A few short years ago I was working full-time as a television reporter. I was into fashion, read books, loved music, discussed current affairs. I coloured my hair, wore a bikini, watched the news and looked forward to a good party.
I’ve since left my full-time gig in favour of freelance, to be home with my two little boys. Other than that, not much has changed… except maybe my comfort level in a bikini, and the frequency in which I attend said parties.
I have, of course, entered a new demographic. I’m still Gen Y, but I’m now also a mum, who happens to spend a lot more time at home. I still dress the same, think the same, crack the same jokes … Sure, my life revolves around the kids and my social life leaves a lot to be desired, but my mind pretty much remained intact. Yet when I flick on the telly I’m left wondering if I missed the part where new mums are required to enter a phone booth to be transformed into a different species.
Now I know most chick-flicks and TV dramas are full of yummy-mummies and ultra-cool mamas, but when it comes to commercials aimed at we real mums, it’s a different story. Clearly, mums are the target market for a lot of consumer goods, so there’s no shortage of ads, all aimed at the likes of me.
I need Shower Power as much as the next mum, but when I watch these ads, it’s not me I see. I see a mumsy bunch, with matching pony tails, knickerbockers and collared shirts. Which begs the question, does giving birth and taking on a few home duties mean the end of skinny jeans, summer dresses and high heels?
But it’s not just the daggy dress code that leaves me cringing at the women I’m supposed to be relating to. It’s the use of a magnifying glass to clean the toilet, the inward gloat when friends use the bright white bowl, the excitement over the war against insects, the sheer delight in eliminating odors. (Ok that last one is pretty great).
Don’t get me wrong, I wear trackies with the best of them. I cook, clean, even compare nappy brands (hey, I’ll even admit to watching The Bold and the Beautiful when time permits). But most advertisements would have you believe the sparkle of the shower floor is a daily highlight for mums. And if a neighbour stops by and happens to witness said sparkle, well, that’s even better!
Am I alone in my frustration, I wonder? Are my shiny bathroom taps really enough to make my friends green with envy? Am I the only one aggravated by the whole “becoming-a-mum-means-you-have-nothing-better-to-think-about-than-the-shine-of-your-toilet-bowl” routine?
Convinced there are no mums in advertising, I ask a friend in the business why then does it seem all the advertising for mum is built on stereotypes? To my surprise, she assures me, all campaigns are actually based on research.
”It could be that although we do not like the use of stereotypes, they may actually work,” says my friend, owner of Hamilton Creative. “Maybe what we see is truly how life is for some. As much as we hate the stereotype, does it work for the subconscious mind of the shopper?”
Do most mums really spend their day worrying about that stain they saw on hubby’s shirt as he walked out the door?
Perhaps there’s no such thing as an average mum, be they Gen Y or any other generation. At the end of the day, we’re all human.
Now – time to try that new stain remover.
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