Womanhood is a journey with multiple roles, responsibilities and identities that manifest at different stages.
Anquinette Hill held to her personal values between motherhood, breastfeeding and womanhood with an introspective sense of awareness throughout the process.
Taking paint night to a whole other level, she has opened doors for women to explore and embrace their femininity through fun and creative ways to de-stigmatize their relationship with their sexuality.
In honour of breastfeeding awareness month, we had the pleasure of chatting with Anquinette for Black breastfeeding week. She has graciously shared some of her most vulnerable moments of how she held true to herself in the face of cultural barriers in her breastfeeding journey.
Join her as she shares her challenges, triumphs and how her role in motherhood gave her strength and courage to step into her true essence as a woman.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, WHO YOU ARE, AND WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
One thing immediately stood out... Patience. Being a mother is by far the most exciting part of my life. However, I currently have a toddler so it’s brutal as well. Moms know what I mean... Coming from being a wild and free owner of a nightclub to becoming a stay a home mom, I honestly surprised myself with how well I adjusted. I wanted life to stop for a moment to take it all in. I never missed my past life and I immediately wanted more kids. My purpose became so clear I was created to be a mom.
WE LOVE HOW TRANSPARENT YOU ARE IN YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH MOTHERHOOD, WOULD YOU SAY MOTHERHOOD IS SYNONYMOUS OR SEPARATE FROM WOMANHOOD?
Motherhood forced me into womanhood... I gracefully skipped into the woman I was destined to be but to say it wasn’t hard and bumpy would be a lie. You now have this amazing little person watching your every move. Not only do you want to teach & nurture them but you also want to become the best version of you so they in return will strive to become the same. My womanhood was definitely inspired by my motherhood.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY AND HOW IT IMPACTED YOUR IDENTITY?
There still is this stigma around breastfeeding. Maybe it’s because breasts have been over sexualized and people are not used to the idea that they are actually on our bodies for the purpose of supplying milk. In my journey, I was actually criticized more than I was supported for a decision that came to me so naturally. I simply refused to allow the opinions and criticisms of others influence my decision to do what I felt was best for my baby. So, to all the mom’s reading this, do not be deterred, discouraged, or embarrassed. What you are doing is completely natural so keep going! YOU know what’s best for you and your baby
Breastfeeding in the black community is not as cool to people as you think. I’m criticized more than I’m supported, made fun of and more importantly judged by family and friends. You wouldn’t believe the criticism I receive on a daily basis but I never let that influence my decision to nourish my baby.
Now fast forward to him being three months shy of his third birthday and i’m still nursing. I hear “when are you going to stop” everyday. To all the women reading this, keep going if YOU want to, only you know what’s best for your baby.
Anquinette Hill nursing her son West
FACT: Black Breastfeeding Week grew out of the need to highlight the particular challenges and triumphs of being Black and breastfeeding. While the challenges of breastfeeding are many, the creators of Black Breastfeeding Week wanted to use this time—the last seven days of August—to bring awareness to disparities in breastfeeding rates among black women as compared with other groups. Kimberly Sears co-founder highlights the areas of awareness that are in need of attention as follows:
The high infant mortality rate of Black babies - Black babies are dying at twice the rate (in some places, nearly triple the rate) of white babies.
High Rates of Diet-Related Disease - breast milk has been proven to reduce the risk of health issues that are highest in Black communities including Type 2 Diabetes, Asthma, Childhood Obesity and SIDS
Lack of Diversity in the Lactation Field - Breastfeeding advocacy is white-female led. This perpetuates the common misconception that black women don’t breastfeed. As a result, many of the lactation professionals, though well-intentioned, are not culturally competent, sensitive, or relevant enough to properly deal with Black Mothers experience of Mothering.
Cultural Barriers within the Black community - Black women have unique cultural barriers and a complex history connected to breastfeeding. To the lack of mainstream role models and multi-generational support , to stereotyping within their own community— Black women have a different dialogue around breastfeeding and it needs special attention.
WHAT WERE THE MAJOR CHALLENGES YOU FACED WHEN BREASTFEEDING WEST?
West latched on in the hospital and never looked back. The only thing I would have changed was introducing the bottle more. He eventually refused bottles and prepackaged milk. Yes, homeboy has the nerve to only want fresh milk. We had somehow became inseparable and doing anything outside of him was impossible. By the way, I haven’t slept like a baby since November 14, 2017 is that normal? Lol
NOW THAT YOU ARE ON YOUR WEANING JOURNEY WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF DURING THIS PHASE?
I’m learning to be gentle with this process and take my time. It’s no rush. No one can rush you to finish this race. It’s between me and the kid and we got this! Yes that’s my actually pep talk. .
FACT: “Women regularly experience shaming over breastfeeding in public, due in part to the unnecessary sexualizing of women’s breasts. Fear and discomfort over being objectified by assuming glares are further heightened by the hyper-sexualizing of women of colour. Navigating respectability politics and a long history of being separated from their babies also makes breastfeeding taboo in many Black households.” - Ms. Magazine, Alexis Bragg
HOW DO YOU STAY TRUE TO YOUR ESSENCE AS A PERSON IN MOTHERHOOD?
Preserving my energy so I can stay true to myself. A close friend shared something with me a couple of years ago and whenever in doubt I think about this… If it’s not a Hell Yes it’s a No. I use this for everything! Another very important aspect is indulging in self care. I don’t feel guilty for taking a couple of hours to take a bubble bath alone or have a spicy adult sip and paint, @exhibithsv has the best at home kits.
HOW HAS YOUR ART INFLUENCED YOUR WELLBEING, AND WHY HAVE YOU CHOSEN TO SHARE THAT WITH OTHER WOMEN?
I use photography as my escape into my own creative world where rules are exempt. If femininity and vulnerability could collide I’d imagine I’d be there eating a strawberry ice cream cone. I started sharing my life looking for answers and hoping to find my own tribe outside of my home. Now it’s amazing to see my story has inspired more women to try breastfeeding.
You can be sexy and still be a great mom. You can love sex and still be a great mom! Do not let them tell you otherwise.
WHAT DREW YOU TO MAYANA GENEVIÈRE AND WHAT RESONATES MOST WITH YOU ABOUT OUR BRAND?
You care about moms feeling confident and sexy. Your line is for the mom who still wants to feel and look amazing while she nurses. The bodysuit is heaven sent. The way it hugs my curves to create this hour glass figure but is completely still functional for nursing is brilliant. You are amazing Lady.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU? WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE OUR AUDIENCE TO KNOW?
I’m so glad you asked. I have the perfect self care indulgence for women to feel sexy & liberated. Find out more at www.exhibithsv.com
HOW CAN PEOPLE STAY CONNECTED WITH YOUR JOURNEY?
Follow me @missquinette & I love DMs contact me anytime ladies.
VIDEO INTERVIEW: CHECK OUT ANQUINETTE’S TAKE ON CREATIVITY, BREASTFEEDING & MOTHERHOOD
The Nayana Bodysuit is a sexy wardrobe staple that will give you shaping support in all the right places.
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