye PR a boutique PR agency. Some might call her a micro-influencer when it comes to her personal Instagram @amandafayecowen.
Amanda describes motherhood as a “wonderous mix between of beauty and chaos.”
In Amanda's words:
“It’s fresh post-bath smells, rubbing their back until they doze off in your arms, always insisting on being in a princess gown, watching them do their first somersault, seeing the sparkle in their eyes as you walk into Target (or, is that just my kid?), the constant I love yous.
"It’s hair pulling, three days without showering, PB&J for dinner (AGAIN), poop on the walls, stepping on legos, wine by 4pm, and ‘mom, mum, mummy’ on repeat, and their first NO (does that ever end).
"It’s knowing you’re their person. And it’s knowing that they are yours. It’s a magical world of equal amounts of beauty, and equal amounts of chaos. It’s an adventure I truly never thought I’d take, yet it’s my best adventure yet.”
2. There's nothing more powerful than a mom who knows her worth
Ta’lor a #selfcoach is the founder of Ladyhood Journey. In addition to being a certified self-love coach (so cool!), she's also a body positive model and an inspirational speaker. Ta’lor’s passion for inspiring and motivating other women to live in their truth fuels her life.
She describes herself as a passionate, fun, loving, and open mother who encourages her daughter to be an independent individual.
In Ta’lor's words:
“From an unmarried mom in a toxic relationship to a mom who made a choice to be a single mother, I'm happier than I have been in years I am choosing myself choosing my daughter and definitely loving my time with my sweet little.
"There's nothing more powerful than a mom who knows her worth because she automatically transfers that to her child... I'm definitely living in my truth completely unashamed and unapologetic.”
You can consume all her amazing content by checking out her website www.ladyhoodjourney.com . Get a daily doses of inspiration follow her on Instagram @ladyhoodjourney or via her Facebook group The H.O.E Truth where every day women share and inspire one another.
3. Loving Yourself
Kristine is a mother of two who describes her journey as a mother as one that has been a blessing and a gift. The rediscovery of the world through her children’s eyes is wonderful and exciting for her. But with every journey, there are always things we struggle with, and for Kristine, one of the biggest challenges is self-love.
In high school and college Kristine struggled with bulimia and was scared to death it would resurface after her first pregnancy, but it wasn’t until her second baby, loving her body became much harder.
She was no longer struggling with bulimia, but her body wasn’t bouncing back to its normal state as quickly as it had with the first pregnancy.
Kristine realized that she had to shift her perspective on what healthy and normal meant to her.
Struggling with self-image is a battle many women face long before having children. Pregnancy changes a woman’s body so drastically that most women find themselves in the same boat as Kristine. But just like Kristine, every woman’s definition of beauty, wellness, and health can only be defined by oneself.
Kristine hopes that society will one day stop putting so much pressure on moms to be perfect.
In Kristine's words:
"The story in these pages demonstrates the power of the human spirit, love, and friendship to overcome trauma, allowing you to choose life on your own terms.
“I’ve always struggled with loving myself and I can pick apart my body and myself. I had to learn that being healthy and feeling confident about my body isn’t about how I look it’s about how I feel. I rarely step on a scale because the numbers don’t validate how I am feeling.
If I get a work out in a couple times a week and eat healthy, I know I am doing right by my body. I am fueling it with what it needs so that I can have a long life with my children. By having that perspective, has helped me tremendously with regaining my love for my body.
“Truthfully social media is a lot of the problem, society wants women to work full-time as a family and have the perfect birthday party every year.
"We push ourselves so hard because society tells us we should. We don’t have to listen, but sometimes it’s hard not to. I want society to know me and all mothers out there are making our best decision possible for our children and us.
"If we want to take one hour of the day to do something for ourselves whether it’s read, work out, or take a class taking, taking time for ourselves makes us a better mother. If we decide we want to stay at home, work full-time, or work part time - this is up to us.”
"The story in these pages demonstrates the power of the human spirit, love, and friendship to overcome trauma, allowing you to choose life on your own terms."
Kristine is also the founder of the nonprofit Voices of Hope. After being brutally raped and left for dead at the age of 19, Kristine spent years trying to find her path to healing. Her path in healing led to the creation of Voices of Hope, an organization that educates on sexual violence and fights against rape culture.
In 2018, she released her book Voices of Hope where she shares how the rape affected her life and those she loved.
You can learn more about Kristine’s nonprofit at www.voicesofhope.com or connect with her on Instagram @voicesofhope.
4. Divine Motherhood
When Peachie describes her journey in motherhood says
“It’s been a paradox. The highest of highs, My youngest is a hugely successful superstar and to stand as a witness to that is indescribable.”
"The lowest of lows. A mother is not supposed to outlive her children. Grief has taught me to be gentle with myself.”
She hopes that one day society will see the “The Divinity of Motherhood. It’s a divine assignment and we are indeed designed in a Goddess’s image - down to capacity to create life.”
You can connect with Peachie on Instagram @imjuspeachie.
Karlie, a transwoman and mother to a 15yr old son. Karlie struggled with redefining her faith, only living as a woman behind closed doors for a long time before she knew she could never go back. (Read more of her transition here) Now Karlie is entirely out and happier than she ever thought possible.
