*March is Women’s History Month. And one family demonstrated a creative and educational way to honor black women and teach their child about them at the same time. Photographer Marc Bushelle and his computer-programmer wife, Janine Harper dressed and posed their 5-year old daughter Lily as extraordinary women such as Toni Morrison, Grace Jones, and astronaut Mae Jemison. The stunning results, posted on Bushelle’s Facebook Facebook page, has been “Liked” by hundreds and is getting comments that define the images as “inspiring.”
“We try to come up with ideas together as a family,” Bushelle tells Yahoo Parenting of choosing the subjects of their portrait sessions at home in his Brooklyn, New York studio. “Then we have a discussion about the heroine we’re going to cover. We often show Lily video of the woman, too, and do a bit of reading on her together. So it’s not just us teaching Lily — we’re sharing in the learning, too.”
The photographer explains that the project was initially to honor Black History Month, but it sounds like it morphed into something bigger. “It is always challenging when trying to explain complex things to a child,” the photographer told NPR. “I feel that turning a history lesson into a dress-up game is a good way to approach it.”
And they didn’t stop there.
Lily learned the back-story of each extraordinary woman behind the outfit; and her parents tailored the stories to her kindergarten level. “Due to her age, I am shielding her from a lot of the violence, but we try to discuss injustice,” says Harper, who adds that the takeaway of each tale remains the same.
“We hope that by making these associations early we will instill a strong pride in her that will fortify her against any discrimination she may face in the future,” Lily’s mom shares.
I’m sure the fact that Lily enjoys the experience so much makes it easier, too. “To tell you the truth, it’s hard to get her to take off the outfits sometimes,” admits Bushelle. “She really enjoys being able to dress up and act and embody these heroines.” The youngster is “pretty much in awe of them,” he adds. “She thinks each of them is ‘very cool,’ to put it in her words.” And the fact that it’s dad taking the photos makes the typically half-hour long snap-sessions, well, a snap. “Obviously with her father being a photographer, I’ve been holding a camera in front of her since she was born. So she feels very comfortable and it’s a great family thing that we can do together.”
Only time will show what influence this short experience will have on Lily; or whether she will follow in her photographer-dad’s footsteps. But her father says, “I’m really happy that the stories of these heroines seem to be sinking in a bit,” adding that if the women inspire her career someday, “that’d be fantastic.” Ultimately, he says, “I’d hope Lily would choose something she loves. And I’d want to make sure that she has a choice of what she can do. If it’s up to me, I’d want her to shoot for the moon.”
Watch the video below or visit Yahoo Parenting to see more heroine poses.