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Breasts are integral to mothers' bodies; over the life course, they can swell, droop, be judged, be aroused, lactate, be altered, be removed.
A woman's own breasts may be foremost in her mind during some life events, only to recede into the background at other times.
Breasts are complex; they are enveloped by larger cultural meanings that go far beyond their mammary gland function, and we cannot fully understand breasts without examining the myriad discourses surrounding them.
Social policies, cultural norms, and interpersonal interactions all help construct localized breast discourses which, in turn, shape mothers' breast experiences.
Through examining commonalities and differences over the lifespan, we can see that women's breast experiences inform us about the social conditions in which women live their lives. The chapters in this volume bring together perspectives from Spain, Brazil, Canada, and the United States, among other countries.
They include historical and contemporary examinations, and feature diverse types of writing such as first-person narrative accounts, academic interviews, and art analyses.
Contributors come from an array of fields including nursing, sociology, English, art history, and psychology.
Each chapter offers readers a unique context for understanding how temporally- and geographically-situated breast understandings shape mothers' personal breast views and breast-related body practices.
Taken together, the chapters in this edited collection reveal the significant ways that societies shape mothers' embodied experiences and breasted selves.
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