Her Bad Mother

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Motrin Versus The Moms: When Painkillers Are Attacked, Everybody Loses

It's possible that you haven't seen or heard about MotrinGate, but I'll wager that if you haven't, it's because you have enough of a life to not be reading blogs or compulsively checking Twitter on a weekend. If you haven't heard about it - and you aren't interested in going to Twitter and typing #motrinmoms into the search box, at which point you will be exposed to a digital outpouring of maternal outrage the likes of which you have not seen since, oh, the last breastfeeding scandal or the Great Mommy War Debates, Parts I through XIteen, and so on - here's the story: Motrin posted an ad on their website that suggests, none too elegantly, that moms who wear their babies a) are conformist sheep-moms who only wear their babies in order to demonstrate that they're "official moms" (dick fingers implied), and b) need Motrin to help with the pain caused by all that silly babywearing. Because babies are the new Manolos, and are just as likely to cause you crippling pain.

(I've posted the video of the ad below, in case you're dying to see what the fuss is about. You might also check out their ad for children's Motrin, which implies, with insufficient subtlety, that if you're not getting enough sleep, you might want to consider drugging your kids up. You know, with Motrin.)

Of course, the ad is stupid, and deserving of the scorn that has been heaped upon it. But I'm not sure that it's worthy of the scale of outrage that I'm seeing. Which may make me unpopular for the three or four days that this scandal burns its swath across the Internetverse, but so be it.

What's stupid about the ad, obviously, is that it belittles a standard practice of motherhood: carrying one's baby. The suggestion - again, complete with implied dick fingers - that women "endure" babywearing just so that they'll "fit in" with other moms is stupid and offensive. I wore my babies - sometimes with slings, sometimes with Bjorns, sometimes just freestyle - because I could not possibly have had (or have) a life without doing so. Especially with the second, the six-month old who I carry constantly: he loathes being put down, and so my ability to move about the world freely requires that I bind him to my body in some fashion - with fabric, duct tape, or just an old-fashioned curve of the arm - or endure high-pitched shrieking. I don't do this to prove my mommy bona fides. I've got ample scars that prove my mommy bona fides, not to mention a wardrobe of spit and shit-stained clothing, a muffin-top, a short temper and an inability to concentrate on any conversation that doesn't reference potty training or preschooler discipline techniques. These get the point across, I think. I'm so obviously a mom that I'm surprised that random children don't just follow me home from the park. I am EVERYMOM.

But I'm also, in my capacity as a mom, plagued by backaches and neckaches and stiff shoulders and all manner of discomfort related to the toll of days spent packing anywhere from 23 to 60 lbs of kidmeat around on my person,* not to mention the constant crouching and bending and lifting and bending and hoisting and crouching and bending and lifting etc etc etc that comes with the endless cycle of diaper changing and toilet training and shoelace-tying and buckle-fastening and binky-fetching and all the other back-breaking little tasks that are part of motherwork. That shit burns you out, people. It's hard work, and it leaves you sore. It leaves me sore. So the idea that someone might pitch painkillers to my particular demographic isn't really outrageous. Hell, the Motrin people could get together with the Smirnoff's Vodka people and maybe even the Xanax/Ativan people and do a whole collaborative marketing juggernaut aimed at tired/sore/anxiety-ridden moms and I'd probably just roll my eyes and make a note on my calendar to renew some prescriptions and restock the liquor cabinet. So, no, I don't think that the substance of the Motrin campaign is all that worthy of controversy.

It's their delivery that sucked butt, for the reasons I explained above. If you're trying to win over a market, you should maybe try to avoid insulting that market. But we - the quote-unquote market that they've insulted - need to be clear on what exactly it is that we find insulting. The suggestion that packing our kids around might cause a backache or two is not insulting (nor is it particularly damaging, as I've seen some suggest, to the practice of babywearing. Knowing that carrying a baby might cause some shoulder pain won't stop any reasonable parent from babywearing. Knowing that childbirth is painful hasn't stopped women from giving birth, has it?) The suggestion that babywearing is some kind of Stepford Mom conformity exercise is insulting, and it's worth protesting.

