Photographer Celia Sanchez felt like an outsider as a young mom. She became a mom at age 23 but had many run-ins with fellow parents that she wouldn’t forget any time soon.
“When I would take my children to day care, I felt kind of … like I didn’t look like the other moms,” Sanchez said for Up Worthy. “They were much older than me. I just felt kind of separated from them. I would get a lot of ‘Oh you’re so young to be a mom,’ ‘You don’t really look like a mom,’ and I always thought that was a silly thing to say:
‘Oh you don’t look like a mom.'”
Then, Sanchez decided to reach out to friends and strangers for a powerful portrait project.
“I’m not a woman of words,” said Sanchez, a portrait photographer. “I like to show people.”
Her photo series “Devoted” features “non-typical” mothers and their children. With body art, bold hair and amazing clothes, these moms don’t look like typical moms at all at first glance. But that is the point actually.
For three years, she has shot portraits of thee women alone and also with their children. Sanchez hopes that the juxtaposition will make people reconsider their first impressions.
“I knew mothers who didn’t look like a ‘typical mom,’ and I always wanted to photograph them and feature them and show that you don’t have to look a certain way to be a mom,” she said.
Many of these moms have tattoos which are very common even for parents.
According to a 2015 Harris poll, nearly half (47%) of millennials and more than a third (36%) of Gen Xers surveyed reported having a tattoo. And respondents with children were nearly twice as likely to have a tattoo as those without children (43% vs. 21%).
Brian Poole and his wife Meg, run Parents With Tattoos on Facebook and Poole says that his run-ins with those critical of his body art aren’t so bad but they still happen.
“I don’t get a lot of comments, but I get a lot of snide looks. You can definitely tell people from their body language, the way that they look at you,” he says.
“We’ve actually been, me and my wife, have actually been turned down from renting houses. … And it’s like, ‘Come on. It’s 2016. I would think we’d move past that.'”
But some other people haven’t and that’s why project like “Devoted” are important to be shared with the world.
Not all parents look the same and they shouldn’t. Sanchez still continues to work on her project to celebrate these strong and beautiful mothers.
“I just wanted to show women — mothers — who weren’t … sacrificing their personal style,” Sanchez says. “Being a mom, you get lost in your children and I really love the fact that these women didn’t lose themselves. They didn’t lose their identities. They’re still themselves. They’re still great parents.”
Raising kids is already very hard even without judgment so next time you see a mom who just doesn’t fit your idea of a parent, check yourself. It takes a lot of village to rise a child and everyone who cares about that child is just as awesome.