Stereotypes about young mothers put to rest in photographer's project
Jendella Benson challenges the prejudices about young mums in her newest project "Young Mothers". Read the full story behind her project here.
Younger mothers catch a lot of flak from society. There are countless accusations that they live in poverty, that they are bad parents, or that they are single and unable to provide a proper home for their offspring.
Of course, like all stereotypes, these accusations aren’t factual or applicable to every single young mother. Like all stereotypes, these assertions are built on ignorance and a lack of understanding on the topic. Like all stereotypes, these claims need to be put to rest.
In this powerful, and poignant collection Benson aimed to eliminate any stereotypes regarding young mums. She wanted to show the world that these are strong confident women, and are just as capable as any woman to rise to the challenge of raising a child.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Jendella says that she was inspired by her friends and peers who are young mothers: “I could see first hand how hard they worked to raise their children and work and continue their education, which was in direct contrast with the stereotypes of irresponsible young mothers with no ambitions other than to get benefits (welfare) and a house from the government.”
In many cases, young mums work just as hard or harder than others to provide for their families. They have just as much motherly instinct as other mums and do whatever it takes to bring happiness to their kids. Is it fair to apply stereotypes to these hardworking individuals simply because they are of a younger age?
“Most mothers, no matter the age or circumstances they are in, just want the best for their children and themselves. There’s no difference when it comes to young mothers. All these judgements are made about their morality and their capability are besides the point and actually a real hindrance, but the amazing thing is that despite all the baggage others put on them, they do an amazing job. That should always be celebrated,” Benson said in her interview with The Huffington Post.
Check out some of the bold mums who helped Benson fight the stereotypes surrounding young mothers:
“I remember being on a hospital ward on a shift, and I had my name badge and underneath my name badge there was a picture of Daniel on the other side. And one of the patients saw this picture of Daniel and she said ‘Oh, you’ve got a son.’ I said ‘Yeah, he’s two.’ ‘Oh, you’re not married?’ I said ‘No, I’m not married, it’s just me and Daniel.’ ‘Oh, you must still love him though, mustn’t you?’ Well, yeah! He’s my son, yes, I do still love him!”
“The stigma of being a young parent is increasing because of feelings about welfare. I think people really don’t like young parents for a lot of reasons, but most of it is economic. It’s not acceptable to be homophobic or racist or sexist anymore, but you’ll often hear discrimination towards young parents. [You hear] that they’re scum of the earth and all the things that are said about their morality.”
“Before I got pregnant, if I saw someone else who was pregnant and young I always thought ‘How can they be pregnant? They’re so young!’ And then when I was in the situation I was like ‘Oh, so it can happen to anyone!’ So I was very conscious of people around me and what they would think of me as well. There was another girl and she fell pregnant shortly after me and I remember her telling me and, it’s really bad, but I wanted to be by myself. I didn’t want to be grouped [with her], like the ‘teenage mums,’ I didn’t want to be put into that stereotype. But I was put into it anyway, because I was a young mum.”
”There is a sense now that I think ‘Ah, I didn’t do the university thing, I didn’t have any of those opportunities.’ But then actually I had a whole load of other stuff.”
In the collection, Benson managed to photograph 27 young mothers. Each of these courageous young women shared their stories with Young Motherhood.
The goal of the project is to eliminate the stigma involving young mothers in society. If you are a young mother, know a young mother, or support the fight against the prejudices surrounding them, visit the site for more inspiring and amazing stories.
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