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Ashley Graham Opens Up About Rejecting the ‘Shame Culture’ Around How We Feed Our Babies

Ashley Graham isn’t afraid to make statements via billboard — she posed for a nude billboard at four months postpartum — and now she is making history with her latest. The model is the first parent to ever combo-feed her babies with breastmilk and formula on billboards across the country. Graham, who is mom to Isaac, 2, and twins Malachi and Roman, 8 months, with husband Justin Ervin, is also opening up about “shame culture” regarding feeding babies.

She also shared a video talking about her breastfeeding journey on Instagram yesterday.

“For the past 2 and a half years, I’ve openly shared my breastfeeding journey with you all,” she wrote. “Today, I’m excited to share a little bit more. After becoming a mom, I recognized the shame culture surrounding parents’ decisions to feed their children.”

In the video, Graham reveals that one of her first thoughts when finding out she was pregnant with twins was, “Mom, how am I going to breastfeed them?”

“I had only known one way and that one way with Isaac was my breast,” she says in the video. “They just weren’t latching. Like, they had latched and then they stopped. And it was this daunting feeling of, ‘I can’t feed my babies.’ I gave birth to you, but I can’t feed you.”

That is such a heartbreaking feeling and one many moms can relate to. Especially when she said her biggest critic was herself.

“And it took me really getting over the stigma I had put on myself that, you know, breast milk is best,” she continues in the video. “And I also think that there’s a stigma that women have to do it all. And as a body activist who started in this industry over 20 years ago, we don’t have to do it all. We don’t have to breastfeed. We don’t have to pump constantly. We don’t have to solely give our babies breast milk. Sure enough, my babies drink breast milk, they drink formula, and everybody’s OK.”

“I really want to normalize combo feeding. There should be no shame in either or,” she adds. “Do exactly what you wanna do for you and your family.”

Graham continued in her caption, “Everyday I am amazed and grateful for all that my body is capable of, but I constantly remind myself that it doesn’t have to do it all. That it’s ok to feel exhausted raising 3 children under 3, that it’s ok to live in a postpartum body, that it’s ok to ask for help and support, that it’s ok to formula feed when I can’t breastfeed. That my best is best, no matter what it looks like.” Yes, girl! This is so true. As someone who is in the thick of it right now with three young kids, I completely relate to this. Moms are freaking amazing, and we should not feel shamed for the way we feed our babies (or anything other decision we make!).

“My twins were combo fed for 5 months, and are now fully formula fed and everyone is healthy and happy and growing strong,” she added. “Parents know best, so trust in their decision to feed their babies how they chose.”

Graham partnered with Bobbie, the only mom-founded and led baby formula company in the U.S., to support the “silent  majority” of formula feeding parents who combo feed their babies. In the sweet photo adorning the billboard, she is shown breastfeeding one twin and feeding the other twin formula via a bottle.

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Ashley Graham/ Bobbie/MEGA Bobbie/MEGA
Graham joins other activist parents in the new Bobbie Motherhood, which is advocating for change in the formula industry. This includes ending the stigma around formula feeding, insisting that “your best is best.” According to stats from the company, 83% of parents rely on formula during their baby’s first year, 70% of formula-feeding parents use some combination of breastmilk and formula, 64% of parents feel judged for feeding their baby formula, and 46% have lied about their feeding choices.

In a statement on Bobbie’s website, Graham said, “Breast is best. Fed is best. If you’re like me, you poured energy — and emotion — into deciding who was right or wrong and which side of the fence you should be on. Here’s the thing. There is no right side,” she continued. “We’re all in this together. ‘Best’ means something different for every baby, parent, and feeding journey. I’ve learned first hand with three under three, there is no one size feeds all.”

Again, I can relate! When my first baby refused to latch and hated nursing, I went through months of tears, frustration, and sleepless nights trying to breastfeed him and pumping and bottle-feeding him. Looking back, I wish I had just switched to formula to save us both a lot of heartbreak — but I was too worried about what other people would think to switch. Plus, I was misinformed about how healthy and beneficial formula feeding is, which is why it’s so great that Graham is speaking up.

In a May interview with Vogue, Graham opened up about the “organized chaos” of her life, which is something all parents can relate to.

“The twins are about to be four months, and we’re in organized chaos,” Graham said. “It’s been diapers, pumping, trying to set a schedule, and then having a toddler on top of that is a lot, but I’m feeling really good about my family.”

We’re all doing the best we can, so let’s just show other moms (and ourselves!) some grace. However you’re feeding your baby, you’re doing a great job!

These celebrity moms got painfully honest about their breastfeeding journeys.

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