But let's keep our focus on the real problems here. The marketing of a painkiller to moms is not a problem. The suggestion (the appalling suggestion) that some or any of the practices of motherhood that might cause mothers to reach for a painkiller are in and of themselves stupid or risible or of dubious merit is a problem, because it makes a mockery of the work of motherhood and so makes a mockery of mothers. It demonstrates that advertisers are still unwilling, for the most part, to consider mothers as anything other than stereotypes: frazzled mom, harried mom, lonely mom, overwhelmed mom. These stereotypes have force because the life of a mom involves all of the components of those stereotypes - I am frazzled and overwhelmed and I will say here, frankly, that I have said to myself on more than one occasion, why the f*$# am I carrying this baby around every minute of every day oh my aching hell - but they become dangerous when they become the sole lens through which moms are viewed.

The only way to fight it is by reminding the culture that we are complex. We are not frazzled harridans griping about pain, but nor are we simply beatific nurturers whose deepest joy and pleasure is derived from carrying babies - light as farts with angel wings - against our ever-trilling mama-hearts. We need to keep broadcasting to the world that we defy simple characterization. Which means tempering our outrage with humor, and tempering our rebuttals with honesty: I'm a mom who wears my baby - and loves it but also sometimes doesn't love it all that much and on those days maybe takes a painkiller or two or maybe just a hot bath and a martini - and I did not approve of that Motrin ad.

Now, somebody pass me the vodka.

*I know that babywearing doesn't cause everyone discomfort. And I've heard it said a thousand times that if you're doing it right, it doesn't hurt. FINE. I've also heard the very same thing said about breastfeeding, and it's just not true. Packing my kids around all day puts a strain on my body. Sometimes that strain is painful. Please do not tell me that I'm doing it wrong. It's my babywearing and I'll say that it's sometimes painful if I want to.

** The ad was removed from the Motrin site while I was drafting this post. Behold the power of the momosphere!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I just posted about this, but I didn't even know there was a video ad. I saw a print ad in my Lucky Magazine, and got all pissed off about that. Those print ads will live on forever, so your post is not obsolete.

Please go comment and trackback to my post, because yours is a good one (even if the whole point of my post is that wearing your baby shouldn't hurt enough to make you need OTC meds. But if it does, take Advil.).


10:20 PM  
Blogger MarĂ­a said...

I'm glad they removed it. They should have ran it past a panel of moms in the first place to ensure they didn't offend anyone. Idiots.

I was babywearing with the birth of my first, in 2003, long before the slings and maya wraps were mainstream - when only Baby Bjorns were sold in Toys R'Us, when people would look at me and my long organic wrap like I must have been some sort of convent escaped Jesus freak.

It was integral part of my parenting style with both of my daughters, and I damn sure didn't do it to be cool. I definitely find it offensive that they'd say that - or that it's just a fad that renders you tired and crazy looking.

And my pain was dependent on the type of sling I wore. :)

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I try not to get too worked up about this type of thing, I know, this one will go on for another week at least before things calm down. It's just that, the ad is in such poor taste and that's just putting it lightly. This was the 2nd time that I have watched the video and it's in even more poor taste since the first time I watched it this morning. It has such a "mocking" feel to it. At any rate, I'm glad they had enough sense to take it down. I figured they would.

Amy (aka pagirly on Twitter)

10:23 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

Yes, my mommy bona fides are on embarrassing display whether I'm wearing a sling or not.

And frankly, I'm the only mom I've seen around this place - which bears a striking resemblance to Stepford - who wears my babies in a contraption other than a Bjorn. Which is not because I dislike the Bjorn, but because Kyle called dibs on it 6.5 years ago.

So the idea that babywearing is perpetuated by peer pressure and the desire to show off mommy-cred is totally bogus.

And yes, babywearing does pain me now and then, but so does life in general.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

As usual, you said it best.
::gulps down the wine::

10:25 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I agree that some of the outrage is misplaced. Even so, no one likes to feel mocked. Least of all about the stuff we're all insecure about anyway.

Hell, if a babywearing mom had written that ad it would be all "I love baby wearing! Keeps the critter from crying and hides my fat gut. But hell, what I wouldn't give for a Motrin (and that martini) at the end of the day..."

I approve your post.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

I kind of got stuck at the part about the baby being six months old...! Because it seems like that was just last week you posted the story of that crazy delivery!
And I'm totally in agreement that we all got a leeetle worked up over it - annoyed, mad even, okay...but wow, this?

