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Mum's Not the Word - photobook review

Posted on Instagram - International Womens Day 2023 @thenomobookclub

'Mum's Not the Word' is a photobook by the British photographer Denise Felkin @denisefelkinphotographer, featuring bold portraits of 50 women who identify as either childless or childfree. All of the women are captured nude and curled up in a foetal position on a backdrop of their own duvet - offering a reversal of the well-known visual of an unborn child. The portraits are done in a sensitive manner and seek to empower their subjects, who also in turn hope to empower other NoMos. Each photo is accompanied by a brief testimony from its sitter, sharing insights into the differing reasons that lie behind their status as non-mothers - with each woman uniquely flourishing or hurting in her own way, depending where she falls on the childfree/childless spectrum.

Denise Felkin is childfree herself and undertook this project in order to challenge negative attitudes towards women who are not mothers, in the hope that her project would open up debates around our social stigmatisation. And her book makes a definite lasting impact - both visually and psychologically. The diversity and vulnerability of the naked women in the book, portrayed as they really are with no filters and falseness to hide behind, is in itself a rare find in our contemporary world. But there is everything to be admired in each of the women who took part in the project. Not only are they baring their bodies to the scrutiny of the public gaze, they're also revealing their souls and the essence of who they are in revealing their NoMo status to the world. And the message that is left behind is that there is nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of - the book is a true NoMo celebration.

And it also feels like the perfect book to celebrate International Women's Day 2023's theme of #embraceequity. We don't just need equity and equality between the genders, but the opportunity to embrace inclusivity among all women - whether we are childless, childfree or mothers.

Triggers: infertility; IVF; failed adoption; domestic abuse; regret; grief; abortion; dysfunctional family relationships; loss of a child.

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