Thursday, September 6, 2007

What do you think of these my man?

Do you look after your breasts?
Unknown artist, 1930

This is a very famous poster, which shows the versatility of topics covered by the Soviet poster art.

It says: “Do you look after your breasts? Temper your breasts in cold water daily!” In the late twenties industrialization in heavy industry and collectivization in agriculture forced many peasants to migrate to cities and to become workers at factories and plants. Rural habits were useless in industry centers, so peasants had to adjust themselves to new customs.

Hygiene was one of the most acute problems in the cities with rapidly expanding population. Nicolay Semashko (1874-1949) was the first Narkom (minister) of Health Service (1918-1930), who defined the principles of water supply provision, disinfection, personal hygiene and other social services necessary for healthy development of the society. During his life time Semashko wrote more than 250 of works covering these topics, established a chair of hygiene in Moscow State University, organized a separate Hygiene university later, and did a great job of improving social and hygienic conditions in underdeveloped and traditional regions of Chuvashia, Bashkiria, Tataria, Dagestan and other North Caucasus areas. His invaluable input was one of the reasons, why in the thirties he was not repressed like many other officials, but was promoted to become a member of All-Russian Central Executive Committee, with his main assignment to organize orphanages and to make maternity care system.

This poster was a part of the maternity care campaign, which not only promoted personal hygiene, but was also aimed at tempering of female organisms before delivery. At that time it was believed that cold water strengthens mammaries and makes them ready for breast feeding. And today this vintage artwork looks nothing but amazing.