Friday, December 7, 2012

What to Expect to Wear when You're Expectng

So what does a young lady who is in that "motherly way" expect to wear when she's expecting?  Well back in early to mid-70s, social conventions were quite clear on this point.  You had to wear the maternity "uniform" which consisted of certain standard features, along with a few acceptable options. 

The goal of the "uniform" was two fold:  one was to send a clear, unmistakable signal that the women is indeed pregnant, and the other was to do so in a modest and reserved manner (or at least as modest as possible under the circumstance).  So basically the uniform said in effect "Yes, I am pregnant and no, you can't put your hand on my belly".   Of course, now women don't worry about it too much.  They just flaunt their "baby bump" (I hate that term, so impersonal) for all the world to see.  You see models and celebrities posing nude, for Christ's sake, proudly displaying their "bump" - kind of like a rancher showing off a prize heifer or something.

So where did a young, expectant mother in those times go to find the socially acceptable options for the maternity "uniform"?  Well, naturally, the Big Book catalogs! After all, they had products for almost every aspect of life.  In fact they served a kind of pre-electronic internet shopping service.  They displayed what could be bought at the big city stores (browsing) and, more importantly, they provided a way for people in small towns and rural areas to have access to those same products (mail order).  Many a small town had a small Sears store that served as a place to place orders and pick them up.  Those little stores have, of course, long since vanished from the landscape of Middle America. 

Let's take the representable example of the "uniform" below....

We have all the basic features of the standard issue maternity uniform: smock style shirt with lots of room to politely shield the growing baby from view - check, the polyester stretch pants for comfort during the ordeal - check, the "pretty" detail feature on the smock (optional feature) - check, the vertical striping to help the woman appear slimmer (optional feature) - check.   

Let's check out another photo from the JCP maternity shop.....

Once again we have all of the standard features of the maternity uniform on display.  However, here the models in this shot don't look all that thrilled at being pregnant (or pretending to be pregnant).  Not sure why except perhaps a woman is supposed to be more subdued and introspective during this time - kind of like a monk pondering the meaning of life or something. 

I love that this shot is outdoors in a park setting and that Kathy is holding some flowers.  Oh yea, that is such a common thing for pregnant women to do.  Maybe they were trying to re-create that special "glow" that everyone talks about.  Yea, I remember that "glow" like when my wife threw up constantly, or when she made me cook dinner and eat outside, or the wild hormonal swings.  Yea THAT must be the "glow" people talk about.

Or maybe they were going for a more artistic shot with tension created by the juxtaposition of the light and airy springtime setting against the somber, rather grey mood of the models.  Okay, maybe that is just me reading too much into it.  

Let's move on....

Yes, I know.  Kathy is not in this shot.  However it does feature other members of the "K Club" as I like to call it.  In this pic, Kay and Colleen are featured.  Also, I had this pic in my achieve and probably won't be able to use it in any other post so why not? 

And after the little tykster is hatched, the Big Book catalogs were there to provide you with all your baby care needs.  Check these out!
Safety first!  It's a wonder any of us survived childhood with these around!

Sometimes even the most loving parents need to able to lock 'em up and take a break!

Some how the pulse of life survived the early 70s. And thank goodness it did.  After all the disco era awaited all!

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