Did the Oscars just make an enemy of new moms?
The ceremony has already faced criticism for its lack of diversity, especially a lack of POC and women nominees. And now, a new viral video spot by Frida, a company that makes health products for new parents and infants, claims that the Oscars and ABC have rejected the ad they submitted for consideration in this year’s telecast.
The ad in question features a new mother in the midst of postpartum recovery. The video opens with a message about the Oscars and ABC’s decision to strike it from the 2020 show.
“The ad you’re about to watch was rejected by ABC & the Oscars from airing during this year’s award show,” Frida’s message reads. It goes on to list what appears to be a list of content matter banned from the air: “It's not ‘violent, political’ or sexual in nature. Our ad is not ‘religious or lewd’ and does not portray ‘guns or ammunition.’ ‘Feminine hygiene & hemorrhoid relief’ are also banned subjects.
“It’s just a new mom, home with her baby and her new body for the first time,” the ad continues. “Yet it was rejected. And we wonder why new moms feel unprepared.”
The video goes on to introduce Frida Mom, a branch of the Frida brand, and continues with the minute-long spot in full. It opens with a mother waking up at night to care for her baby. She walks to the bathroom, where she changes out of mesh underwear and replaces large pads, among other hygienic and postpartum care tasks. The commercial ends with cutting to a lineup of Frida Mom products.
Controversy has been brewing in the days since Frida posted the video on its online feeds, with commenters, many of them women, voicing their support for the ad and noting how rare it is to see an honest depiction of postpartum recovery in popular media.
Postpartum recovery is often regarded as taboo. New mothers are still subjected to unrealistic body and beauty standards, even after their bodies just went through a massive change — for example, think of the traditional hospital steps photo op just after the birth of a royal baby. Similarly, speaking out about everything from a new mom’s mental health to her sex life is usually off the table.
Some celebrities have also spoken out, echoing those sentiments. Busy Philipps shared the video on Instagram, writing, “I legit teared up when I just watched it. Partially because this is clearly an ad made by women who have been there and get it and partially because I DO believe so strongly that the more we can NORMALIZE A WOMAN'S BODILY EXPERIENCE IN MEDIA, the better off our culture and society will be. AND YES THAT MEANS ADS TOO.”
Michelle Monaghan, Elizabeth Banks, and Hannah Simone, among others, commented on the post in support. Philipps continued, “You probably don't even flinch when an Erectile Disfunction [sic] ad comes on but THIS AD IS REJECTED?! I think this is an incredible piece of advertising that accurately represents something millions of women know intimately. And I'm so fucking sick of living in a society where the act of simply BEING A WOMAN is rejected by the gatekeepers of media. Well. Shame on them and NOT on us for simply being human women.”
Refinery29 has reached out to the Oscars and ABC for comment.