Witness, from ADT:
Now, I could quibble that her rings are awfully droopy and the toddler looks like he might fling himself right out of that loose and low back, but — ring sling! Arguably the least trendy sling in the Western market.2 It really looks like the stock photographer just happened upon this family on the street and said, "Hey, can you stand next to each other and I'll sell your picture? 'kthanks." Very casual and real.
And then there's this Sears commercial I fast forwarded past and then rewound to be sure I really did see what I thought I saw:
Here's a screen shot from the above video if you don't want to watch it:
A stretchy wrap! Is that a real baby in it? Arguably not. But it could be! It's at least being worn appropriately, and the (fake) mom looks (fakely) solicitous of her (fake) baby.
So what do you think of this? I have these strangely mixed reactions.
On a community level, I'm all like fist-pumping and saying, Woot! Babywearing made normal! We're not freaks anymore!
On an advocacy level, I'm excited that baby carriers that aren't the typical crotch-danglers3 or, more usually still, baby bucket car seats, are getting air time. Maybe someone will see that commercial and wonder what sort of comfy carrier that is and go try to find same.
On a somewhat foolish, emotional level, I feel a little — I don't know — ambivalent? Well, I guess that's the meaning of the term. I start wondering if we're being taken advantage of as a trendy demographic to sell home security and appliances to. I start feeling possessive (this is the silliest reaction) of our ("our"!) cool wraps and slings and want to cuddle them up so they don't get sullied by the general population (seriously? This is in my head?). I congratulate myself on babywearing because it's best for my baby (and my back…) and feel superior (let's get all the ugliness out there for the world to see) to anyone who will do it just because it's the "in" thing. I fear that normalization like this will somehow make babywearing a fad … that then becomes wildly popular … that then becomes widely derided … that then gets discarded for something else.
It's strange, because I don't mind the idea of normalizing breastfeeding at all. I guess I'm not quite as worried that it will be left in the dust, considering all the increased knowledge we have (and that's still coming out) about breastfeeding's benefits. So if, when my sons are my age, breastfeeding is something that everyone (who has kids and lactates) does, I'll just be excited, not weird about it. I mean, I'll reminisce to anyone who will listen about the time when we had to make actual laws protecting the right to breastfeed in public, and how some states refused to make them, and the people around me will alternately gasp at the backwardness of such a time, or yawn that I'm telling this story again (that will be Mikko and Alrik).
But, somehow, despite the advantages of babywearing, I worry that people will see it as a take-it-or-leave-it trend rather than a lifestyle.
Or maybe I'm overthinking it? I'll turn it over to you:
Have you seen babywearing in advertising lately? What has your reaction been?
1 I personally don't recommend BabyBjörn-type carriers because they're less comfortable for the parent and they definitely look less comfortable for the child. There are many voices saying that the posture of having a child put weight on hir crotch is not the best ergonomic idea, and that seems like common sense to me, whether or not it's actually damaging. There are voices saying, too, that turning babies in toward the parents rather than facing out (as the BB is commonly used) is less overstimulating. However, I know many families in real life and online who use a Baby Björn or Snugli because (a) they like it and/or (b) because it's all they have, and I have to get over my prejudices just to say: Kudos for keeping your baby close and happy. Now: May I please send you a fleece mei tai…?↩
2 Is that even true, or is it just my perception? I feel like soft structured carriers have been a staple, with the BabyBjörn and Snugli and, among crunchier types, the ERGO and Beco and similar; that pouches are considered hip and form-fitting enough for the fabulous; and that stretchy wraps have inflitrated the market, the Moby Wrap and Sleepy Wrap in particular leading the charge. I suppose woven wraps might challenge ring slings for least seen on the streets, although non-babywearing types would be hard pressed to distinguish a woven from a stretchy. What am I forgetting? Oh! I guess mei tais that aren't soft structured like the ERGO. Well, I still think those look pretty cool. I don't know — the ring sling is very versatile, and I have several and like them, but I think they have an image of being only for hippies, amirite? Hee. I won't even go into onbuhimo or podeagi or kanga — I'm talking carriers that are at least commonly marketed in the U.S. and similar countries.↩
3 See, that's what we call a BabyBjörn when we're trying to be obnoxious and exclusionary.↩
with the companies shown in the advertisements here.
The ads are property of the copyright holders.
Amazon links are affiliate and are used primarily for illustration,
though if you want to buy anything after clicking on them, feel free!
See my full disclosure policy here.