Victorian Moms Loved to Be Photographed Breastfeeding


The woman who posed on the cover of Time totally stole her breastfeeding act from Victorian moms. Respect. (Although I’m firmly of the opinion that the kid in the photo on the left is actually that woman’s husband.) (Or a time traveling Dom DeLuise.) (RIP.)

From Sociological Images:

And as Jill Lepore explains in The Mansion of Happiness, it’s just the latest round in the changing discourse about breastfeeding; in the mid-1800s, images of breastfeeding mothers became a fad in the U.S. The use of wet nurses had never been as common in the U.S. as in Europe, and it became even less popular by the early 1800s; breastfeeding your own child became a central measure of your worth as a mother. Cultural constructions of femininity became highly centered on motherhood and the special bond between a mother and her children in the Victorian era.

And as daguerreotypes became increasingly available, mothers were all about capturing their breastfeeding in fun family photographs. While breastfeeding’s popularity waxes and wanes — sometimes maligned as unfeminine and uncivilized and sometimes hailed as the best, cheapest, and safest baby-nutrition around — it’s safe to say that these photos will never go out of style.

[Sociological Images]

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