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Suave Under Fire for Breastfeeding Commercial

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hmm, file this under "wait, what?"

I've heard a lot of buzz the last month or two about the Suave commercial that features a breastfeeding mom. Discussion forums, blogs, email lists and even my own inbox have been ripe with posts from moms that love the commercial that shows a breastfeeding mom and implies that Suave can help you stay cool through all of life's stages.

If I recall the commercial correctly (I think I've seen it once) there's this fast-forward style video of a mom going through all stages of mothering (pregnancy, holding an infant that appears to be nursing, chasing kids, etc...) and then talks about how Suave helps her stay cool and collected. (This is in opposition to the one that talks about how most of us moms have "let ourselves go" but that Suave can help us get back to our sexy selves.)

So I was kind of surprised to find out that NAAO (National Action Against Obesity) is protesting Suave.

From their Press Release:

National Action Against Obesity demands Suave Shampoo pull its anti-breastfeeding TV ad.

Suave TV Spot Concept:
Nursing leaves both your hair and chest flat. Suave can help with one.

"We get the joke," said NAAO President MeMe Roth (who nursed her two children, each for a year). "But misconceptions about nursing have to stop. A flat chest can be blamed on yo-yo dieting, age, genetics--and don't forget gravity--but not nursing.

Hmm...haven't seen this one. Believe me, if I had, you guys would have heard about it. Quite honestly, I'm surprised that I haven't had an email from any readers yet that have spotted it either...

So I'm curious, have any of you spotted it? I certainly wouldn't find it to be amusing, though quite honestly, nothing save a very lengthy breast reduction surgery could make MY chest flat.

And for pete's sake, would someone PLEASE upload these commercials somewhere so that we can all see them? I don't have a DVR, or I'd do it myself.


  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 3:36 PM |  

    I hope someone posts a video soon. In the meantime, here's a recap of the commercial.

    Commercial opens with a tired looking mom nursing her baby.
    Switches to graphics that say "X% of women say that having a baby made their hair and breasts flat." (emphasis mine)
    Back to tired looking mom nursing her baby.
    Then a pic of Suave shampoo and graphics say "we can help you with your hair"
    Back to pic of mom with big hair, nursing her baby.

    IMO, the corelation is between having a baby and breasts going flat, not necessarily nursing. They could have shown the exact same comercial with no baby at all, or with mom bottle feeding the baby. They chose to portray breastfeeding as part of having a baby.

    TBH, I thought it was a nice portrayal of someone actualy nursing. It is a rare example of nursing in our society, and way less offensive than the "Notes From The Underbelly" tv show!

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 3:51 PM |  

    Well, it's only anti-breastfeeding if you take the stance that flat breasts are unattractive.

    I have to admit...mine are pretty deflated (although still large--don't ask) now. Oh well.

    It's one of those vanity things things that would be nice to have, but I wouldn't have traded for time with the baby.

    Haven't seen the commercial, though...I don't watch much TV.

  3. Blogger mamaloo | 7:46 AM |  

    I can't recall the commercial, but I know that I recently yelled at the TV: "breastfeeding doesn't make your boobs flat, pregnancy does!" It may have been in response to this commercial or to a moronic sitcom, I can't recall. I'll keep an eye out for it from now on, however.

  4. Blogger MKM | 8:32 AM |  

    lol reading this I actually said "wait, what?" then realized those were your opening words too.

    What exactly is NAAO's point? I'm not understanding what they are getting up in arms about.

    But I think they are on to something - Suave should have showed the woman trying to prepare a bottle at 3 a.m. with a screaming hungry infant behind her. MUCH harder to stay cool right parents? :-)

  5. Blogger Stacy | 8:34 AM |  

    I have seen the commercial and do not find it offensive. I love that there is an image of a breast feeding mom on TV. I don't believe it's anti-breastfeeding at all.

  6. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 12:06 PM |  

    I think I'm going to have to see it to know what my reaction would be.

    From the description of my4boys comment, it really doesn't sound offensive to me. I think I'd probably actually be pretty happy that they assumed a mom would breastfeed and that they'd show it.

  7. Blogger Unknown | 8:00 PM |  

    I have seen it and I laughed at it...it was quite amusing and honestly refreshing to see...I thought it did relate flat breasts to nursing, not having children. I think it is a great commercial and not one that we lactivists, OR those who are obese, need to get all ruffled about.

  8. Blogger MeredithPR | 2:04 PM |  

    Hi There...My days of nursing are behind me... but it's essential we protect...and encourage breastfeeding. It's a national health imperative...

    Unilever/Suave speaks from both sides of its mouth. With Dove, it's "You're beautiful, except buy this anti-cellulite cream." "We campaign for 'Real Beauty,' but buy yourself a fake tan w/ our cream."

    Now it's Suave. You'll find a nursing mom icon on their website, yet in their hip commercial (using imagery solely of a nursing mother), the message is breastfeeding makes you flat. It's fantastic to have images of women nursing on tv...it should be the norm. However associating breastfeeding with flat breasts is NOT an endorsment...it's yet another example of Unilever wanting to have it both ways...

    If you read the full press release, you'll see NAAO asks to either pull the ad or suggests a re-write. Additionally, NAAO asks Unilever/Suave to genuinely encourage breastfeeding by campaigning for it, committing funds to it, and sponsoring ultra-luxe nursing stations across the country:

    America thanks you for nursing! You help us all by safeguarding your child's health.


