Having it All. In France. 100 Years Ago.

Thanks to my dear friend Kevin for sending this Slate article to me. I’ve included the intro paragraph and a most relevant section on breastfeeding while working – in 1909!

Having It All. In France. 100 Years Ago. [FROM SLATE]
Turns out the work-life balance debate was raging in Belle Époque magazines, too.

By Rachel Mesch  Posted Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, at 9:09 AM ET on Slate

At first blush, recent discussions about women “having it all” seem to be uniquely American and of this time: the product of our overachieving society, capitalism, and the constant pressure to succeed. But it’s also a product of the mass media and its particular, visual pressures upon women. This, then, is not a new phenomenon. It actually originated more than 100 years ago in France, where both photography and film were invented, and arguably celebrity culture as well (think Sarah Bernhardt).

———————-

This striking cover by the beloved artist Paul Cesar Helleu assimilated breast-feeding with traditional French elegance. Some of the most popular women’s fiction of the time discussed the challenges of nursing for the female professional. Sound familiar? In a 1909 novel, a rising legal star runs off to nurse in between court sessions; in another, the protagonist is a brilliant doctor whose child dies after the nanny adds water to breast milk while Maman is off seeing patients.

12-Femina-1906-1-nov-Couver

Photo courtesy Rachel Mesch.

Read the full article here.

My thoughts: It’s helpful when reminded that we’re facing a ton of media and societal pressure to step back and try to re-connect with what we really want. However, we can never completely separate our “really wants” from social expectations and, boy, is that inconvenient.

Good news: We’re creating a space to help women work, care for their children, and perhaps more importantly, connect with other women and talk about what it’s like trying to “have it all” today.

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