The 'nofilterparenting' campaign on The Lovely Mum Crowd has seen mums from across the UK coming together to share a more realistic take on what motherhood is really like. The Duchess of Cambridge recently delivered a speech which revealed that two out of ten mothers suffer with mental health issues whilst pregnant or within the first twelve months after having a baby. Stats like these are the reason why the 'nofilterparenting' campaign encourages mums to acknowledge that sometimes it's ok to not be ok.
Society piles on the pressure for mums to strive to be what we deem as the 'perfect' mum. Could certain images which are shared across social media, celeb magazines and ad campaigns be adding to this pressure and doing more harm than good? As a mum that suffered with postnatal depression after having my first baby I can vividly remember seeing images of these amazing super-mums everywhere; in shop windows, on the front of packs of nappies, on the TV, on social media streams, in magazines, the list is endless. I doubt they did anything to boost my confidence in being a first time mum or empower me, in fact I am pretty sure they were partly responsible for doing the opposite.
Let's remind ourselves again that the flawlessly presented woman on the front of the nursing bra box has been edited, airbrushed and is more than likely an image that has been created by technology. She is not real. If that nursing bra brand was to choose a 'real-life mum' to put on their packaging she would perhaps have slightly darkened bags under her eyes from lack of sleep, a wobbly tummy (and that is putting it mildly) as well as a few hormonal spots on her face thrown in for good measure. There is nothing wrong with spots, wobbly bits and bags - we all have them!
Having said all of this I appreciate that a woman with baby sick in her hair on the front of the box isn't necessarily going to make the customer reach for it when shopping in Asda, so there's a fine line. We are used to seeing these 'perfect' images everywhere and would perhaps find it a bit odd if they weren't computer generated anymore or airbrushed. Tap in to google a few very well known brands who focus on us, the mum market, and I think you will struggle to find a 'real-life' mum as the face of any of these brands.
Baby Dove yesterday unveiled an image of the Perfect Mum, at Waterloo Station, on Europe's largest billboard. The ad portrays the perfect mother with the question 'Is there a perfect mum?'. It went against everything we know Dove to stand for and sparked much outrage online. I was particularly caught off guard and felt my inner 'portray mothers in a realistic light' rage bubble up.
Today Baby Dove revealed that the image is not in fact a real mum, she is not even a real-life person. She was in fact the face of an experiment. Baby Dove gathered together thousands of images that new mums are exposed to every day in advertisements, magazines and on social media, and used Artificial Intelligence Deep Learning technology to create the face of the Perfect Mum. The Perfect Mum experiment was conducted in response to nationwide research of 3,000 first-time British mums, that revealed that nearly nine out of 10 (88%) first-time mums feel the pressure to be perfect, citing media representations of motherhood in magazines and newspapers (47%); images on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook (33%) and celebrity mums (28%) as the biggest contributors to this pressure.
Was the Perfect Mum image from Baby Dove just one huge PR stunt to make their target market aware of their new product line launching so that they get lots of lovely new mum customers and benefit commercially? I would suggest the answer is yes. Should we hold that against them? Absolutely not. I believe that they have created a game-changer of a move in the world of branding mum-centric products. Whether you end up buying their new product range or not you can rest assured that it seems Baby Dove are one of very few brands that are in our #nofilterparenting corner and for that I thank them. Through their experiment they have revealed shocking statistics which prove that the images representing motherhood across media and socials are doing more harm than good. This has to change. Let's hope the teams behind other mum focused products take a leaf out of the Baby Dove book.