Breastfeeding social campaigns: a serious and honest analysis

World Breastfeeding Week

Year – Brazilian godmother of the campaign Slogan
1999 – Luiza Brunet (top model)amamentação Luiza Brunet cartaz1999 Breastfeeding is educating for life. Let’s re-learn!
2000 – Glória Pires (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. Good for the mother. Better for the baby.
2001 – Isabel Fillardis (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. A very special way of communication.
2002 – Claudia Rodrigues (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding is giving your baby health in the form of love.
2003 – Luiza Thomé (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. Health and peace for a better world.
2004 – Maria Paula (actress and writer)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Until your baby is six months old, the shift from the right breast to the left one must be the only change in his/her feeding.
2005 – Vera Viel e Maria Paula (actresses)Brazilian actresses breastfeeding Until your baby is six months old, he/she only needs breast milk. After this, offer other foods and keep breastfeeding.
2006 – Cássia Kiss (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. Assuring this right is everybody’s responsibility.
2007 – Vanessa Lóes (with Thiago Lacerda) (actress and actor)Brazilian actress breastfeeding with her husband Breasfeeding in the first hour, protection without delay.
2008 – Dira Paes (and mother) – actressBrazilian actress breastfeeding Nothing is more natural than breastfeeding. Nothing is more important than supporting.
2009 – Claudia Leitte (singer)Brazilian singer breastfeeding Breastfeeding at all moments. More health, love and protection.
2010 – Wanessa Cristina and other mothersThree woman; two pregnant woman with another one breastfeeding Breastfeed. Give your child the best.

Social campaigns for donation of expressed breast milk – Ministry of Health Services – Brazilian Government

2008 – Camila Pitanga (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding and donating expressed milk Donate expressed milk, life thanks you.
2009 – Samara Fillipo (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Donate expressed breast milk, life thanks you.

Analysis

The posters aim:

  • Valuing (and even glamourizing) breastfeeding;
  • Enlightening the benefits for both mother and child;
  • Emphasizing the advantages of breast milk;
  • Expressly recommending exclusive breastfeeding until the baby is six months old;
  • Calling for the responsibility of all of the people involved: father, other relatives, employer.

Important, worthy, opportune, necessary, amazing, inspiring: all of those things were more than revered in those campaigns. However, there are other aspects beyond the UNQUESTIONABLE example of beautiful social marketing campaign, which deserve an analysis.

The poster in 2010 calls for attention because it is the first in a series, for 12 years, that shows mothers who are not celebrities. Also, there is a black person as the central figure. Images of breastfeeding are essentially “white”; the exception is Isabel Fillardis, in 2001.

Another new thing in 2010 is the presence of pregnant women, i.e., breastfeeding is an attitude to be embraced early in gestation.

The third different feature is the breastfeeding mother looking at the baby (even if in the smaller picture). Mostly, mothers are not looking at the babies, but at the spectator, reinforcing the appeal, when they act as spokespeople of the campaign (the exception is the poster with Vanessa Lóes and the ones for milk donation). This behavior also denotes an incisive pose for the photo, an artificial moment as well as the mother’s highlight, the hero who deserves be applauded and followed. Colors, environment, smiles, everything contributes to the atmosphere of serenity and delight, and leads to the understanding that breastfeeding is a natural fact/act since the beginning/always and has no difficulties – even when there are twins (Luiza Tomé) or big children (Maria Paula).

The mother who doesn’t see that atmosphere when she tries to breastfeed (she feels pain, sore nipples, breast engorgement, fissures, fatigue, lack of support, instead) thinks that something is wrong – with her.

Positive changes are a good beginning in the campaigns. Yet what really is absent in all posters is something beyond the phrase “for further information, please call…” with telephone numbers or websites. A crucial recommendation is not explicit on those posters: “In case of difficulties, please call…”

As in all good ads, nobody wants to talk about problems. This analysis intends to focus on the help, the support. The mothers may check the credibility of the campaign, when they cannot reproduce the perfect spirit in the pictures, and even give up, thinking that breastfeeding is only for celebrities (who enjoy a whole universe, which is not accessible for “mortal” women).

(Actually, that information is available, in the material for health professionals. It was not created for the public at large. Ministry of Health Services – Brazilian Government issued a great, honest and plural primer, with “people like us”; so different from the posters! It’s worth visiting it:   Cartilha de Amamentação –   in Portuguese.)

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You can also see:

Because we are mammals – analysis

Because we are mammals – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: Campanhas de amamentação – uma análise séria e franca

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Letter to my children

Dear Kids:

If, in the next year…

… we have to spend a sleepless night, may we enjoy the rare opportunity to watch the sun rising.

…we have to deal with a health problem, may we learn to understand our body signs.

…we cry, may the tears come like the rain that fertilizes dreams.

… we get angry, may we comprehend the immense creative power of that energy, when channeled.

… we are forced to stop, may we know how to wait, like the seed that is never late and is never early to germinate.

… we find obstacles, may we take pride in feeling like students doing a test for an advanced level.

… we have a loss, may we discover strength in faith.

… we face unmannered people, may we remember Francis of Assisi and be instruments of Peace.

… we are instruments of Peace, may dreams, health, happiness, friendship, creativity, patience, victory, earnings and harmony come in addition.

