May 28, 2007

Got Baby?

I was flipping through Self Magazine and came across a "Got Milk?" ad. I’ve seen plenty of these ads featuring celebrities with milk mustaches in magazines and on bus shelters, but this one gave me pause.

It features actress Mariska Hargitay, cradling her son, August. The tag line beside her milky grin reads: "All figured out." The following text starts with: "Motherhood brings fulfillment, and a new focus on getting back in shape." It ends with "Case closed."

I’m sure the last line was meant to reference Hargitay’s current role as a detective on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, but I can’t help but read this and think: here’s another example of what Ellen Peck called corporate "baby sell." Sell babies + sell motherhood = sell milk.

I used to be peeved when advertisers used scantily clad women to sell everything from vodka to cars, now I find my self being similarly annoyed by the glorification and exploitation of babies.

I can imagine the call from Mariska Hartigay’s agent:
Hey, Mariska! Great news! You’re the new milk girl! But there’s a hitch: they want your baby stripped down to his diaper, or no deal.


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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

why do people always have to find something negative in something positive. GOSH! Its just an ad for MILK! BABIES DRINK MILK! DING DING! Hence..it could be a cute idea to put a baby in a GOT MILK AD! And hey, why not throw in the mother for good measure...i mean...wheres a baby gonna get milk without a mommy?

Mariska is not pimping her baby! Her baby is BEAUTIFUL! ITS HER FIRST CHILD! She wants to show him off. LET HER ENJOY AND CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF HER NEW SON! And stop being a hater!

people are always so negative. get a life

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? Really, you should get a life. If you are worried about a baby in a diaper promoting the idea that milk is a healthy choice for growing kids, then you have a serious problem. Have you looked at the news lately. There are a lot of things to be annoyed about. And a milk ad is not one of them.

KM said...

I think you two are intentionally missing the point and I gather from the tone of your all-around hostility & simpleminded sputterings, you are a troll. I think the point Laura is making is that our society is saturated with images and messages that idealize motherhood, a message not every woman chooses to buy into. Not every woman (especially the ones reading this blog since it's audience is clearly those women, duh.) wants a milk commerical to be another bombardment of how having children makes everything more important, as if women shouldn't want to take care of themselves, simpy because they value their own health despite not having a young dependent. Now go away and attend to your children. They SHOULD be your biggest priority. Get off the phone, the Internet and turn off the TV and do some mothering.

CFT said...

What bothered me about that ad was not that she had her baby with her, but the line about Motherhood bringing fulfillment. It felt like they were pimping motherhood, as many ads do, rather than milk.

Mariska is a wonderful actress on a successful show and stunning too boot. You can't tell me that she only ever felt fulfilled with her life AFTER she gave birth. That the only reason she wants to be healthy is for the baby and not for herself.

I drink milk. I am trying to get back into shape. I have a wonderfully fulfilling life that does NOT involve children.Showing me a picture of a baby will not make me buy milk or motherhood any faster, if ever.

Anonymous said...

That ad annoyed me too.

Anonymous said...

To KM: I'm not missing the point. And no, I'm far from a troll. Trolls are people who search out negativity in everything, even motherhood and milk. Just because you or Laura have not chosen motherhood does not give you the right to criticize those who have, and seem to be happy about it. Motherhood should be celebrated by those who are mothers and those, like myself, who are not. And I still say. If you can complain about a milk ad just because it displays a mother and her child, there is something wrong and you are simply hating on the happiness of others.And that's pathetic. I think people like you are perfect examples of how screwed up this world has become. Those who have chosen not to become mothers should not hate those who celebrate motherhood and are happy in their roles. If all you ' anti motherhood activists' had fufilling lives of your own, you would have better things to do than sit and complain about a damn milk ad.

Kate said...

We do have fulfilling lives of our own.

It is disheartening in the 21st century to see exactly what cft said -- that a successful, talented woman with a great career and presumably a good life could only find fulfillment in motherhood. THAT is bad news for mothers AND those of us who have chosen not to have children.

Women -- those who are biological mothers and those who aren't -- are more than their biology dictates.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that our troll doesn't have "better things to do" than complain about people with a different opinion then them.

I don't appreciate being told how to think, by ads or by annoymous losers on the internets.

- Angie

Anonymous said...

I think that the ad is saying, is for you to drink milk in order to be healthy. I don't think the ad is trying to say you need to be a mother in order to be happy or that only a mother wants to be healthy, but they thought it would be cute to put a baby in the ad, because babies drink milk (and you have to admit, August is very adorable.)
Whatever your beliefs are thats completely cool. Whether you have nine kids or are vowing never to have children as long as you live. It's a harmless milk ad that is simply saying "Drink milk to have you and your child healthy"
I also don't think, the person who posted that these people need to do better things then go around and make fun of milk ads. Dude, you're on the same site as them, making fun and criticizing people for their beliefs. So maybe its YOU who needs to do something better to do.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the few times where the use of a baby in ad really does correlate with the product. Infants and young kids who can tolerate milk derive a lot of benefit from it, so hey, why not? It also makes sense for a nursing mother who needs the extra calcium, etc. so her extra nutritional needs are met. I don't feel the kid is being exploited at all in this case.
-AlphaGirl

ongoingly said...