10:28 PM  
Blogger ChefSara said...

very well written and i agree completely. i wear my son for many reasons...when i walk the dog in the morning, i need my hands to hold the leash, and don't want my 80 lb. dog dragging me and a stroller around. and when i'm out and about, wearing him puts much less strain on my back than lugging him around in his car seat. i don't do it to be cool...besides, if i did, i'm sure i'd need a "cooler" sling or wrap rather than my practical carrier...

10:29 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

This is so 4:30pm.


10:29 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

I've been toting babies since my baby brothers were born in 1966 and 1967.
And believe me- I DO need painkillers now. My spine, my hips. Shit. I HAVE to do yoga. It's not a luxury, it's a necessity.
But you know what? I'd do it all again. Each and every ounce of all four of my kids and the two baby brothers.
Because if there's anything more important than carrying babies next to our bodies, I don't know what it is.
But don't try to direct advertising to me for doing it.
It's just life.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...

I agree. Can not wait for it to blow over & it probably already has. I'd love to just be treated like a human and not a market already. It's gotten so old.


10:33 PM  
Blogger Awake said...

I liked your post - great points. But, I watched the ad...and (crouching) didn't really find it offensive. Or (hiding behind tree) mocking. Or (and I know this wasn't your intent, so merely sheltering myself from the angry Twitterers) worth getting riled up about. To each their own battles though.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Sarah Y said...

great post!

Around these parts I'm the only one I know wearing a maya wrap. And thank god I do. The toddler wants the boobie all the time and jesus, if I couldn't strap her on, particularly in public, I don't know what I'd do. I would carry her cocked on my hip and need that much more motrin. oy.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Blooming said...

Thanks for being honest that sometimes it does hurt. A baby in a sling hurts my back less than a baby in my arms, but it does hurt still. If people agree that having twenty pound breasts post-delivery can hurt your back, why wouldn't carrying that weight in a sling hurt just a little too?

Also. I want a martini. I wish they made virgin martinis for pregnant women.

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you stated it perfectly. Maybe not enough for sheer outrage, but still in very poor taste. I actually made and sold slings and pouches for a while, so I looked into the history of babywearing. It is not a "fad" but really a part of being a mother who in order to function NEEDS to wear her baby.

Again excellent post.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Stimey said...

I kinda really wanted to say something to this effect on twitter, but I was afraid I'd be lynched. Yeah, the ad is dumb and belittling, but it's not the end of the world. I read some tweets about it being the most offensive ad some people have ever seen. If that is the case, I want to live in their world, because I see more offensive ads every day. But I also have to admit that although I did Bjorn my kids, I wasn't a diehard babywearer, so maybe if this were a really big deal to me, I'd be more upset.

I think it's great that the Motrin people paid attention though. Behold the power of the momoverse!

10:48 PM  
Blogger helenjane said...

I'm confused about the folks that want it both ways -- they want the Motrin marketing folks to pay attention to the silliness of their methods, but they also roll their eyes at the "outrage."

(Like they're too cool to care...)

There aren't many worthy causes that get results without a little riling up.

I say bring on the hash tags! The more complaining moms the merrier!

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I can't stop laughing about Backpacking Dad's comment.

I think your post is wonderful. I like reading what everyone has to say.

It's been years since I carried a baby in a sling, but I agree, the ad was crappy. I'm glad they took it down.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

helenjane - I'm not rolling my eyes at the outrage, I just think that it needs to be kept in perspective. Motrin needed to be told - LOUDLY - that their ad was offensive, but we don't need to get carried away about insisting, against the ad, that babywearing/carrying/whatever being a totally comfortable, blissful thing that every mother loves without exception. I hate advertisers reducing us to stereotypes, and I hate *US* reducing ourselves to stereotypes.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

oh, yeah, and ROTFLAO at Backpacking Dad. As usual.

11:05 PM  
Blogger April said...

posted a comment with nearly the same sentiments expressed here (lacking your eloquence of course). it was a stupid commercial, but mommydom CAN be painful, so target audience? PASS. delivery? FAIL.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Tootsie Farklepants said...

The only thing babywearing has done to me is cause sporadic cases of involuntary side to side rocking.

