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Are “Momspirational” Videos Bad for Feminism?

Allana Harkin cupcake

I watched a Momspirational video and instantly put on an apron and made cupcakes … you know, like moms do.

If you’re anything like me you cry over other people’s stories.  I know when to be strong but if you tell me a story about how you watched a farmer save three baby lambs you better know that I’ll be bawling. And if you post on Facebook that, “You better grab the kleenex before watching this video,” it’s an almost guarantee that I’ll be cry-yelling within minutes (AKA: when you cry so hard at something that you actually have to start yelling in order to breathe).

I used to blame this entirely on being of Irish heritage but after all these years I just need to admit that I’m a huge giant suck. So you can imagine how destroyed I am when one of these … let’s call them “Momspirational” videos surfaces on Facebook. I’m a mess. Not proud. Just a true sucker for sentimental crap.

You may remember during the Winter Games P&G’s “Thank You, Mom” commercial that featured moms waking kids up in the morning, making breakfast, driving them to practice, watching as they failed and tearing up when they succeeded. And I’m sure you’ve seen the recent Cardstore viral ad for “The World’s Toughest Job” where applicants are given a list of unattainable job requirements that turn out to be the basic things you do as a mom … in the toughest job in the world.

In true Harkin fashion both of these commercials got to me. Yes, I get that they are basically ads promoting a product and that I’m being completely manipulated, but my tears are incredible pushovers. Damn you tears! It’s like I’m their perfect target market … except for the fact I don’t care about the product. But perhaps these savvy advertisers know more than me? That I’ll walk into my local grocery store and see a line of cards or row of cleaning products and start instinctively crying and feel more connected as a mother?

Good thing my husband does at least fifty percent of the shopping or I’d be an emotional mess! I guess I should also be thankful that he got up as much as I did with teething babies. I suppose I should also be grateful when he’s out there running behind my daughter as she learns to ride a bike … just close to enough to catch her if she falls but far enough away to let her feel like she’s doing it herself.

Oh yeah … dads.

Is that a record scratching?!

And this is where these “Momspirational Advertisements” start to fall apart for me. To suggest that MOMS do all the work does not do us women any favors. We can’t have it both ways ladies: Equal pay for equal work and get all the credit for all that hard work in the parenting department? I wan’t to see a commercial that features both sexes as tender loving parents, not just moms. It’s those commercials that will start changing the perception that women can exist outside of the home and still be successful, inspiring parents. That dads can wake children up in the morning and read to them at night and make their lunches and hug and kiss them — because it’s ALL POSSIBLE (if not already fact in your home).

In all of film, women play fifteen percent of the protagonists, but when it comes to advertising I would guess that percentage is MUCH higher. So we are good enough to sell each other products for stain remover and paper rowel but God forbid our real stories exist on the bigger screen? Men and women should certainly be equal but it’s also okay to admit we are different.

As a woman those commercials get to me because I’ve never been more selfless than once I became a mother. You have no choice. And it sucks sometimes because love is so mental. My 4-year-old put her coat away herself yesterday and lined up her boots at the front door without me asking her to — honestly, I have never been more proud. Advertisers know we love our kids. But it’s okay that the message changes. Being a parent is ripe with incredible stories and all of them are relevant. And FYI — they don’t all have to be pulling at the heart strings ADVERTISING PEOPLE. Moms are also HILARIOUS, and ANGRY, and MAKE GIGANTIC MISTAKES. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop bawling at stuff though … it’s just who I am.

The medium is the message. It’s time the message changed.

Here is the P&G commercial. I just bawled again watching it. Should I wash with Tide? No stop! You will not get me!

Here is the Cardstore.com commercial for the World’s Toughest Job. I didn’t cry as much here because I felt bad for the people who NEED A JOB! But when that guy yells “Mom’s are the best!” I welled up a little bit.  I’m still not ordering a card from cardstore:

And this is selling nothing more than GRANDPAS ARE AWESOME. Both my father and my father-in-law cried when I told them I was having my first baby. My dad cry-yelled — hmmmm … maybe that’s where I get it from?:

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