Last night, I came across some web chatter regarding a new jewelery commercial that some women found offensive. I assumed the ad in question was that insufferable spot where the woman gets scared by a little thunder and jumps into her man’s arms, whereupon he assures her, “I’m here…I’ll always be here,” and hands her something sparkly.
But no. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only person who finds this sexist and dated commercial so despicable. The controversy is actually over a Zales ad that has a bunch of people saying “I love you” in different scenarios. One of the vignettes shows a dad bottle-feeding a baby as he tells his wife he loves her. Apparently, this is anti-breastfeeding…”I was outraged within seconds when it showed a mom leaning over an empty crib while dad bottle fed a baby in the background,” said blogger BirthActivist. “I mean come on, wouldn’t it be better to give mom a diamond for breastfeeding? Or even as a push present? But this was just sad. If you’re as outraged as I am, you can write them online or call them…”
While she certainly has a right to dislike the commercial, I am utterly confused at why she would be “outraged”, or how this imagery is at all anti-breastfeeding. First of all…we don’t know what’s in the bottle. It could easily be pumped milk. Maybe the mom pumps once a day so that the father can take one feeding, you know? I take a completely different message from the ad. I think it just shows a lovely moment, where the dad is bonding with his new baby, and wants to tell his wife how much he loves her for bringing this precious gift into his life. According to many breastfeeding advocates, feeding your child is an act of bonding- so without the ability to bottle feed, fathers are robbed of this amazing opportunity. I was adamant about nursing before my son was born, but I was equally sure that I wanted to pump occasionally so that my husband could take part in the feedings. My dad once told me that his favorite part of fatherhood was those midnight feedings (I was a formula fed baby); that stuck with me. As strongly as I wanted to breastfeed, the image of a dad feeding a newborn was an evocative one for me; I don’t think this is a bad thing. Exclusive breastfeeding has many, many benefits, but I do think it leaves fathers out in the cold in this one respect. We have evolved into a culture (thankfully) where co-parenting is becoming more prevalent; some dads are even taking on the role of primary caregiver, which I see as a huge step for gender equality. But unless they can occasionally give the baby a bottle, they never get to enjoy this heralded “bonding”. And that sucks (no pun intended).
When my son wants comfort, he usually comes to me, but I think that’s more a matter of my being the primary caregiver; other than that, he is equally bonded to both my husband and myself. I love that. I love that he sees me as more than a food source; that the comfort I give him is something that I have developed as I’ve gotten to know him as an individual, something that I had to learn and work at. I love that his eyes light up when he sees his dad, that we’ve never had that issue of him wanting mommy more than daddy… I love that we are an all-powerful, seamless family unit, with interchangeable roles…
I certainly don’t think this is an argument against breastfeeding, but more of a nice little consolation present for those who are formula feeding or pumping. And feeling this way, I just can’t see why that image in the Zales commercial would offend anyone… if it were a mom standing there bottle-feeding, then I could obviously buy the argument that this is yet another subliminal message feeding a formula-centric society, but guys, how else is the man in this commercial supposed to feed the baby? And maybe that was integral to the point they were trying to get across in the 0.2 seconds that this image flashed on the screen – a lovely moment between father and child which provokes him to profess his love for the woman who made it all possible.
And hey. There ain’t nothin’ wrong with giving her some bling for her efforts. I think we can all agree on that.