Great post!

11:10 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I have to wonder if some did not use this ridiculous advertising faux pas in an opportunistic way to promote themselves and their own agendas. Just sayin'.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

It was just condescending -- we don't need motrin because we wear our babies, we need motrin because we HAVE babies.

Big diff.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Leanne said...

I laughed when I saw it. I thought it was sorta cute...weird but cute. Okay, throw stuff at me now.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Amber P. said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. Women do not fit into one stereotype. Whenever that happens, women are outraged. The marketing department needs to read The Soccer Mom Myth by Michele Miller and Holly Buchanan.

11:56 PM  
Blogger Chandler Pritchett said...

The motrin ad seems really closely related visually to another video about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You (and all the other folks who are pissed at the campaign) might be interested in seeing the two side by side. You can watch them both at the same time on my blog at http://chandlerpritchett.blogspot.com/2008/11/text-in-context.html

11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a stupid ad, to be sure. Just the lingo and hip mom talk is irritating. But I can't see what all the fuss is about. I wore my babies too, and some days I definitely needed some ibuprofen because it is tough on the back and the knees, to run around doing errands and cooking dinner with a baby on your back or hip. I'm just not offended by it. Plus, I always buy generic. I can't see forking over the bucks just to have the name "Motrin" on the bottle. So, there.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

The ad pissed me off, not necessarily because of what it suggested about babywearing, but because the person doing the voice-over sounds like some incredibly well-rested college co-ed, not your average woman who has accidentally on occasion used Penaten diaper cream instead of hair product. Who has the energy to talk that fast? Hell, I barely had the energy to read that fast.

Anyhow, your post about it nearly made me pee myself laughing, so I suppose some good has come of it. I view the blogosphere's wrath as something to be amused by anyways.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

Stupid Motrin, if you want your kids to sleep more you use Bebedryl! Lol!

I did find that wearing my kids did cause some strain, but it was a lot easier on my body than not using a carrier or trying to haul them around in a car carrier.

1:10 AM  
Blogger helenjane said...

No argument here, your post ruled. I didn't think you were eye rolling -- it was the 24 hour backlash I was surprised about. Yay for complicated moms!

1:42 AM  
Blogger B said...

I don't know. I think all pharmaceutical ads are pretty terrible, why should the folks at Motrin be any different? I think that whole Brooke Sheilds/Volkswagon/Routan Boom thing is much worse as far as outrageous claims against mothers. (I know it's supposed to be funny, I think it is terrible.)

1:44 AM  
Blogger Kristy Hall said...

Well said. Stupid ad, good product.

J&J should stick to pitching the product for real Mom uses. After my c-section, I lived for my 600 mg of Motrin every four hours. It also reduced Toddlers 103 fever when Tylenol was shooting blanks.

Hate to cross the picket line but I gotta have my Motrin.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Mama Smurf said...

I must be WAY out of the mommy loop because I had no idea that baby wearing was "the thing"...

7:07 AM  
Blogger Sybil Vane said...

My kid didnt really like being in a bjorn or a sling, and I didn't really like messing with them enough to convince her to like it. And surely none of us would pretend that there isn't, actually, such a thing as a culture of mom one-up-man-ship that very often encompasses the things like babywearing? Many many mommies at the park and in playgroups asked me why I never had Baby V in a sling. With the same looks many of them have now when they asked me if I know where to gt a Bento to pack her lunch in. Or whether we are going to sign up for enrichment classes.
This ad, to my mind, is speaking to women who have felt the existence of mommy sanctimony, have felt themselves being judged by other mommies, and who can recognize that the trends that inform senses of superiority do shift. The fact of babyweraing being a trend or not is beside the point, although undeniably it is a much more visiblw phenomenon than it was when my mom was carrying a baby.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

I couldnt have put it better! We have the right to be outrages but lets do it in a way that doesnt make us look like the sterotype they are trying to portray us as!

8:24 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Sybil Vane - I agree entirely. I actually think that the fact that they targeted babywearing specifically (as opposed to, say, just carrying your baby around or doing all the bending and lifting that motherwork entails) is evidence that they DID consult a mom or two - only a mom would recognize that there really can be that culture of one-up(wo)manship in motherhood, and that whether one wears a funky sling or a no-name front carrier or doesn't babywear at all actually CAN have an impact on how one is viewed or fits in at the playground, or at least feel that way.

