Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Monday, October 12, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Noticing Bias in Baby Product Advertising

I am incredibly lucky to have a boatload of support in preparing for our Mystery Baby. We had a beautiful school shower where people were super generous and genuinely excited. We have boxes from the giant alliterative superstore of the baby coming to the house. We have another shower in a couple of weeks. It's pretty awesome.

As we receive these things, I can't help but notice that the baby printed on the packing slip/gift message is white.

The babies on the car seat boxes...white.

The baby and toddler on the spacesaving high chair box? White.

The babies printed on the toy packaging? White, white, white.

Almost everything, minus one picture book that didn't have animals as the characters... a flood of stereotypically white baby faces.

It really bothers me.

In part, because it seems unfair to have absolutely no representation of other cultures and colors on the packaging... there is a lifetime of not seeing yourself reflected in movies or books or packaging or toys when you are not white, and it sends an insidious message. Is it so hard to keep diversity in mind when advertising?

It also bothers me because it's more than a little possible that our child won't be white, and while I would have noticed this inequity before, now it REALLY, REALLY bothers me. Why start so young with the whitewashing? Why start sending the message that you don't matter in representation on DIAPER packaging, for Pete's sake?

So I just want to give a shout out to Dr. Brown's bottles, because so far, they are the only manufacturer who has featured a baby who is not white on the outside of their packaging:

Or maybe this is a white baby, just a darker skin-toned, brown-eyed, dark-haired white baby, but the image stood out from the peaches-and-cream Gerber baby festival happening elsewhere. 

It's amazing how much I've taken for granted that I see people who look like me reflected all around me in advertising. I don't think it should be so hard to mix things up, to have packaging reflect the multicultural, diverse world around us.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

14 comments:

  1. Such an important message, because even unconscious bias from our surroundings can influence behaviour for the worse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, or leave you feeling more marginalized than ever. It's also super interesting to see what happens when you mention this lack of different faces out loud at say, a shower... uncomfortable crickets ensue. Thanks for your thoughts!

      Delete
  2. Once you notice it, you will see it everywhere. A shout out also to Stonyfield Farm. Their baby yogurt has a different baby on every carton; a lot of diversity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I love Stonyfield Farm! Even more reasons to love them. :)

      Delete
  3. Pampers boxes have brown babies on them. Their commercials also show different races if I remeber correctly. I had a weird moment some time ago when I realized I always picture bloggers as white. Well obviously some people share photos or their cultural background, but if they don't, how would you know? But I always picture as white unless told otherwise and it was kind of weird to realize that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have cable, so the TV part I miss out on, but that makes me happy. My pampers packages that I have so far are white babies... That's so interesting about picturing bloggers -- I didn't even think about that. We're all sort of anonymous up here, so you really don't know age or race or anything unless it's posted. For all you know, that's not my real picture! (It totally is.)

      Delete
  4. If uou have visited my blogxyou know Ixam not white. Quite astute and conscious of you to mot only recognize but to verbalize.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's interesting, because I grew up in a much more culturally diverse community than I currently live. It really bothers me, the lack of different perspectives in terms of race and culture. Representation totally matters, and it's easy for people to say it doesn't when their race is the one that is everywhere. I think things are getting better, but not by much... I think while it's important to recognize all the ways in which people are the same, it's also important to recognize cultural differences and celebrate those, too.

      Delete
  5. I've noticed this too quite a bit recently. You're right that once you see it, it's everywhere and pretty disturbing.

    Helen Oxenbury has several board books that feature babies of different races/colors: "Clap Hands", "Tickle, Tickle" and "All Fall Down" are the ones we have...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the recommendations! The one I referenced above was "If I Could Keep You Little" by Marianne Richmond. I want my kids, white or not, to realize that the world is not homogenous. :)

      Delete
  6. My daughters aren't white. Guess what, I don't even notice what color babies on boxes or packaging are. I don't focus on race, as it's a non-issue in our lives even though we are a "mixed race" family. I guess if you seek it out, you can make it an issue with everything and perpetuate it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think while it's important to recognize all the ways in which people are the same, it's also important to recognize cultural differences and celebrate those, too. White culture is celebrated and recognized daily. It would be easy to feel marginalized by not being represented if you were of a different heritage with your own unique traditions and history, equally worthy of being shown on things as insignificant as diaper packaging. While I respect though that you feel differently, I don't think talking about race is perpetuating issues about race. It's an important conversation.

      Delete
  7. You have shared a very important message. In India, fair skin is associated with beauty and every other TV commercial shows fair people including children. What kind of message is that for a dark child?
    Great post and food for thought here.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I never even thought about that but now that you mention it, you're right, I rarely see non white babies in advertising.

    ReplyDelete