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Family Expectations

Even pregnancy did not preclude the sexualization of women’s bodies or the expectation for women to maintain shapely figures through active participation in diet and exercise [Figure 3]. Although ads and magazine articles encouraged both men and women to uphold and enforce particular beauty standards for the pregnant female body, the popular discourse about sex limited the act to the domestic sphere, as a natural precursor for family formation.


For these mainstream texts, marriage was the prerequisite for sex, and sex was for reproductive purposes, not recreational ones [Figure 1, Figure 4]. Even intimations of sex, such as depictions of a man and a woman on a bed, had to be explicit about their family-friendly meaning [Figure 2]. The assumption that motherhood was tied to family duties also influenced societal demands that pregnant mothers maintain their responsibilities as primary homemakers and caretakers to their husbands and other children [Figure 3].