But that's a risky set of issues to just throw in an ad to sell painkillers, and it was handled badly - insultingly badly.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Kelsey said...

Okay, please no one throw rotten tomatoes at me, but I kinda thought it was funny and I liked it *ducking to avoid a tomato*. I thought that it was smart and clever. It was cute! And honestly, for ads that target my demographic, I dislike the Volkswagon one with Brooke Sheilds way more, this one at least seems to be trying to speak to me with understanding for my pain, as opposed to mocking me. Sorry All!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Leesa Barnes said...

The scale of outrage only looks huge because moms know how to use the power of their community to create a reaction. At the end of the day, the Motrin faux pas gave Motrin exactly what it needed - a thrust into the limeline. And isn't that the result that every PR professional wants for their client? To get everyone talking?

9:38 AM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I saw the fuss on twitter which led me to view the ad. This is an actual transcript of my reaction.

"Ooh... Eh, whatever."

Translation: I see the reason for the kerfuffle, I do, but the fact remains that it is an advertisement written by yet another Madison Ave. agency who doesn't get it (which is not to say that all in advertising is clueless, just most) and it should be treated as a pesky gnat and swatted away with a wave of the hand.

I refuse to be defined by an ad. Yes, I babywear and sometimes I'm really bad at it and sometimes it hurts - as anyone who was at Blogher Boston could see - and sometimes I take a pain reliever to help with the back aches that come as a result of said babywearing. I don't need a pointless ad to justify the way I mother. End of story.

(Did I get my point across? Probably not. Have headache from screaming baby. Need Motrin. Heh.)

9:40 AM  
Blogger suburbangranola said...

Watching the video, I was trying to figure out if it was one of those spoof things or not. I think it was intended to be funny but came across as mocking. Goes back to the fact that Moms do, instead of build each other up, criticize and tear each other down for making choices different from their own.(breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping). We need to respect each other as women and mothers first.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really well-written post, as always, though I can't say I really agree...I have two kids, who I've worn in various devices, and may be going for #3. I thought the ad was funny - it didn't insult me in the least. Or at least, no more insulting than tampon/maxi pad commercials, PMS commercials, etc. (For men, I don't think the erectile dysfunction commercials are all that non-patronizing either...) Don't you think we're taking ourselves a bit too seriously? Oh, and also, I get migraines, and Motrin works GREAT!

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the ad is definitely not right at all. Great article thanks so much for sharing. I'm not sure how i found you but i always like making new blog friends. I believe i was looking for stuff on our sons condition esophageal atresia, i wish you the best.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just posted nearly the same thing as your postscript over at Moxie. I'll repost it here:

I guess to me this sounds like the old adage "if breastfeeding hurts, you're doing it wrong." In my experience nursing four children, sometimes it just hurts. In my case once it hurt because of thrush...once it hurt because positioning was bad...and once it hurt for no reason except my nipples needed time to get used to my baby's barracuda-like suck. Hearing "if it hurts you're doing it wrong" was extremely frustrating because I WANTED to keep going, I WAS doing it right, and I just wanted to feel like I wasn't alone (after a couple of weeks the pain was gone and I went on to have a happy two-plus year nursing relationship. But it helped when a few people were honest enough to say, uh, yeah, sometimes? It just hurts.)

Anyway all this is to say I've tried many different kinds of slings, different holds, worn them differently etc...and when you have a) 9- and 10-lb newborns and b) a propensity toward back/shoulder strain and pain, sometimes it just HURTS. I still wore my babies for 110 reasons, but it feels a little dismissive to say "if it hurts you're doing it wrong"...unless you know the personal anatomy and babywearing habits of every single woman complaining of pain, the truth is you just don't know.

And yeah, I found the ad mildly insulting, and they got the tone all wrong, but I didn't quite understand the level of outrage, either. Parts of motherhood are painful, and acknowledging that would have been very smart marketing...if they'd gotten the tone right.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was never a big fan of babywearing; I loved the coach too much, but hell, that ad is just obnoxious.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the ad was a little insulting but really do i care?no. i am more concerned about a lot of other things.and yes i have worn all 4 of mine and did it hurt sometimes hell yeah,but it never stopped me from wearing my babes.

