It's Ridiculously Stupid That Pregnant Women Aren't in Mainstream Ads
Considering that most women in their lifetimes will at one point or another become pregnant, it's pretty ridiculous that they are all but invisible in advertisements. Sure, we see those perfectly round bellies in commercials, but the pregnancy is either used as part of a punchline, to sell something related to babies, or to convey a feeling of wholesome family goodness.
What you do not see is a woman in an commercial for computers who is at work, doing her job, and who also just happens to be pregnant. Considering that nearly 73 percent of pregnant women also work, this seems entirely short-sighted and misguided. The assumption, of course, at least in the world of advertising, is that a pregnant woman can be used as in a commercial as long as the pregnancy itself plays a role.
In trying to search for ads on YouTube to prove myself wrong, I went down a rabbit hole of commercials ranging from bad to just plain awful and offensive. Most of these ads relied on sight gags, stereotypes, and the old trope that men are stupid. Women are hormone-crazed and craving random combinations while the husbands don't know what to do. Isn't that hysterical? Check out the good, the bad, and the ugly commercials ahead.
Maybe it's because Kristen Bell and I are meant to be BFFs, but this ad is clearly the best at showing a woman who is pregnant where her condition isn't the main focal point. Yes, it plays a role, but it doesn't dominate the screen time.
At first glance, there's nothing entirely offensive about this ad. I remember my mom even calling it cute. Adorableness aside, it's still an ad that uses pregnancy as a sight gag — the joke, of course, being that pregnant women aren't supposed to dance sexily, which is fairly ironic because pregnancy and sex kind of go hand in hand.
In most of the advertisements that I found, women and their pregnancies are foils for the man to do or say something stupid. I can't help but feel like this is a continuation of bad jokes that I'm just not understanding.
Pregnant women are being objectified and are not seen as real people with wants and needs; instead, they're merely props and punchlines. Tokenism is not the same thing as representation.
Then there are the crop of videos that are simply sentimental when a pregnant woman is there to tug at the heartstrings. Ads like this one are fine — I even enjoy them, because who doesn't love seeing an adorable family? However, to the advertiser, the pregnancy is still just a prop.
Yes, pregnant women can be nurturing and hormone-crazed, but they can also be athletes or CEOs and drive cars. It's time advertisers recognize that pregnant women are more than just a vehicle for gags, offensive behavior, and sentimentality.