Features Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - 05:30
Monalisa Das | The News Minute | September 19, 2014 | 04:52 pm IST  A woman's breasts have been a subject of awe, admiration, fancy and curiosity, among others, for a long time now. Covered, bare or semi-bare, breasts are everywhere.  However, what many seem to find awkward is the act of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is as natural as birth itself. But breastfeed in the open, in the view of a third set of eyes? Why can't a mother just breastfeed in the confines of her home instead, in the basement preferably, under the table and can we also have the lights dimmed?  Not many women might feel comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding in the open, but one woman we know of is making an attempt to 'normalise' breastfeeding.  ( Heather Cushman-Dowdee ) Meet Heather Cushman Dowdee. The Los Angeles based mother of four, is an illustrator, an author and... a mother of four. Heather creates comics about breastfeeding, homebirthing, attachment parenting and motherhood; she is the creator of Hathor the Cowgoddess and Mama Is… Heather created her first comic in 2001, soon after the birth of her second child.  "I developed the character because I wanted to editorialize about the issues of the day that affected mothers, but with humor, Sassy sassy humor. I also really wanted to normalize breastfeeding. When I had my first child I had never seen anyone breastfeed and definitely not out and about in the world. With my first child I breastfed in bathroom stalls in stores, in cars in parking lots outside of restaurants, in back bedrooms when company was over. I decided there needed to be a character that was brave and strong and could take on these issues (and be the sassy I wish I was)", says Heather in a conversation with The News Minute over email.  ( Heather, on her website writes, that the babies in her comics are not inspired by her own kids. “My kids are far more wonderful than I can ever capture in a comic”. ) The 'homeschooling mother of four' usually gets the ideas for her comics from her day to day life or anything that she intends to draw. "After the kids are in bed I sketch and draw the comic", she writes.  Heather is also an author, who writes under the pen name H.D.Knightley. "I’m writing young adult novels", she says. "I’ve written Bright, about a young girl in a future world where the lights are so bright that she can’t see the stars. It has a character who is a breastfeeding mother. Also a book called Fly, which is a fairytale based on the Light Princess by George MacDonald, the princess flies, but she also has blue hair and loves punk music".  ( You may not find her husband, ‘the surfer boy she fell in love with when she was a teenager, in many of her comics, because “he’s his own person, a grown-up, and I don’t want to put words into his mouth”. ) So does donning several hats come easily to her? "I have literally no idea. On my best days I juggle well, we’re all happy healthy and well-loved. My creativity flourishes. On the worst days the exact opposite happens. Those days are not creative, but we can hug all around and declare a do-over. With a hug, even the worst days are still pretty good. I love being with my family, I thrive when I’m being creative. These days I’m writing novels, it’s what I do in my 20 minutes of down time", she says.  ( Is she any of the characters portrayed in her comics? No, I am Heather. I am three dimensional, living and breathing, and full color most days. I do not wear a mask (though I did a few times back in grad school about 10 years ago) I don’t wear a cape and I do not have goddess delusions, really. ) "I joke with my family and close friends that my work is adored by a small handful of people around the world", says Heather on the response she has received from people for her work. "I loved that four years ago I could produce a book of comics and sell five. One to Estonia, 1 to Australia, Uk and Canada. 1 to Arizona. The internet is awesome. I adore my handful of fans. I truly do. And every time a mother writes to me and tells me that my comics made her brave enough to feed her baby while she was out and about during her day, or that they made her consider breastfeeding in the first place—that’s one of the best feelings in the world". ( I am judgmental about the corporations that push infant formula. Total jerks! ) Heather, for now, has a her hands full with present chores and plans for the future. "I have so many comics I plan to bundle them according to subject matter. The Mega Awesome Book of In Your Face Breastfeeding Comics contains the sassiest comics. The upcoming : Super Delicious Book of Sweet, Sweet Breastfeeding Comics will contain the ones that make one go, Ahhhh, that’s sweet".  ( All images used with the permission of Heather Cushman-Dowdee )
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