The prime years of adulthood —reproduction
Adulthood may be subdivided into the separate stages of «Prime» (also referred to as maximum performance age), «Transition or degeneration age», and «Senescence» or old age. Adulthood prime (maximal performance age) begins when growth in height terminates or the velocity slows to an almost imperceptible rate. For women this occurs, on average, by 18-20 years and for men the typical ages are 20-23 years. The Prime adult years continue until about age 30-35 years in both sexes. These years are notable for their stability and predictability in physical and cognitive performance, also called homeostasis by biologists. Prime adults have considerable resilience to insults from injury and illness. Mental, emotional, physical, social, and economic skills achieve maximum functioning. Linguistic abilities in all aspects of spoken language are fully mature, written language (when present) may improve throughout the adult stage. Prime adults are best suited to apply their physical, social, economic, linguistic, and cognitive abilities to success in mating, reproduction and care of offspring. In brief, prime adulthood is about reproduction and production.
The images above reflect the reproduction and offspring care of Prime adults. «Mother and child» is an Indian stone relief carving from the 11th or 12th century A.D. This is one of a special group of sculptures where a reclining, bejewelled female figure is shown on a cot, her head placed on the left hand and a lily (utpala) held in the righthand, while an infant is shown lying close to her. A female attendant shampoos her left foot. According to art historian Gouriswar Bhattacharya in the chapter Iconography of stone sculptures (in History of Bangladesh. Early Bengal in regional Perspectives (up to c. 1200 CE) (2018) the mother figure is Gauri and the infant is the newborn Siva. The size difference between the attendant and the mother suggests that the mother is of much higher social status, reinforcing the interpretation that she is a goddess. The mother seems to be admiring her infant. It is not clear is breast-feeding is finished or is about to occur.
The bottom two images leave no doubt that breast-feeding is taking place, at least the ideology of breast-feeding! On the left is a 1993 print ad featuring a model simulating the breastfeeding of a «Rent-a-Baby». The ad campaign was intended to sell Bisou Bisou’s trendy clothing. The simulation of breast-feeding was to draw attention. On her website Mamas Milk No Chaser’ writes, «In November, 2014 (more than two decades after its original release) the ad became the featured campaign on the clothing brand’s web site. Perhaps attempting to ride the coattails of breastfeeding as it recently came back into fashion, but no harm done —any kind of normalization is still normalization. So thank you, BB!». On the right is an example from photographer/daddy Hector Cruz’s campaign in support of breastfeeding Project: Breastfeeding. It is reported that Cruz’s wife struggled with nursing their infant: «Cruz hoped to get people talking about how much help new breastfeeding mothers actually DO need (a lot!) and get their non-lactating partners to start questioning how they CAN help. However, I’m curious as to why he couldn’t reserve billboard space to show dads scrubbing dishes, brewing a pot of lactation tea, or handling calls from the lactation consultant while their partners breastfeed the baby?» Indeed, men in their prime adult years can provide these and many other important forms of physical, economic, social, and emotional support to their partners and offspring. [Barry Bogin]