Is Similac stereotyping? Or just all about judging us?

As you can imagine, I have not been thrilled with Similac’s new ad campaign, “the Sisterhood of Motherhood”. They say we should not judge one another, all parents need support, not criticism. Who can argue with that sentiment?

I am not bashing any mothers here! This about us being manipulated, not about mothers or ethnic groups.

There first commercial, and please, don’t forget for one moment that is what it is, a commercial for their product, makes us tear up while we realize we judge other mothers all the time while they are quietly bashing breastfeeding mothers. You know who they don’t want us to judge? Similac and formula use. They are asking us not to judge them. And they are asking all the mothers out there to judge us when we are promoting breastfeeding because we don’t want to make mothers “feel bad”. For more info, I have another blog post on that subject.

The second commercial is an even more straight forward version of “no judging”. We have a variety of mothers and we are shown a very quick snippet of their lives. They talk about being judged and how hard it is. At the end of the commercial, they get together and confess how judgey they were to each other and vow not to in the future. So sweet! Not. There is a strong agenda here of anti-breastfeeding and what I find most disturbing is the racist stereotyping they have done. Let me explain.

Here are some of the mothers and their stories. Our first mother, Ada. She is of Asian background, it is not totally clear, but I think she must be to fill out this obviously constructed ethnic group. She is a breastfeeding working mother. She is shown struggling with bottles of pumped breastmilk, pumping, leaves her child crying at some industrial child care center. She is an over achiever as many people of Asian descent are stereotyped. Clearly, if she quit breastfeeding, her life would be less stressed.

Then Leslie. She is white. Leslie doesn’t talk about whether she has to work or not.  She had premie twins. She couldn’t produce enough breastmilk. Whole story. If you have premie twins, you can’t nurse.

Shyrelle is next. She is black. And unmarried. She has to work to support her family. Her grandmother is taking care of her baby. She wishes she didn’t work. Her feeding choice is not discussed. Talk about stereotypes! Stop it Similac!

Yalixa is next. She struggled with fertility. She has family origins most likely in South America. She can’t breastfeed because four years ago there was a lump in her breast. What? She can nurse. This is just blatant miss-information.

Elizabeth, very white, gets judged for having two babies under two years of age. Who cares? Her feeding choice is not discussed.

And then meet Jennifer  . She is the girl next door! If you are rich, white, and christian that is. She is shown with an older women, her mom surely, picking out her child’s christening cake. I guess she gets judge for putting her daughter in tutus and her son in bow ties? Is this really an issue? She is a stay at home mom who is breastfeeding.

Finally, Dawn.  Dawn wants to raise a gender neutral child. She appears very masculine herself. Short, buzzed hair. Tank top. Artsy. No one says she is gay but she does say she will dress her child in rainbow clothes, which apparently is a euphemism for saying Dawn is gay. She breastfeeds and uses cloth diapers.

When they all get together they learn they have all been judging each other. Ironically the person who confesses to judging the most is Dawn, the gay woman who is dressing her child in gender neutral clothing. She is the one who confesses to judging the formula feeding mom. Really, make the gay one the scape goat?

The person who leads the way to non-judging enlightenment is, of course, Jennifer. The whitest person there. She explains how we just need to hear from other mothers that we are doing a good job. Very true.

What does this all mean? Well, the whiter you are, the smaller your problems are. White women struggle with premie twins, having babies close in age, and, well not really sure what Jennifer is being judged about. Asians work hard and are over achievers but on the edge of breaking down.. Black women…well…they get pregnant and have to go back to work for financial reasons. Why are the most ethnic people the workers? Why is the black woman the one who is most unstable in her life? Why is Jennifer, the blond, blue-eyed, married, christian woman living the easiest life?

Similac, I am judging you. I think you are using stereotypes, subliminal messages, to bring down mothers and promote your product. To try and distract us from the fact that you are pushing a product that is inferior to human milk. We know this, you do too, and you are scared. You don’t care if we are judging each other. You care if we are judging you.



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