    MeMe Roth
    National Action Against Obesity

    To view commercial:

    Click Beauty Icon
    Click Moms Transformations
    Click From Flat to Fabulous

    Email Unilever: comments@unilever.com

  9. Blogger Michelle | 6:54 PM |  

    I saw the ad and was very surprised as it started to see breastfeeding mothers. Wow! I thought, breastfeeding in the mainstream. Unfortunately, as the ad continued, I was very offended by the comment that breastfeeding would leave my breasts flat. Are there not enough offenses against women's bodies in the media that they now have to attack the breasts of breastfeeding moms? No, I'm not 6 feet tall and 120 pounds, and I never have been. No, I don't have the perky, oversized breasts seen in car and beer commercials. However, I am proud of my body. I am proud of the stretch marks on my belly that brought three children into this world. I am proud of my "flat" breasts that nurtured these three beautiful, healthy children!

    If they wanted to have a positive commercial that supported breastfeeding moms, it would have been very easy. They could have had an ad that acknowledged that breastfeeding moms are taking care of their babies (and probably everyone else in their lives), so why not take care of themselves by using this product?

    Perhaps Suave will focus on my stretch marks or vericose veins in its next ad. Shame on Suave for its insensitivity and stupidity!!
    I did write to Suave to let them know that this "flat-breasted" breastfeeding mother would never purchase their product again.

  10. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 10:35 AM |  

    Unfortunately, as the ad continued, I was very offended by the comment that breastfeeding would leave my breasts flat.

    Umm...Michelle, how did it "comment" that breastfeeding would leave your breasts flat?

    What it said was "having a baby." It never says breastfeeding.

    The truth is that having a baby (pregnancy) DOES impact your breasts and changes them forever for moms of both breastfed and formula fed infants.

    I guess I don't see how that's offensive. If the commercial was exactly the same, but featured a mom feeding via a bottle, would you think it said that bottle feeding made your breasts flat?

  11. Blogger Michelle | 12:39 PM |  

    I am a mother of three children and I know that pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding impact a woman's body.

    To me, the ad was offensive. Showing mothers doing something normal, like breastfeeding their children, and denigrating these mothers by making statements about "flat breasts" is offensive to me. It would be as offensive if they pointed out the stretch marks on my belly or the vericose veins on my legs. Instead of pointing out the imperfections and instead of using social stereotypes, such as breastfeeding mothers with flat breasts, Suave could have easily focused on the positive aspects of mothering and the nurturing that they do for their families.

    If you still do not understand my position, think of it this way: 62% of men with erectile dysfunction claim that they have a limp penis and limp hair. Well, Suave can't do anything for the penis, but we can give them great hair! Does it sound stupid? It should. And the flat breasts commercial sounds just as stupid as a limp penis commercial.

    If you don't understand why I am offended, that is OK. But please give me the courtesy to acknowledge my feelings as legitimate. I know that I am not alone in my feelings and represent a group of women who were offended by this commercial.

    Women in our society are inundated with unrealistic images of skinny, large breasted women. As mothers, we do not need commercials pointing out the imperfections in our bodies that were made by the sacrifice of pregnancy, childbearing and/or breastfeeding.

    Women, especially mothers, should be respected.

  12. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 12:47 PM |  


    I don't think I ever said you couldn't be offended. You can be offended by whatever you want.

    But what you said was that the commercial said that BREASTFEEDING makes your chest flat. The commercial doesn't say that. You may feel that it implies that, but it doesn't SAY that breastfeeding makes them flat. Instead it says that motherhood does.

    I have no problem with you being upset or offended, though I don't feel the same way. I simply want to make sure that I've clarified what the commercial says since many moms haven't seen it and word keeps getting spread that the text of the commercial is "breastfeeding/nursing makes your breasts flat."

    Just going for accuracy here.

  13. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:38 AM |  

    I thought it was an AWESOME commercial and I give them props for being so bold to air it. I don't know many women that can honestly say that "motherhood" (which includes breastfeeding for many) hasn't taken away a bit of perkiness from their breasts.

    Kudos to Suave!

  14. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:44 AM |  

    If you go to http://www.suave.com/ and click the "beauty" icon, click "transformations" and "flat to fabulous" you can watch the commercial.

  15. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:26 PM |  

    I have seen the commercial and, since I am very proud of my ability to exclusively breastfeed my 5mth old daughter, was glad to see a mother breastfeeding on tv. There are not enough women who tackle such a wonderful bonding experience with their child whether the can't or choose not t. I think it was refreshing and the commercial achieved its goal with me, I ran out to buy the shampoo asap, since I am loosing my hair while nurishing my child. We will see if Suave holds its promiss. But personally I would rather go bald than stop nursing. Me I say way to go Suave, you got my dollar.

  16. Blogger Jamie | 4:06 PM |  

    I have nursed three of my kids to some extent and honestly did not think anything negative about that ad. I was like "Heeey look! Suave put a nursing mom on TV...COOL!"

    click on the 'beauty' icon, then click 'transformations' and then select 'flat to fabulous' to watch it

  17. Blogger worldwide | 2:38 AM |  

    I too was offended by this commercial. Even though they said "having a baby" makes your breasts flat, the image of the nursing mother implies that it's breastfeeding that makes them flat. Either way, it is not a positive message. If I were a young woman without children, I would not see that as a positive endorsement for having children (OR breastfeeding). I feel this message just fuels the stereotype that having babies "ruins" a woman physically. Yes we go through changes, but I don't need ads to say my breasts will be flat from having kids when our cultural stereotype of beauty is big perky breasts. What this ad did for me was to make me feel self-conscious about my post-baby body. Do they think they can make us feel so desperately insecure that we'll buy their products to try to look better? No thanks. I agree wholeheartedly with the poster who said they could have had a very positive message, that moms take care of everyone else, take some time to take care of yourself too.

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