11:55 AM  
Blogger the new girl said...

Great summary, Catherine. Nice, balanced post.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Issa said...

I love the internet. Without the internet, I'd be totally lost.

I found the ad to be insulting. But at the same time, I think people glam onto one thing and take it too far. This time it's an ad. If you watch any TV though, half of those ads are insulting to people. Any geared at parents especially.

I wear my baby. I doubt I'm doing it right either, since sometimes it is painful. But as long as he's happy and quiet, I don't really care.

12:31 PM  
Blogger - Kellie said...

/looks around. I agree with awake.

Honestly, if I'd seen that ad (and I wouldn't, because I Tivo ;), I would have probably chuckled, thought "hey, they're finally targeting an audience I belong to", and moved on. Also, "hey, apparently I am not the only person that finds babywearing to cause a need for Advil on occasion!".

/looks around again. Also, there *are* some parents out there for which choices are a "competition", and just like what kind of stroller you choose or diaper bag you carry or if you bf or if you cloth diaper, babywearing *can* be used as kind of a statement (whether it's the type of carrier, or that you do it at all), and I'd imagine it would, in some case, help you fit in with the moms you know or see at the park or whatever. So, it's not exactly untrue, for *some* moms.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Good post! "light as farts with angel wings" just killed me.

I work in marketing research and simply cannot believe they showed this to actual moms. Stupid ad. Their ultimate point is a valid one but the way they try to get there is so bad.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm appalled-it makes it sound like a ditzy teen created the ad or something. i don't need anything to "prove" i'm an "official mom". i've never used motrin, but you can sure bet i never will, either.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

wait a minute, wait a minute. you're telling me babies ARE NOT the new manolos? well, there goes the last nine months and the next 18 years of my life. i'm never getting those back.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

Well you know I adore you and your writing BUT...

I just can't work up any righteous anger over the ad. In fact I just posted about how I think it would behoove us to yield the power of the momosphere a little more judisciously.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Kelly (DMD) - that was kinda my point ... ("I'm not sure that it's worthy of the scale of outrage that I'm seeing. Which may make me unpopular for the three or four days that this scandal burns its swath across the Internetverse, but so be it.")

3:02 PM  
Blogger Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] said...

Thanks for climbing in my head and writing everything I thought but didn't manage to squeeze out.


3:14 PM  
Blogger Booba Juice said...

Okay, so usually I take the time to read all the comments and then decide if I have something to say that someone else hasn't said, but today I am just to busy, and I do have something that I want to say.

I sat there looking at my screen. And felt my jaw dropping. Not because I think its outrageous to think that I a mother who holds children 70% of a 24 hour day, I who stoop, and bend, and play, and crawl, and all those other glorious things, need pain killers. Sometimes you do. ***and I agree that sometimes you just need a vodka and cranberry and to sit outside hidding in the shadows of your yard, while your husband watches the kiddos...but thats another story****

What suprised me was the way that it made out that babywearing was some sort of fad, something that you do just to fit in. When are we as moms going to say enough. We do not fit into the mold. There are all types of moms. And further more, just because I don't bring in a 100K a year doesn't mean that I don't have something important to add to the converstation, but that too is another story that you can read about on my blog.


4:07 PM  
Blogger dogwooddiarist said...

Great comment, Bad Mother.

I have several reactions to the ad. First, my youngest child has only been out of a sling for a year, and I find it amazing that the practice of babywearing has come to be considered so mainstream that Motrin is including it in their ad as if it were an inevitable part of motherhood. I was pretty much alone in the practice of babywearing here in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and in Philadelphia, some five years ago, when I was toting my eldest around in a sling, I felt very much in the minority of mothers. I even joined a rather fringe mother's group devoted to promoting the sling, and I felt mildly uncomfortable with the earth-mother aura that surrounded it.

