LCF23: The honest story of single motherhood by Alisha Roe-Lamb
- Written byJ Tilley
- Published date 28 February 2023
LCF Postgraduate Class of 2023 features work from our three world-leading design, communications and business schools to demonstrate how LCF students look beyond the traditional notions of fashion to imagine a new and exciting future. We're finding out more about work from this year's graduating cohort. In light of International Womens Day 2023, we're highlighting the work from MA Fashion Photography graduate, Alisha Roe-Lamb, who has explored the true story behind single motherhood through a series of photographs.
"It was important for me to create a celebration of single motherhood, showing the vulnerable, the raw and the moments that are cherished the most. This is presented throughout a combination of self-portraits with my daughter alongside staged documentary imagery of inspirational single mothers who are reshaping societies outdated perceptions of lone parenthood."
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
International women’s day to me is a celebration of all women from different races, cultures, careers and lifestyles. A day where every woman feels represented for the journey they are on, reflecting on all the challenges they have faced and overcome, no matter how little or big these obstacles are.
It’s a very important day as we continue to get our stories seen and voices heard. Pinpointing the issues that still need work for positive change as we continue to strive for equality and banish any discrimination in a multitude of areas. This is a day where we can all come together to support our favourite female creators, female owned businesses and take time to acknowledge the incredible women in our own lives.
Tell us about ‘The Beauty in the Struggle of Single Motherhood’ – why did you decide to dedicate your final project to sharing an honest modern-day representation of single motherhood.
The Beauty in the Struggle of Single Motherhood focuses on the lives of working-class single mothers, giving them the chance to share their stories not depicted of what is shown in the media. The aim was to create a modern-day representation of strength, growth, challenges and determination through photography. It was important for me to create a celebration of single motherhood, showing the vulnerable, the raw and the moments that are cherished the most. This is presented throughout a combination of self-portraits with my daughter alongside staged documentary imagery of inspirational single mothers who are reshaping societies outdated perceptions of lone parenthood. This series of images represents the many changes that women may face within their own journeys of motherhood due to ongoing challenges such as identity crises, unattainable childcare costs, financial struggles, personal relationships breaking down, and homelessness. This project stems from my personal experience, reflecting the struggles I've faced with unexpectedly becoming a single mother, rebuilding my identity alongside trying to attain a career/education. Every women’s experience of single motherhood is completely different. It was important for me to show that we do not conform to one single stereotype.
Could you share the ‘harmful stereotypes’ that were once reflected in the media? Why was this and how/do you believe things are changing?
The majority of lone parents have received stigma or had negative assumptions made about them. Single mothers were once portrayed in the media as lazy and undereducated, portrayed as if they gave birth to their children in order to scrounge from the government, that they will never achieve anything in life expect motherhood, and it was assumed that their children would follow the same path. This is just a very small selection of what once dominated the media in relation to single parents. I still see so much stigma today, not as negative but there is definitely a big divide in how people treat single mothers. I believe times are really changing, and we are seeing some of these outdated views being banished, but I believe there is still so much work to do. We are still judged on the way we dress; act and our careers are scrutinised as soon as people find out we are single mothers, we are often treated as if this defines the whole of our identities. I know so many incredible single mothers to young children, who working multiple jobs with the aim of building their dream careers. This is why I believe continuing this project could help so many young single mothers feel represented, reminding them that their struggles build resilience and motivation to achieve more in life, not just for themselves but their children too, and one day the struggle will be worthwhile.
It’s interesting that you have explored the domestic environments of working-class women from a diverse range of areas – what led you to take a documentary approach to your project?
I feel that documentary photography is one to the most powerful mediums when it comes to portraying topics that are underrepresented or misunderstood within the media. So, for me to create authentic work I wanted these domestic spaces play a massive part in this narrative, as they speak volumes around the journeys of women’s lives pre and post motherhood. I believe within the lives of working-class women, the important elements in their homes are more sentimental than materialistic. Each item represents a different stage of who they once were combined with a reminder of the challenges we have overcome recently. It’s the place where they grow together with their children, the place where they are most vulnerable, and also where the happiest moments are shared.
What are you most looking forward to about life after graduation? What are your plans and what would be your dream job?
I plan to work on this project for the next six months to a year, with the aim of creating a photography book exploring a raw, honest & refreshing insight into single motherhood. I aim to be working on this independent project alongside freelance work. My dream job is being a full-time freelance photographer, as I am very versatile with the work I produce. So ideally, I will be creating strong bodies of work from fashion to portrait and documentary. I'm very excited to have a job I can balance with my home life; the dream is creating a stable income from my talent whilst being able to support my daughter at home. I feel fortunate that I’m constantly meeting such incredible women within my personal work, as this keeps me inspired and motivated, reminding me that this is just the beginning of my journey post master's degree.
And finally, how would you describe your time at LCF in 3 words…
Supportive, Challenging, Empowering.
- View more work from LCF Postgraduate Degree Show 2023
- View more work of Alisha's work on the UAL Graduate Showcase.
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