Her journey has been one of confusion, denial, and self-discovery. Since grade 7 Karli always knew something was different, but she didn’t quite understand what that was. She knew she liked to crossdress, but she felt “there was just something wrong with me.”
Not fully understanding what she was experiencing and feeling deep shame she became a Christian man seeking to become whole again. Karli writes in her blog “I went to counselors, had people lay hands on me, had groups of people pray for me, was 'baptized in the Holy Spirit', and spent much time trying to figure out what the cause was so that I could finally be free of this 'sinful' behavior. Mind you, never once did I consider that it was okay – it needed to be eradicated so I could fully become the godly man I was meant to be.”
Karlie says that it wasn’t until her wife left her for the final time and things were indeed over between the two of them that she decided it was time to discover who she truly was.
In Karlie's words:
"And so I decided to see once and for all if I was really transgender, or if this was just a fetish or some other fleeting thing.
"I had my son 50% of the time, and I was working, so I decided when I was alone in the house I would live as a woman and see where it went.
“I have friends, I have a job, I can finally stop hiding who I am, and I am blossoming in a way that I never did before.
I wake up every morning glad to be alive (he wanted to die in his sleep most nights), and I love going out into the world.
"Transitioning is the second best thing I’ve ever done – the first is that I got to be my son’s parent. And I have no regrets.
She says she hopes society will see her as:“Someone who did the very best she could for her child and was always there when he needed her, as well as someone who strove for her dreams and always did the best she could.... Someone who supported others and encouraged them, especially other women and trans women!
“My relationship with my son has changed a great deal in the last year, and I would say that we're closer now than ever!”
6. Betterment of the World
Dawn & Diana have both shared the experience of pregnancy and being the non-birth mother which Dawn says has made motherhood “interesting.” Dawn feels very lucky to know this unique dynamic because she knows the challenges many same-sex couples face when trying to conceive.
Diana says that she loves being a mother saying “watching these two awesome kids grow and get to know the beauty of this world.”
Same-sex couples are ordinary people facing the same everyday challenges heterosexual couples face.
Dawn hopes that society will one day recognize that she is both a “mom and a person who seeks to contribute to the betterment of the world through all the things I do in my life.”
Diana says “There is no cookie cutter way to be a woman or a mom. I often don’t feel like I fit the mold, but that doesn’t bother me. I bring my strengths to everything I do, including motherhood.”
Dawn approaches motherhood with openness and honesty as a woman seeking to live in a way that adds to the betterment of the world she raises her children in the same light. She says: “I try to be very loving, open and honest with my kids. I teach them the good, bad and the ugly. I teach them that it’s our job as a family and as people to make the world a better place.”
Diana who loves being a mother and getting to know her kids' thoughts says: “I love hanging out with my kids, watching them grow, learning how to figure out how to deal with, embrace, and thrive in this complicated world around them. My consistency hopefully makes them feel secure to explore the world openly.”
Their favorite way to show love is by spending quality time together and being thoughtful of one another's needs.
7. The Gift of Two Rainbow Babies
Tessie's road to motherhood was harder than she could have imagined. After experiencing three miscarriages, she and her husband weren't sure if they could bear the pain of trying any more.
In Tessie's words:
"My road to motherhood was not what I had imagined. My first two pregnancies ended in miscarriages. I then went on to have Zayden(7) and Zalia (6). When we were ready for baby number three, we suffered another miscarriage.
My husband and I debated being done having children after the 3rd miscarriage. It was like ripping the scab off of an old wound every time, and I didn’t know if I could keep putting myself through the pain. After debating for a year or so, we went for one more.
We had an early ultrasound done due to my history. The tech put the probe on my belly, and I immediately saw it...there were two babies! After getting over the shock, I realized how special it was to be gifted two rainbow babies!"
"My babies are my greatest joy but almost my biggest stress. Being a full-time working mom of 4 little ones is exhausting but I think it makes me a better mom.
I need my own purpose and my own self-identity and having a career provides me with some of those things.
I often refer to my days at work in the ED as my days “off”. I actually get to pee there with no one staring a me!"
Tessie hopes that our country will soon be able to "find peace, understanding and acceptance of everyone, regardless or sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity."
"My babies are biracial as I am white and my husband is African American. The current environment in this country makes me nervous for their future and their safety. I never expected that we would be taking so many steps backwards as a country."
Motherhood is a divine balance between chaos and peace, where women who are imperfectly perfect are doing the best they can for their children and themselves.
Let’s remember to support every woman in her journey of motherhood and seek to find inspiration in her story because we are all navigating this thing called life doing the best we know how.
Do you feel inspired & think someone you know would benefit from reading this also?! Feel free to share it with them. I love when people help me spread the word about other amazing women!
This shoot would not have been possible without all the amazing women who helped this vision come to life!!!!!
Hey there, I'm LeeAnn!
Thank you so much for stopping by.
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A little about me. I am an elementary art school teacher turned photographer, storyteller, and motivator.
I have never been much for superficial living or "small" talk. I love connecting people on a deep level and then sharing their stories through thought provoking imagery with the rest of the world!
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