"The Only Brand with Easy-Open Sides for Mom," I read on the back of the package of overnight pull-ups we had bought for my son.
The package promoted a new design with a list of benefits; number three was the claim that changing diapers would be easier – for mothers.
Moms aren't the only parents changing diapers, or needing help "just in case," as it also said. As a dad, I feel left out. As a primary caregiver, I take issue. And I'm most offended on behalf of my children, who are being raised by two dads.
Take-out bags for a major fast-food chain state that moms know quality. Magazine ads declare their products "Mom tested, Mom approved" or feature endorsements by "Dr. Mom."
Another ad concludes with the command to "use your mommy magic to kiss the booboo better." Really?
It's a marketing ploy, of course, appealing to women who are often considered the primary caregivers and purchasers of baby products. And yet don’t we all know by now that it’s a construct promoting the idea that all mothers are caring, nurturing and, well, maternal?
Haven't women fought for decades to break out of such a role? I know we should take advertising with a healthy dose of skepticism but the mother ploy must still be working if it’s still being used. But, please, let's not do a disservice to moms who may not in fact feel as knowledgeable and nurturing as they are made out to be in media portrayals.
Let's also acknowledge fathers who may be just as nurturing, involved and active. And please be inclusive of the growing population of gay and lesbian families, as a few pioneering ads are starting to do.
It is simple, really, to talk about parents and parenting. No need for separate mom and dad categories or appeals. The claim on that diaper package would have been fine without the words "for moms". Replace those two words with "for parents" or leave them out all together. It's really that easy.
And for the record, those tabs did make life easier – for this dad.