My response to Mayim Bialik’s response to ‘THAT’ commercial

So it was doing the rounds in all our networks a couple of weeks back THAT advert (this one if you’ve not had the pleasure yet).
And this week Mayim Bialik – you know her, the one off of Big Bang Theory or, if you’re of a certain age, remember Blossom? – she threw her two pence worth into the ring with her thoughts on that advert.
Mayim Bialik at the 36th Annual Gracie Awards Gala – Mingle Media TV
Now I have to say Mayim, I like you. I think you have done a lot to raise the profile of breast feeding in a country with no statutory provision for maternity leave, where there are no meaningful controls on the marketing and selling of ‘artificial baby milk’ to mothers and where the term ‘baby friendly hospital’ (like there could even be anything else) is an actual thing. You are also a very funny lady on the telly.
Long story short, Mayim don’t like it. She tells us ‘don’t fall for it ladies! It’s just a commercial, thought up by those devious minds at the ad company to get you to buy their milk, to normalise bottle feeding, to choose bottle feeding over breast feeding and all done under the auspice of trying to unite us all and end the mamma wars!’. Bad, bad, bad.
Well now here’s a curious thing. Before Mayim told me it was a Similac commercial, I didn’t know what brand of formula it was advertising. For the uninitiated amongst you Similac is one of the leading brands of formula in the States where there is probably double the number of brands available to chose from on any given supermarket shelf.
Indeed, I watched this short film, I found it mildly amusing. I’ll admit it hit a nerve for me, like it or not we humans are tribal beasts. I have raised my son for the past year super aware that I was not in the breast-feeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping mamma tribe, for no other reason other than none of these things worked out for us, but still, it resonated, as it was designed to do.  And I will admit the overriding feeling I had after watching the commercial was one of feeling slightly less shit about being a formula mum. Because after all, it’s not a criminal offence and I haven’t actually done anything ‘wrong’.
I should probably point out that live in a country (England) where the advertising and marketing of infant formula for children under 6 months is prohibited by law, so it’s hard for me to know how I would have been influenced by commercial like this if I was a pregnant woman considering my feeding options or a new mum struggling to breastfeed. I guess I would have talked it through with my health care professionals and they could have given me all the facts and let me make my own educated decision.
What actually happened was I never saw or heard mention of a thing about bottle feeding until on the first night after giving birth I was stood in a neonatal intensive care unit looking at my baby being fed formula through a tube up his nose.
So let’s have a look at some facts and figures shall we? How about a straight forward comparison of breastfeeding rates at birth and 3 months between a country with rampant, seemingly ungoverned infant formula advertising and one without. That would seem a logical way of proving the influence advertisers have over the choices and habits of new mothers, right?
% of babies breastfed at birth
% of babies exclusively breast fed at 3 months
UK*
81%
17%
USA**
79%
40%
I’m not going to insult your collective intelligence by explaining the above, its self explanatory.
Just to clarify, I am not for one minute suggesting that the controls on advertising in the UK should be slackened and I’m not saying it wouldn’t be beneficial for the rules to be tightened up in the USA. But what seems fairly clear to me is that women aren’t quite as dumb and easily influenced as the ad men think, and Mayim Bialik, think they are.
And so Mayim at the end of your article about THAT commercial you implored us all ‘not to fall for it‘. I am really pleased to tell you that it turns out you’re in luck, because we didn’t.
*Unicef
**National Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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