If you’ve been under a rock the last few days (same tbh), you may have missed the sh*tstorm surrounding a commercial showing the reality of postpartum recovery. The controversy started when a commercial by Frida, a company specializing in postpartum products designed for babies and new moms, was banned from airing during the Oscars, which were broadcast this past Sunday. There’s no nudity in the ad, but according to Today.com, the “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences guidelines state that advertisements of ‘political candidates/positions, religious or faith-based messages/positions, guns, gun shows, ammunition, feminine hygiene products, adult diapers, condoms or hemorrhoid remedies’ are not permitted during the broadcast.”
So, what is the actual commercial? If you’re at work and can’t click play, the ad in question shows a new mom carefully getting out of bed so she can quietly pee—a real effort when you’ve pushed a baby out less than 24 hours prior. You see the mesh undies (the stretchy, soft, amazing miracle that makes actually wearing underwear after giving birth tolerable), the big hospital pad (which you need whether you have a C-section or natural birth because of all the blood and shedding of your lining), and the peri-bottle used to keep things clean (i.e. washing off blood and pee since dabbing with toilet paper isn’t very tolerable). It’s kind of delicate, a little sad, a little awe-inspiring, and shouldn’t be offensive to, well, anyone. It’s just a natural part of the process that, honestly, more people should know about.
Here’s the Frida ad in full if you want to see what I’m talking about.
Most people would put this ad in the same bucket with feminine hygiene products, which are apparently also a “no-no” during the broadcast if you didn’t read that long list of unapproved concepts above. So, the question isn’t really why this was banned, the bigger question is why something that happens every day to millions of women is seen as sensitive. Andrea Barrica, the founder of o.school, a judgment-free media platform to learn about sexuality and pleasure, told Betches, “It’s not the first time we’re seeing a brand that puts women’s health at the front and center get censored. This happens over and over again, yet we see, for example, solutions for erectile dysfunction ads on TV and magazines, no problem. As a society, men’s health gets a pass, a green light. Women’s health? Not so much.”
She continues, “Frida Mom’s postpartum ad was an accurate and honest portrayal of what it’s like to care for yourself after giving birth, and it’s a huge shame that this portrayal is something we feel needs to be hidden. For postpartum care showing a real postpartum body to be lumped in the same group as ads of guns and politics is something you’d think we’d move past by now. I hope in the future we can use this a lesson and learn how to be better.” Well f*cking said.
I’m also over here loling that condoms are also considered offensive by the network that brings us The Bachelor every week, where women vie to sleep with a man they just met on national television. This is the network that should, in all honestly, be sponsored by condoms and feminine hygiene products.
Additionally, I find it hilarious that this and other feminine hygiene ads are banned considering the Academy awarded an Oscar last year to the documentary Period. End of Sentence., a short film the subject of which was feminine hygiene and periods in the third world. So, it’s cool and artsy as a documentary, but very not cool if we’re telling every day women about the products that can make their lives easier? Got it.
Being a new mom, commercials like this are a breath of fresh air. Not because it’s graphic (it’s not), but, rather, because ads like this don’t hide what birth and recovery are: messy. It’s not pretty, it’s not filtered, perfectly Instagrammed pics of beautiful, glowing moms with happy infants and adoring husbands. It’s getting up at 3am to carefully pee and change out mesh undies, or readjusting the bandages on your C-section incision, or figuring out how to clean a breast pump with one eye open. It’s sh*t and spilled milk and blood and sweat and a lot of tears. And, honestly, we need to stop hiding it. If someone wants a child, they should know as much as possible about every aspect of it.
Call me crazy, but maybe KNOWING more about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery would help people feel prepared for bringing a baby into the world.
Images: Joshua Reddekopp / Unsplash