Built around ideals of slow living and modern motherhood, Mother Muse is a bi-annual coffee table book that is a favourite at Glasshouse, loved especially by Glasshouse founder Olivia Crighton for its open and honest portrayal of motherhood in all its complexities.
After becoming a mother at a young age, model Shereen Jupp found little inspiration in traditional mother and baby magazines and made it her personal mission to create a publication that offered a more modern narrative to motherhood. The result is a publication that celebrates motherhood in all forms, combining artistic flair with fashion and lifestyle content, and insightful interviews from mothers around the world. The raw, emotional and intimate photography of each woman featured captures both the beauty and vulnerability of becoming a mother.
In conversation with Olivia, Shereen told us more about the story behind Mother Muse, and her thoughts on the pressure many women feel to be a ‘perfect mum’.
When I became pregnant, I was drawn to Mother Muse as it was one of the few publications that represented mothers as multi-dimensional, real women. What was your motivation for starting this project?
Mother Muse was inspired through my motherhood journey when I first gave birth to my beautiful daughter Adaline Rose. I struggled with postpartum depression being a young mother and not resonating with the things I loved prior to motherhood. The motivation for me was creating something I needed for myself, thus Mother Muse was born - a coffee table book devoted to mothers.
How does slow living fit within the life of the modern mother?
To me it means simple living and being a minimalist - I’ve always believed less is more. I also feel slow living is intertwined with living in the moment and taking a deep breath in those moments. My husband and I love nature and being outdoors and traveling I feel that is all somewhat sewed together as a mother and as a parent. I want my children to be brought up that way - less consumption and making more memories as a family.
I feel sometimes mothers are guilty of concealing parts of their experiences with their children from their friends and associates, perhaps due to risk of judgment or unwanted advice. Do you feel we live in a social climate that allows mothers to be honest and open with each other?
Absolutely, I believe it’s okay that we do our journeys differently and at our pace. There should be no judgement as long as the children are healthy, nourished and loved it’s okay to keep your opinions to yourself unless asked.
What prompted your recent ‘fed is best’ campaign?
It’s a personal photo essay that celebrates both forms of nourishing: breastfeeding and formula feeding. I breastfed both my babies up until 4 months due to low milk supply and being anaemic. When I had my daughter I dived deep into postpartum depression due to breastfeeding, I remember pumping for hours and not even getting out 50ml. My daughter was born 8 pounds and went down to 5 pounds and I felt so judged by the nurses around me and I finally introduced formula and still pumped just so I could offer her what I had. After that experience I told myself my daughter feels my love no matter what, it’s an everlasting bond. I believe formula feeding is a very sensitive untouched topic still where mothers feel a huge sense of guilt that can lead to horrible postpartum. My campaign is to celebrate those mothers and to express to them you are a great mother don’t be so hard on yourself. At the end of the day as women and as mothers we need to support one another and not judge each other.
Where do you think the pressure to be a ‘perfect mum’ comes from?
From ourselves and social media.
Raising children is wonderful, but it can obviously sometimes be tiring and challenging. How do you find the time to invest in yourself and your creative dream?
It’s still a learning process and still a challenge. I run the publication on my own without childcare and I feel at the moment my life is beautiful chaos. My daughter is 2 and my son is almost 8 months they rule my world and organise my day. When I get any time to work it’s during night or when my husband is able to watch them, I am hoping it will get easier but never give up on your dreams. It’s very important to balance that into your life no matter what.
I’ve seen that the Mother Muse Instagram is constantly at odds with Instagram’s ban on uncensored nipples. Why do you feel that this is an important issue to keep trying to tackle, even when your images may be frequently removed as a result?
My images are removed so often on Instagram, sometimes they are removed even when no breast is showing at all. I think somehow we still live in a time where motherhood is deeply censored and I think that’s ridiculous, it’s the most natural beautiful form and I will always challenge Instagram on it.
Has becoming a mother changed your perception of femininity as a whole?
Yes, our eyes say so much after we become mothers. I see mothers in a very different light. I see their vulnerability, their beauty, their sadness and their strength. Femininity in a sense of it’s beautiful seeing a mother nurture her baby and seeing how the mother figure changes; it’s new, it’s feminine it’s strong.
What are the most important values that you want to pass on to your daughter?
Strength to achieve and believe in her goals, strength to believe in her inner and outer beauty, I want her to acknowledge she is beautiful and never to compare herself to others. I want her to know girls have the power to do anything and that being a male or female has nothing to do with a person’s strengths.
Who or where do you go to for advice?
You can see more Mother Muse articles and purchase Mother Muse books online here.
All images: Mother Muse Magazine