Photo Of Breastfeeding El Paso Soldiers Goes Viral

By Mónica Ortiz Uribe
September 16, 2015
Courtesy of Tara Ruby Photography
Active duty mothers breastfeed their babies for a photo shoot at Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, Texas.
Mónica Ortiz Uribe
Tara Ruby is an independent photographer based in El Paso, Texas. Her photo of breastfeeding soldiers made international news.

A group photo showing women soldiers breastfeeding their babies at a military base in El Paso went viral this week. In the picture, 10 mothers in camouflage uniforms hold 10 hungry babies to their chests.

El Paso photographer Tara Ruby took the picture at Fort Bliss Army base with the intention of donating it as decoration for a room recently reserved for breastfeeding soldiers. 

"The room is intended so they can have a private area to go and pump their breast milk and then they have a refrigerator so they can store it," Ruby said.

Ruby was an active-duty mom herself when she served in the Air Force 14 years ago.

She shared the photo on her professional Facebook page late one evening, but when she looked the next morning, it had disappeared. Ruby reposted the photo and it has since been shared around the world, picked up by CNN, Time, the BBC and many others. Facebook has not responded to questions about what happened to the photo.

Meanwhile, Ruby said it's stirred discussion about a lack of accommodations for nursing Army moms.

"We're starting to really get a lot of feedback and personal messages from moms," she said. "They pump in a Humvee, or they pump in a tank, or they pump in whatever office is available that day."

The Army is the only military branch that doesn't have a policy on breastfeeding, according to a column in the Army Times written this year by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. She's trying to change that with an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that's currently stalled in Congress.