Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ample Women in Artwork: Breastfeeding, Part 3

Lebasque 1905

Earlier, we lamented how difficult it is to find breastfeeding images of women of size.

We posted a gallery of photos submitted by readers to show that fat women can and do breastfeed, contrary to some media messages and resulting misperceptions.

We also posted 2 sets of images (Part One and Part Two) from classical and modern art showing plus-sized women breastfeeding.

This is Part Three of the same series, with more art images of "obese" and "overweight" women breastfeeding their children (or in some cases, being wet nurses to other people's children).

Remember, it's impossible to determine someone's BMI from a photo so all we can do is make our best guess.  Most of these women seem to me to be at least in the "overweight" category, and some in the "obese" category.  Look for more rounded chins, wider bodies, a bit more around the middle or the hips, heavier arms. In my judgment, they all qualify as different degrees of "ample" ─ and they are all beautiful.

The point is that women of size can and do breastfeed, and have done so throughout history, as evidenced by breastfeeding artwork.  Are breastfeeding rates in obese women too low now?  Yes, and we need to work to raise them.  But providers and breastfeeding advocates need to be careful that their messages about this do not become transformed in the public's mind to "fat women can't or don't breastfeed."  The truth is that many of us do, as have many women of size in the past.

Elizabeth Norse

Rubens 1614

old American postcard

Lilla Cabot Perry 1906

Maurice Asselin


Eugene Carriere 1897

Armand Rassenfosse

Kate Hansen


Francisco Zuñiga

Mary Cassatt

Zanaida Serebryakova, 1912

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