January 11, 2010

Barefoot & Pregnant: Time's 1960 Women Of The Year

time_that_population_1960.jpg

This was the cover of Time Magazine fifty years ago today, January 11, 1960. That's when Our American Way Of Life was under siege from "That Population Explosion," which was apparently the fault of "Those Constantly Pregnant Women And Their Bare-Assed Savage Kids."

Wow, reading the article, it's a mix of seeming level-headedness, WTF anachronisms, and White Guy Panic:

Birth control advocates and research scientists look ahead to "the pill" --the still-undiscovered oral contraceptive cheap enough to suit the pocketbooks of impoverished Latinos, Asians and Africans and simple enough to be understood by all.

...

India still echoes to the sexual dictum of Gandhi that "union is a crime when desire for progeny is absent." In Pakistan the standard male reaction to birth control is "a man must have children or he is not a man."

...

Both in Japan, where doctors performed a million legal abortions last year, and in Puerto Rico, where women have become so enthusiastic about sterilization that it is known simply as "la operation," the slowdown in population increase is often attributed to a rising level of education and economic wellbeing. But to the confusion of the experts came the unforeseen baby boom in the postwar U.S.--at a time when education and incomes were at an alltime high. The boom shows no sign of abating.

...

In the U.S., most economists cite the baby boom as one of their reasons for business optimism: in the short run, the 4,400,000 infants to be born during 1960 mean $3 billion more in the till for manufacturers of baby food, clothing, furniture, toys, and accessories.

Population: The Numbers Game [time.com via theawl]

4 Comments

I'd kind of like to have that cover art. Look at all the babywearing!

Is that weird? Do they sell that?

I don't think it's weird to want the cover art. I love it.

What I want to know is, what was the reaction at the time? Because if you published that today there would be an explosion of outrage about the breastfeeding that is happening all bare-breasted there in the middle, and then a reactionary explosion about the outrage.

fwiw, the next week, there was a letter to the editor complaining that the only thing missing from the population explosion illustration was "a man--the cause of it all."

also, you can buy prints of the cover from an outfit called barewalls.com. Though personally, I'd rather have the original vintage magazine from ebay.

The painting itself was done by veteran Time artist Boris Chaliapin. Apparently, there was an exhibition of a freshly discovered stash of his original paintings and portraits at a library in Greenwich last spring. The naked breasts and baby butts on the cover resulted in an arrest warrant for the artist in Canada for corrupting the youth, and Nelson Rockefeller denounced the "virus of pornographic Communism seeping into our red blood stream." What a riot.

Copy available here on ebay -- http://cgi.ebay.com/Time-Magazine-The-Population-Explosion-January-11-1960_W0QQitemZ350225519222QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMagazines?hash=item518b115276 -- would look great framed in a nursery!

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