In the mother's group that I joined, one of the benefits of babywearing that was pressed upon us was the natural "bonding" that would occur between mother and baby. Although I bought into the babywearing philosophy and it happened to work for me, in retrospect I have found the dogmatism of the babywearing movement offputting. We were told such absurd things as that the practice would lead to a happier, more confident and well-adjusted child later in life. We were told that developmentally, a baby needed to have the womb recreated for them for at least nine months after birth to compensate for the premature entry into the world that having a head necessitated, and that the sling (used everywhere except in the U.S.), was somehow "nature's" way of compensating for this trauma. And as a final sales pitch to appeal to the self-interest of the mother, we were told that it would furnish the magical solution for all the age-old struggles of motherhood: not only could we could accomplish anything with a sling -- cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening, shopping, breastfeeding, eating, writing, reading, you name it -- but our baby would be happy and we would feel no physical discomfort.

I don't know why, but there was definitely a sense in that babywearing group, that if you didn't adopt the babywearing practice, you were somehow committing treason to the higher call of motherhood.

I was uncomfortable with this propaganda, and not because there wasn't plenty to recommend about a sling. Rather, it was the way the whole idea of babywearing was promoted like a typical American advertisement: YOU MUST HAVE A SLING AND WEAR IT. If you don't, there's something wrong with you and, by the way, something bad will happen to your baby as well. With respect to mother advice, my standard response has always been: every mom and baby is different and what works for one may not work for another. Thus, while I was proud of feeling like a superior multitasker as I toted my baby around in a sling, I always thought it important to recognize and respect moms who didn't want to go that route, for whatever reasons -- comfort, fashion, or out of concern for the preferences of the baby.

What is interesting to me about the Motrin Ad is that it seems to tap into a reservoir of resentment that women have about doing what is "supposed" to be best for baby. It tries to win over our confidence by airing what it assumes to be our dirty secret: a skepticism about stuff that is touted as good for baby when it isn't actually good for us.

And then, paradoxically, the ad alienates us is when it tells us that we go to great lengths to serve our babies just to be cool, or to be perceived as good moms.

Would we like the ad better if the narrating mom included in the list of problems attendant to babywearing the complaint that it can be viewed as a fashion requirement of motherhood?

Instead, the ad goes wrong when it assumes that we delight in being slaves to fashion. Myth-debunking is an important activity for moms to be able to engage in vocally, not secretively and in guilt. The Motrin fails to acknowledge that, and suggests that, despite our efforts and our sacrifices, we are really no more than ditzy trendmongers.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post girl. And I was glad to see many kept their heads. And I really hope those who didn't learned from it.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

Yeah, Catherine, guess we are coming from the same place, but the truth is I can't even summon enough interest to thoughtfully analyze the ad or the reaction. It's such a tempest in a teapot, I just want it to go away and stop making mom bloggers look like they have WAY too much time on their hands...

4:38 PM  
Blogger Miss Merry Sunshine said...

"Light as farts with angel wings"

LMFAO!! That's how mature I am...but, good post as always! I've missed this drama, thanksfully...

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please keep the video up, I want to watch it when I get home, in less than an hour. I dont want to feel like I am missing out :)

5:26 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Perhaps I'm in the minority here... but..

Honestly, I found the ad to just be tongue in cheek (even the tone of voice) Seriously. I didn't really think that they were pushing the idea that baby wearing was only a way of fitting.

I guess I just think there are better things to spend our resources and energy on, and this ad isn't one of them. I wore my baby (and still wear my 2-year-old toddler). Hell yes it hurts sometimes (like a day spent tromping around the EX, for example).

I guess where I'm going with this is that when we get our backs up over something as inane as this, it undermines the important things. Really, have we lost our sense of humour?

8:45 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Perhaps I'm in the minority here... but..

Honestly, I found the ad to just be tongue in cheek (even the tone of voice) Seriously. I didn't really think that they were pushing the idea that baby wearing was only a way of fitting.

I guess I just think there are better things to spend our resources and energy on, and this ad isn't one of them. I wore my baby (and still wear my 2-year-old toddler). Hell yes it hurts sometimes (like a day spent tromping around the EX, for example).

I guess where I'm going with this is that when we get our backs up over something as inane as this, it undermines the important things. Really, have we lost our sense of humour?

8:45 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Perhaps I'm in the minority here... but..

Honestly, I found the ad to just be tongue in cheek (even the tone of voice) Seriously. I didn't really think that they were pushing the idea that baby wearing was only a way of fitting.

