Kids, Dirt, and Dads

February 23, 2009

I recently saw a Huggies commercial that pissed me off.

mrmomfs

The commercial is based around this woman and her kid who are at a park.  She has her baby in a bubble so that he won’t get dirty.  He keeps rolling from activity to activity and not being able to participate because he is in this bubble- so sad.  A dad of another kid is there (I assume he is a stay-at-home dad) and is watching the mom in disbelief.  Then he pulls out a Huggies wipe to clean of his own kid’s face.  The mother sees this and is immediately excited and relieved.  It then cuts to her giving her baby a piece of cake and saying, “no more bubble for you.”  She then wipes his face with a Huggies wipe.

First of all, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Kids are supposed to get dirty and the fact that this ad encourages the hysteria about keeping our kids ultra-clean makes me crazy.  Kids are supposed to have dirt under their finger nails, and cake crumbs on their faces- it is what makes childhood, childhood.  And if you always have a parent hovering over you to wipe away anything little particle of dirt you aren’t actually getting to play.  

It reminds me of a story my friend recently told me.  He went to pick his daughter up at day care after a long, very cold day.  As he arrived the day care worker anxiously apologized for his kid having some paint on her hands from finger painting.  Turns out, in an effort to keep the kids entertained when it was too cold to go outside, they had pulled out the finger paints and let the kids loose.  Apparently parents had already complained that their kids were too messy. Ridiculous. 

We have got to let our kids play, get dirty, and try different things without worrying about the dirt (and inconvenience of an extra bath).

The other part of the ad that really bugged me was that while the mom character was pretty and nicely coifed, the dad character was straight up creepy.  He had a bad ’90s haircut, looked disheveled, and was just unappealing. Now I know I should give them credit for having a dad in the ad but why does he have to be weird?  Why is it that the dads in baby product commercials (when there are dads) are always weird looking?  Is it that ad execs think that moms are so easily distracted by a good looking guy that we will forget the product?  Is it that good looking dads are somehow threatening?  Is it that there is an assumption that any guy who would be that involved in his kid’s life is somehow incapable of being put together?

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