Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Living My Life on Camera: I'm Not Making Porn

Okay, maybe that title's a little dramatic, but since my YouTube channel is growing and we've started making a lot more videos, I feel like I spend a lot of time with a camera in my face. The feature called "Life Shots," especially, is very much like having my own little reality show. Every situation becomes a video opportunity. The other day, when I was changing the toddler's diaper while simultaneously nursing the baby in the Moby wrap, all in a public restroom in a medical building because my 5-year-old had to pee, I found myself thinking what a great video that would have made and lamenting that my cameraman - my husband, who also produces and does most of the editing - was not there to record it.

It's not that I think my life is so unique or noteworthy, but enough people comment about how I "must have [my] hands full," or that my boys "keep [me] busy," or wonder "how [I] do it," I figured having four boys 7 and under is interesting to a lot of people. I also like the idea of documenting a normal life. I don't have any special secret. I'm not very organized. I'm certainly no "supermom," whatever that's supposed to mean. But I think I mostly have things under control, and I enjoy life with four boys, and I don't mind sharing that with the world.

Exposing myself (sometimes literally) and our life to the camera is a way of saying, "This is what a normal family looks like." It helps other people in normal families realize that they're normal. It makes people who have it more together than I do feel good, and it gives inspiration to people who aren't sure if they could manage.

I also enjoy using the platform to normalize breastfeeding, cosleeping, and other aspects of baby care that still aren't as mainstream as they could be. It's an opportunity for education about breastfeeding and birth, and a way of showing that I'm just a regular person who does mostly practice what I preach. Babywearing, breastfeeding, these are not out of reach for most people, and they are extremely valuable, especially when you have multiple children.

It's become a little scary, being so exposed (again, sometimes literally). At first, I wasn't sure about making videos that exposed my breasts. Though I'm not squeamish about breastfeeding in public, I'm also not likely to go around flashing people for fun. Because breasts are so sexualized, I knew that I was opening myself up to attention I wasn't looking for by making videos about expressing milk, obtaining a good latch, and so forth, that couldn't help but show quite a lot of skin and nipple. Indeed, I got a penis picture in my message inbox, for the first time yesterday. Lovely. While I know that there are men watching my videos for purposes other than learning about breastfeeding, the fact that those videos have lots of views means that women (and men) who are looking for breastfeeding and pumping help will find my videos. That's the power and magic of social media. More views means more potential viewers. And, I have gotten a few genuine comments from women thanking me for the information, so I know the videos are being watched for their intended purpose as well. And I'm not sorry that I get to generate ad income from men watching for other reasons. That's money that will help me make more videos that can help more people with their breastfeeding and other baby care questions.

I still haven't quite gotten past the idea that men other than my husband are enjoying my breasts. The fact that they are anonymous helps. The fact that some percentage of my video views are from women looking for breastfeeding assistance helps, too. And I can't help what other people do with my image once it's out there. It's the internet, and I'm not naive. My husband is very aware of the potential, of course. He's the one who films the videos, after all. He's in the same frame of mind, that we'll take the views and the ad revenue regardless of the motivation, and we're glad that at least some of the people watching are learning something.

The bottom line, for me, is that the only way to normalize breastfeeding is to show breastfeeding. And since I'm in a position, as a breastfeeding counselor with a new baby of my own, to make instructional videos about breastfeeding using an actual newborn baby, a woman's actual postpartum breasts, and her actual breastmilk, it only made sense to seize the moment and just do it. Showing a real woman breastfeeding a real baby under real circumstances makes breastfeeding attainable, normal, and tangible. My videos let other women see me struggle to latch my baby, fumble with my wrap, and occasionally get confused. They let me expose the learning process of breastfeeding, to show that it's not always easy but that it's doable, to show that it's convenient, to show how it works when you have multiple children. To me, that benefit far outweighs the ickiness that comes with knowing what else my videos might be used for.

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1 comment:

  1. You are making excellent job mama! Keep going.