Philadelphia Billboards, Bus Cards and Train Platforms Share a “Feeding your Baby is NORMAL” Campaign
If you have been following my viral project for the last 4 (almost 5 years), then you already know that I have been traveling around on the Normalize Breastfeeding Tour photographing diverse variations of normal breastfeeding, across cultures and delivery methods of breast milk! What you might not know, is that I have been VERIFIED on Facebook for several years now and I am working hard to grow my following on Instagram. I also took a year and a half off of social media due to a loss of pregnancy which forced my youngest son who is featured breastfeeding across my platforms to wean long before we both were ready. However, he was three years old and I didn’t see any point of re-lactating to continue our journey at that point. But what MOST of you do not know is that I almost decided to let this entire project go because it was just too difficult to support so many mothers who were still doing something that I wanted to continue doing. It was hard to see people announcing their pregnancies, even though I was happy for them. It was SO hard to move past it all. I am still working on loving myself and knowing my worth each and every day.
Vanessa A. Simmons, Photographer, CLEC
Founder of the Official Worldwide Normalize Breastfeeding Movement
Meanwhile, I had been given a life-changing opportunity in July of 2017. I was contacted by the Philadelphia Department of Health, Division of Maternal, Child and Family Health, for a job offer to photograph breastfeeding in communities where new mothers were less likely to breastfeed. Some of these communities were very poor and lacked the support they needed to be successful. The PDPH wanted to change that and today I am so proud to announce that they did! A wave a change is coming for their city, their families, and their breastfeeding rates, especially in communities of color!
When I was there on the very first day of shooting Nikki Lee, IBCLC and I were in an awfully traumatic car accident that totaled her vehicle and left us both shaken to our core. I knew that there was some “thing” in the city that didn’t want to see us succeed. She went home to rest and I continued as planned and photographed the rest of the families scheduled for the day. Then, we finished up shooting the following day. After that, months went by and I waited patiently to see how the images would be used.
When I was hired, there were not any finalized plans about what the campaign would look like or how big it would be…but brace yourself because it has been a HUGE SUCCESS. At the beginning of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month and for an additional 10 weeks, the PDPH rolled out the campaign across town including breastfeeding billboards, bus cards, and train platforms! By the time Black Breastfeeding Week hit, they had FULL SATURATION across the city in both English and Spanish! The advertising budget was in the hundred-thousands and the impressions were in the MILLIONS. That’s right! Millions of people have seen this campaign as they traveled to school, work, their local coffee shops and just while hanging out on the weekends for 10 straight weeks O_0…
The real question here and now is: How is your city’s department of health normalizing breastfeeding with their current budget?
Call them today. Tell them all about how Philly is trying to normalize breastfeeding. By the way, PDPH just hired me back TODAY and I will be in Philly shooting FOUR MORE billboards 10/29-11/2 (next week)!
I am available for commercial work and willing to travel worldwide. It has been my biggest honor to do this work, support families in this way, and provide for my family with all that I am passionate about!
Years ago, I would never promote myself in this space in this way, but after witnessing all that is possible in Philly, I have chosen to accept my path, walk in my passion, and truly know my worth!
**NOW BOOKING DATES IN 2019**
Without further adieux, friends, Philadelphia is NORMALIZING BREASTFEEDING!!! (standing ovation please)
Almost 55 Days ago, I started a GoFundMe page to put a billboard in all of the 11 cities where I have already traveled. The fundraiser was shared more than 300 times on Facebook, but we have yet to receive any donations.
Will you support Breastfeeding Billboards near your location?