Friday, September 15, 2006

Madison Avenue Discovers Moms

I read Marketers Look Past Jelly Stains and See a Mom Who Has Needs today with some incredulity and a hint of anger. Every source of angst is another marketing opportunity!

The worst part about the article is that the quoted "experts" stereotype mothers while protesting that they are done stereotyping mothers. There is so much crapola in that article, I am not sure where to begin.

The beginning is as good a place to start as any:
Brands as disparate as Suave shampoo, Time Warner Cable, KFC fried chicken and Tide are tailoring their messages to mothers who, they are certain, are dying to spend more time on themselves, but feel too guilty to do so.
Who says that moms feel guilty about spending time on ourselves? I wish I had more time for myself, but I never ever feel guilty about the small amount of time I manage to carve out for myself. I revel in it. I blog about it ad nauseum. Do I write like a woman conflicted about time not spent doing underappreciated housework? Do they think I should feel any more guilt than a father?

A little further down:
“We used to stereotype women as sex objects, and then we stereotyped them as superwomen: career woman, homemaker, mom and mate,’’ said Gary Armstrong, professor of marketing at the Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina. “But now we are recognizing that anyone who has been out in the world as a smart, beautiful woman will not give that up because she’s a mom.”
I was going to dismiss this quote because it came from a man (or a woman named Gary), but Donna Charlton-Perrin, creative director on the Suave account said,
"There seems to be this feeling in the culture that moms must be martyrs, that their lives have to be all about their kids. But the beautiful woman inside that mom is still dying to get out. So we’re saying, ‘A pretty mommy is a better mommy.’ "
The ick factor runs high. Evidently, we are not done with the physical beauty stereotype. Our society is so fixated on equating beauty with goodness. Women are judged so much by our looks. I deeply resent the encroachment of the beauty myth on motherhood.

Everytime I listen to the soundtrack of "Into the Woods", my heart breaks when the witch sings, "Stay awhile", to her daughter. The daughter who would run away from the one who loved and raised her. Why? Because her mother was ugly.

The article also said Ms. Charlton-Perrin was looking for ways to
“interrupt moms when they are not thinking about themselves’’— say, by putting Suave stickers on food shelves in supermarkets, or running pop-up ads on Internet sites that sell children’s clothes.
My life has enough interruptions, thank-you. Please don't add any more. I will hold a grudge against you. I have a long and excellent memory thanks to lots of practice as chief household systems engineer.

keyword: modern motherhood


  1. Love the commentary, once again. I'm not a mom, but I do know that my friends who are moms do feel like they should be whole people and not martyrs. I think that other guilt-ridden mom is out there though, as I have heard a lot of women saying things of this nature - however, they tend not to be my friends as they have no time for friends or don't feel like they deserve to have friends. That kind of attitude really makes me crazy.

  2. Anonymous11:49

    sorry, folks, I'm coming clean. I am a mom, and I want to be pretty. even tho the odds are against me - I'm 40, I'm tired because I'm working too much, and trying to cook home cooked meals and do the laundry and still have time to read a little so I can contribute to conversations beyond the scope of kids and work. I want to be pretty. I will get my eyebrows shaped, I will dream of having more time to exercise. I will use Aveda shampoo because that mint rosemary combo smells so good and is relaxing - funny, but it works on me.

    And at the end of the day, my girls aged 5 and 7 will love me anyway, but they will tell me when I'm running a little ragged. I'm not doing this for marketers, or for some martyr role. I'm doing it for my girls. And for me.


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