I guess I just think there are better things to spend our resources and energy on, and this ad isn't one of them. I wore my baby (and still wear my 2-year-old toddler). Hell yes it hurts sometimes (like a day spent tromping around the EX, for example).

I guess where I'm going with this is that when we get our backs up over something as inane as this, it undermines the important things. Really, have we lost our sense of humour?

8:45 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Susan Lindgren said...

This "Motringate" brought out the worst in some people.
In the end it wasn't ad or the outrage of the ad that irritated me, it was the ego rubbing and the stat counting. The worst, how many people were taking this opportunity to inform and turned it into blatant self-promotion.
Your right sometimes there is pain in Motherhood it happens, it doesn't mean you are doing it "wrong"
Motrin got it wrong because they didn't "Feel Our Pain" What wrong with #motrinmoms, they didn't "feel our pain" either!

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I can't even help it, I was giggling at the end of that ad. Perhaps just the picture combined with the "tired and crazy" words. I'm not at all offended by this ad.
Mind you, I don't really get offended by much, but I "held" my baby for 10 months. All day, every day, and yes, we did have a snuggly, but it killed my back, so I never wore it. I remember being sore and just wiped out by the end of the day, but I'll do it all over again with the next one if that's what it takes. :)

And if it's hurting me during the day... yup, I'll take Motrin, or Advil or Tylenol. Whatever I can manage to get out of the bottle while I'm wrangling a little body in my arms.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Susan Getgood said...

I remain amazed at your writing. You are by far one of the best writers I read on the blogosphere. Have you considered writing a book? You should.

11:14 PM  
Blogger zipbagofbones said...

Wow, I missed the whole scandal, probably because all I carry around every day is my own tired ass and a bottle of vodka. Hey I do have something in common with moms! VODKA

11:50 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Susan - thanks (*blush*)

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this leaves me speechless :


1:33 PM  
Blogger Kim @ Ponytaildiaries.com said...

I hate to be conspiracy theory about it, but as far as I'm concerned it is more attempt by them to try to cause mommy wars. More attempt to point out our differences. My opinion? They don't realize our sameness is we CELEBRATE those differences because as mothers we want that to be the world our children inherit. And that sameness says them? "FUCK YOU, ASSHOLES!" And that is as much business as well as attention I'll be offering those sobs.

Moronic. The whole lot of every media asshats.

1:39 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

Sling or no sling, you're going to have aches and pains hauling a baby around - at least I did and I wish slings had been more commonplace back in 1997 and 1998 (I know! eons ago!).

Anyway, I totally see your point. I felt that way about the VW Ruton (sp?) commercials even though a) I don't drive a mini van and b) my kids aren't babies anymore. I could see why a certain demographic would be irritated, but it really wouldn't stop me from taking/buying Motrin if that was my anti-inflammatory of choice!

Hopefully it will blow over soon, maybe it already has! :)

9:05 PM  
Blogger josetteplank.com said...

"I hate to be conspiracy theory about it, but as far as I'm concerned it is more attempt by them to try to cause mommy wars. More attempt to point out our differences."

Pass the tin foil hat. I'm old school patriarchy blaming even for an ad written by a woman. Keep us bickering among ourselves - mainstream moms versus alternatives, middle class versus wealthy versus poor - and we won't get enough of a power block to do the real damage to the big issues that everyone is complaining that we're not paying attention to.

It's because motherhood is a second-class job description that doesn't credit a resume line. Or so we are led to believe, told over and over again by one insipid commercial after another. Well, Motrin didn't pull any punches in laying it all out there.

I think the reaction was swift and big and I don't think anyone lost much time out of their day in enacting that reaction. In fact, I got four loads of laundry done. Meanwhile, the "look over there" effect of pitting those crunchy granola moms against those eye-rolling hipster moms didn't work. We're coming for your corner office; we're turning it into an in-house daycare with a breast pump station. Then, we're coming for better childcare options, family leave, and equal pay. That's for starters.

3:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, hey, I hadn't even heard of or seen that Motrin ad. Shows how out of the loop I am. I probably would have been insulted, too. For the same reasons. Because duh, packing around a kid is harsh on your body. That's all that there should be to the ad.

4:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen this response to it?

Good fun.


10:24 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

cmwheeler - I did see it (a friend of mine made it, actually) - it's AWESOME.

10:34 AM  

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