Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Food Allergy Advocates and the Motrin Ad/Babywearing Uprising

Have any of you heard the blogger buzz about this online Motrin ad that offended "babywearing moms" (that is, mothers who believe in keeping their infants close to their bodies in a sling, for bonding reasons)?? Click this link to view this online ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO6SlTUBA38.

Apparently, both Twitter and the mom bloggers who "babywear" were losing it over this ad, so much so that they were able to get the ad killed in like, one day! That's right--an online ad--killed due to the outrage of mothers who were offended by it.

This "news story" was all over the Internet today, and when I flipped open my local paper, The Chicago Tribune, this morning there was an article on the 3rd page about the Motrin ad/babywearing controversy.

I bring this up because we food allergy parents and advocates could learn something from this. After all, offending the notion of babywearing, in my humble opinion, does not pose the same risk to those kids as bad media attitudes towards food allergies does to ours.

I can think of so many mass media examples that send up deadly food allergies as comical or even ridiculous, attitudes received by millions of viewers and having very serious ramifications. For example, I was appalled by a scene in The Nancy Drew Movie, of a couple of summers ago. About halfway through, Nancy performs an emergency tracheotomy --using a pen-- on a girl who was allergic to peanuts and had "passed out" after kissing a boy who ate peanut butter cookies at a party. It was treated in the film as humorous example of Nancy's all-around intelligence and prowess. Imagine trying to console my severely peanut-allergic 7-year-old after seeing this scene. It was no fun. Obviously the "kissing" angle referred to the tragic true story of the Canadian teen who died after kissing a boy who ate peanut butter.

In "Meet the Robinsons" a cartoon character's head explodes due to a peanut allergy--and that is also supposed to be funny. And wasn't there a Will Smith, Eva Mendes movie where he had food allergies and his face swelled up horrifically--garnering huge laughs, of course.

I'm sure there are many other examples, but the point is--we need to speak out when we see stuff like this or even negative or inaccurate news stories. Our kids' collective health can be affected by negative media images about food allergies. I know that FAAN wrote protest letters to the film studios about the Nancy Drew movie and "Meet the Robinsons" but I did not read a thing about this in my local paper.

As the babywearers proved, by speaking out we can affect what images we see in the media--and at a much greater benefit to our kids!


Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

This is so true. I had not seen the first two movies you mentioned, however, I did see the third, before knowing about our allergies. Looking back, it did not do allergy suffers any justice.

On a side note, I am so tired of seeing everything peanut butter advirtised for holidays. There are so many other dessert options out there. I am sad every magazine I pick up has a peanut butter recipe on every other page.

Jenny said...

Me, too, Elaine. This time of year, especially, every magazine has nuts galore in all the recipes. I especially dislike it when they add nuts to common, normally "nut-free" foods like one I just saw for a cranberry pie. Or adding nuts to the stuffing--that drives me crazy! (Nuts, you might say. :)) No one but parents in our shoes realize how adding that one ingredient wipes out the chance that our kids can partake of the meal.

Unknown said...

Great post, Jenny. Thanks for the youtube link, I hadn't seen the Motrin commercial yet but had heard/read about the hullaballoo. I do think we need to speak out more as a group. Sometimes I think the food allergy community relies too much on FAAN to do all the talking. We hear about Food Allergy walks, we hear about tragedies, and bullies...this is why I so enjoy and admire Allergic Girl. She talks about going out and living life with food allergies, and having fun. We need more of that, I think.

Unknown said...

Jenny, is there a way to find out how these baby wearing mom did it? Seriously, I had reached out ( at least wrote to Larry King - after seeing an episode of Jenny McCarthy(sp?) talking about her son with autism. and to Oprah)and i knew my effort is never going to be responded. Again, I have to say, does it really have to be another big time celebrity kids to suffered from food allergy in order to get media attention.
Although I had learned Jessica Parker's son is allergic to peanut and nothing came out of that one.
Jenny, is there is a way, I will be more than happy to help out, we NEED media attention. Loud and clear.

Jenny said...


They used Twitter, I know, and then several of the moms posted their own videos on YouTube. Also, they posted on the company's web site, from what the article says.

I agree-a celebrity would help us, but I guess if we collectively see things that misinform or a truly offensive, then email campaigns and social networking may be ways to spread the word.

Thanks to Jenny and to all of you, for everything you're doing in your daily lives to promote food allergy awareness.

Bella's Mama said...

You have hit the nail on the head. I too often feel like I am without a voice or alone in this battle.

This is the right way of thinking.

Missie said...

Hi there,

I'm a graduate student of Health Communication and the mother of a child who very luckily outgrew her peanut allergy recently.

Like you, I am very upset by the way FA is often used for "humor" in TV shows and movies. So, I have decided to do several research studies on this topic. If we can show scientifically that these kinds of depictions have a negative impact on people, it will help our arguement in convincing writers not to do it.

I have found several TV shows or movies in which an ADULT is the brunt of a joke for their food allergy. However, I would like to find an example of one in which a CHILD is the one having the reaction (that is shown "humorously"). Could you please tell me if you think this Nancy Drew movie would fit the bill (I haven't seen it)? Or do you have any other suggestions?

Thank you so much for any help you can provide me! My email address is mishi_beika@yahoo.com

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