Interesting how a thoughtful critique of a commerical for milk gets up the gander of "anonymous" mother trolls. If she were so comfortable in her role as mother, why would she feel the need to lash out against a blogger on a site geared towards women who choose not to have children? Childfree women (or childless women) have the right and need to question, analyse and comment on our current society's obsession with motherhood. And there are too few places to do it safely without the kind of zombified, knee-jerk responses that are so common-place in our child-centric culture (as illustrated by the Mommy-troll "anonymous.") Are we such a threat to their motherhood? Personally, I love kids, I thought that baby on the commerical was adorable, I have two adorable nephews and I am a teacher, but I am simply very content not having any of my own. But I do object to having motherhood crammed down my throat in a subversive way by a milk commerical! Thanks for making me think Laura!

Jessa said...

(I was the third from the last anonymous post BTW)
I don't get what you mean when you say "she" theres probably more then one anonymous user on here. Hell one anonymous user agreed with the original poster that the commercial is "offensive" if you want to call it that. I'm not a mother, and don't plan to be a mother until I've been married for at least a year, and I don't plan on getting married for a long time to come, hell I'm only 17. And I bet I can guess why this is getting so many responses by anonymous viewers. Someone posted this on a popular Mariska Hargitay fan site (not gonna say who, not gonna say what site its on, but thats how I found this place)
And to ongoingly, no one is lashing out on anybody. Yeah there were like 2 close minded people who, god forbid see the eyes or views through another person. But no one actually bashed you or any of the followers of this belief out. And yeah this debate shouldn't even be on here because this is a site directly for childless mothers (who has every right to say what you want, how you want, whatever you want.) No one is saying that you're a threat to childhood. Y'all don't wanna have children, fine by me. I don't understand why y'all have to make such a big deal about it since its not like, a big controversial issue. I mean a woman tells me that they don't wanna have children, okay, it's no big deal. And no one is cramming childhood down your throat. It was an ad that features a mother and baby, and what part of the ad wasn't true? The fact that milk has 9 nutrients that help new mothers? Or that it can help achieve a healthy weight? Yeah they shouldn't of put that motherhood brings fulfillment, but to a majority of women, it does. And they went with what a majority of women believe. Trust me I know all about going with the majority and not caring about the minority, I'm a Jew who lives in the south. Do you know how many Christmas trees and Santa's I have to see in my school?

Anonymous said...

"I don't understand why y'all have to make such a big deal about it since its not like, a big controversial issue."

All that says to me is if you want to understand more, keep reading the site. If it's truly mystifying to you, than I don't think you're listening close enough.

- Angie

LauraS said...

Are we going to be quiet back there? Or I am going have to stop the car!

Seriously folks, we're adults, we can disagree. I think that's we blog--to air our views. Right?

I used to work in sales and marketing. Heck, I probably would have dreamed up that milk ad and thought it brilliant. It really is.

I'm not suggesting that Mariska is pimping her baby. I'm making an observation that in this case it appears that part of the message in this ad is that motherhood alone brings fulfillment, that Mariska wasn't fulfilled until she had August.

That may be true. I don't know. But to me that is the same as featuring Kate Moss with a milk mustache, bypassing the velvet rope into some hot club, and suggesting that she is using milk as part of her weight loss plan.
The message there is that you can't have fun unless you're a skinny blond. Chubby, brunette girls please step back behind the rope.

For the record, I'm not a kid hater and I support parents. In fact I'm currently supporting and mentoring a young mother.

I'm just a critical thinker who knows that the media sell messages as well as merchandise. I am living the idea that fulfilment comes in many flavors, including childfree.

I drink milk. Not because I'm nursing or trying to lose weight but because nothing tastes better with a sandwich or a bowl of cornflakes.

Remember the early "Got Milk" ads: a stark photo of an Oreo cookie, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? The ONLY text of the page was:
"Got Milk?"

That was brilliant.

Anonymous said...

The whole concept of drinking milk kind of cracks me up anyway - humans are the only mammal to drink milk past infancy, and many people cannot tolerate it because we're not designed to do so.

Teri said...

Hey all, I am going to weigh in briefly, from the road with a bad right typing hand...

...then I am going to close this discussion. I don't like anonymous posts, though I loath to disallow them. I do think the dialogue is important, and I don't want any barriers to it; however, I don't want name callling. Would requiring a Blogger.com log in lessen this problem? Not sure.

I purposefully renamed this blog from Purple Women to Purple Women & Friends because I want parents, of either sex, to feel welcome to participate. Otherwise we are preaching to choir, so to speak. I wanted a broader audience.

I loved hearing from a very well-informed 17-year old. I love to hear that she thinks being childfree is no big deal. I love it that she knows she has a choice. I hope this attitude pervades throughout her peer set and that this does not change for her as she gets older.

I found that my 20s and 30s were the most difficult as I negotiated the childfree path.

From now on, I am going to delete any posts that have blatent name-calling. It really doesn't help to make a point. It just inflames.