Why Did Equinox’s Breastfeeding Ad Cause Controversy?
Stick your finger in an electrical socket in the year 2016 and I doubt you’d even feel a tickle. We’ve lost the ability to feel shock and for this, I blame how hard we’re trying to shock each other. Never mind the reality that profanities are a part of our daily vernacular. Blood and guts are nothing to fans of gore, and if you’ve seen one nipple, you’ve seen them all. The only thing that shocks me these days is when people get shocked.
But somehow, yesterday, the above Equinox ad sparked controversy because, I don’t know if you noticed, there are two babies being breastfed in the arms of media heiress Lydia Hearst at a dinner table in a fancy restaurant.
The campaign’s accompanying hashtag is #committosomething, which, if you think about it, is a pretty powerful and positive message. Commit to confidence, it espouses. To public oneness and to discarding shame. Yet if you scan the comments on Equinox’s Facebook page, you’ll see a cocktail of disgust, discomfort and praise. There’s some confusion, too — Lydia Heart is childless, so whose kids are these?
One commenter pointed out that she isn’t breastfeeding at all, she’s just “shoving her breasts in two babies’ mouths.”
“Use a real mother,” said commenter recommended.
Other viewers were grossed out by the public, glamorized act of breastfeeding. The underlying sentiment? “No one needs to see that.”
And then there were those who were mad. This has nothing to do with working out.
So where to start — from the bottom up?
Equinox’s tagline is, “It isn’t fitness. It’s life.” Breastfeeding isn’t “fitness” either, but consider the exhausting toll pregnancy takes on a woman’s body. Think of the number of calories that breastfeeding burns. And then remember that breastfeeding quite literally gives life.
But for argument’s sake, say none of that were true — what if this ad actually made zero sense?
Skittles ads make no sense.
Remember this Starburst one?
That is pointless, but it didn’t invite a public media quarrel.
So, is this ad is causing controversy because breastfeeding in public riles people up? Because there’s a never-ending war on another’s entitlement to command what a women can and can’t do with her body? If you don’t agree, maybe it’s because she’s not a real mother. That seems like valid reason to be annoyed. Or maybe it’s because they didn’t just “normalize” what’s normal, they glamorized it. According to the women in my life who have children, breastfeeding is beautiful, yes. But it isn’t glamorous. Does it once again boil down to the reality that as consumers of media, we are being conditioned to react without thinking? Maybe the scrubbing clean of discomfort on college campuses is affecting distant graduates with just as much force.
Image sourced from Yahoo