Even though pregnancy, birth and babies are a big part of media and storytelling, the people who have never been through it have a somewhat warped view of the process. While we often see women breathing heavily and yelling at their husbands while in labor under a big sheet tent, we don’t see much about the physical after-effects of birth. That’s because censorship extends to women’s bodies even when images of them aren’t sexual. Actually, there might be even more censorship where unsexy human bodies are concerned—like in this ad for Frida Mom.
The brand sells items designed for people’s post-birth bods, which are in recovery after a pretty intense and potentially damaging event. Again, movies and TV might show women exhausted by an infant, but they usually skip over the more explicit things the body goes through after squeezing out a human. Frida Mom made a commercial that doesn’t skip over anything, and tried to show it at the Oscars. It was rejected.
They decided to share the ad on their own social media platforms, writing in an Instagram post about why they thought it wasn’t allowed to air:
View this post on Instagram
The ad you’re about to watch was rejected by ABC & the Oscars from airing during this year’s award show. It’s not “violent, political” or sexual in nature. Our ad is not “religious or lewd” and does not portray “guns or ammunition”. “Feminine hygiene & hemorrhoid relief” are also banned subjects. It’s just a new mom, home with her baby and her new body for the first time.
Yet it was rejected. And we wonder why new moms feel unprepared. So spray it forward and share this video with every new mom. She deserves to be prepared.
The commercial shows a mom getting out of bed when she hears her baby crying, and stopping in the bathroom. She’s wearing mess postpartum underwear, which you might be discovering for the first time right now. She’s trying to change the pad inside and use all the various products meant to promote healing and prevent infection. Things can get torn up down there.
To be fair, the woman isn’t really wearing pants or anything covering her bottom half throughout the ad, so it’s really not that surprising it didn’t make it to air. But their point about people being unprepared for what the aftercare of birth involves when it comes to their own bodies is very valid. And how will they learn?
Many moms commented on the Instagram post and praised the ad for helping to remove the stigma around postpartum and normalize its raw messiness.
“We were really surprised to hear that feminine hygiene was put in the same category as guns, ammunition, sexually suggestive nudity, religion and politics,” Frida CEO Chelsea Hirschhorn told TODAY Parents. “I was surprised, in this day and age, to see that whomever at whatever organizational level at the Academy and at ABC put in writing that they would analogize feminine hygiene to some of those other, more offensive categories of advertising.”
Whether or not Frida Mom’s grievance with the Academy is valid, it’s definitely working for promotional reasons: the commercial has been viewed on YouTube over two million times. Some of those viewers must have been getting an education.