… and may the year be good.

hand with an hourglass

Image: Desktop Nexus

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You can also see:

The origami angel

This post in Portuguese: Carta a meus filhos

Things that only those who have three (or more) kids know

Only those who have three (or more) kids…

… brush, at least, 32 (yours) + 20 + 20 + 20 (92!) teeth, three times a day;

… cut 80 nails every week;

… hold the hands of two kids to cross the street and ask one of them to hold the hand of the third kid – something that they never accept;

… have to take two taxicabs to carry the whole family;

… buy weekly, at the supermarket, what the others buy monthly;

… realize, as unviable, any carpooling – unless both you and your neighbor have a minibus;

… need two sofas for watching TV;

… in travels, must book two rooms at the hotel, after the youngest kid is 3. And thank God when the hotel has combined rooms;

… have to plan a big logistic operation when traveling with them. And, if it is a trip only for mom and dad, have to leave a big logistic operation for the heroes who will stay with the kids;

… ought to manage three homeworks, three schedules, three exams each bimester, three school supplies, three report cards. And still have to attend three parent teacher meetings at the school. However, also deserve a little discount on the school payments of the youngest kid;

… realize that they are the masters of confusion, in endless combinations: the oldest one x the youngest ones; the youngest one x the oldest ones; the oldest one + the youngest one x the middle one; boys x girls; all x all…

…earn three cute gifts, made by them, and watch three shows for Mother’s Day every year (and cry in all of them);

… find out that 3 is the minimum ideal number for any play: hide-and-seek, tag, games, etc!

… find out that, now, they are the majority at home…

… hear: “Are you a mother of three? You are…” (complete the phrase):

(   ) in high spirit

(   ) encouraged

(   ) busy

(   ) determined

(   ) inconsequent

(   ) a warrior

(   ) mature

(   ) lucky

(   ) a ninja

(   ) admirable

(   ) happy

(   ) crazy

(   ) all of the above

And still there are those who ask: “When does the fourth kid come????”

The truth is: people are wrong when they think of applying economies of scale techniques when the matter is children. It’s impossible. Kids need (and we do, too) individual real time. Chronological time.

People are wrong when they think of a mere multiplication by three. I believe that we have to raise it to the third power:

  • Challenges cubed;
  • Responsibilities cubed;
  • Opportunities for growth cubed;
  • Love cubed – this is really good!!!

drawing with a father, a mother and three children

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You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

Is your baby as mine?

School Lunch

It was so cute when they… yet I miss…

This post in Portuguese: Coisas que só quem tem três filhos (ou mais) sabe o que são

School Lunch

jack and the beanstalk

Len Ebert / Picturebook

I was picking my three children up at school. Then, they started having the following conversation, on the back seat of the car:

1. “When I grow up, I wanna be a restaurant.”

2. “You cannot be a restaurant. A restaurant is not a living thing. Living things are people, animals, plants…”

1. “Ok, then I wanna be a tree.”

2. “You look like a bean, that’s it!”

1. “So, I’m gonna grow up to the sky!”

3. “The bean plant cannot reach the sky.”

1. “Yes, it does! The bean plant of Jack and the Beanstalk did!”

3. “It’s a made-up story by the Europeans. They like that kind of tale.”

2. “Things like giant kingdoms don’t exist. The sky is something sacred, Mommy told me.”

1. “You mean, did Jack of the Beanstalk meet God?”

And me driving the car and thinking to myself: what did they put in these kids’ food at school????

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You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

The Tooth Fairy

It was so cute when they…yet I miss…

This post in Portuguese: Merenda

It was so cute when they… yet I miss…

It was so cute when they…

… yet I miss…

… started grabbing their little pillows, saying good night and going to bed by themselves… … seeing them with “combed” squeezed eyes until sleeping in my arms.
… learned how to take a bath by themselves… …wrapping them with a towel, all perfumed and fresh.
… learned how to read… … when they would invent the stories only by looking the images.
… started to wake up and play, waiting for us to get up… … when they would go tiptoeing to call us in our bedroom.
… were promoted to the advanced swimming class… … when they did the baby swimming class and we would go with them in the pool.
… started using the first little underclothes… … (A LOT!!!) the diapers when they sprinkle the whole bathroom except the toilet (boys), or when we are out and they ask to poop, and the public WC is the dreaded mess of the eeew of the yuck.

You can also see:

Are your kids as mine?

Is your baby as mine?

This post in Portuguese: Achei lindo quando… mas sinto falta de…

Juggling mother? No, thanks

juggling mother

Image: Journal Times – Tim Ludwig / The Wichita Eagle / MCT)

The term “the juggled life” suggests an existence characterized by ceaseless activity, awareness, and concentration, in which the real “trick” lies in maintaining the illusion of effortlessness.

[…] The consequences for successful juggling are even worse than the consequences of doing it poorly. The better at it you are, the harder and longer you will work. The more accomplished your performance, the more invisible your efforts become.

(MAUSHART, Susan. “The Mask of Motherhood – how becoming a mother changes our lives and why we never talk about it.” Penguin Books)

I work at the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil (House of Representatives), in the Social Communication sector. On March 31st, 2011, as part of the celebration for International Women’s Month, the talk show “Woman and her plurality of roles” was presented. The image for publicity was a sequence of illustrations with the same woman in several situations: as a manager, a mother, an athlete, a housewife and so on.

At that time, I had posted on Facebook my discomfort about that image: “not due to the plurality itself, because it can be enriching, but due to the insisting concept that presents the multitasking and perfect woman in all roles. It’s even said it’s an innate feminine brain attribute, meant as natural, with no question. To me, that “pedestal” just leads to a fragmented, exhausting and frustrating life.”

Woman and her plurality of rolesThe comments were nice! From the idea that everybody can be manifold, both men and women; the verification that we can assume a tiring madness even when we are aware we don’t need it. And the will of being only “me”, without any role…

My friend Vera Morgado, the event presenter, suggested me to open that reflection in the debate.

My question to the debaters was:

“So much is said about the juggling woman. But the juggler has the plates in the air. She doesn’t appropriate the plates. She doesn’t prioritize any of them in order to avoid them to drop. When a plate falls down, it’s she who breaks. And when she handles the plates, the show is over and nobody pays attention anymore. How can we get rid of this metaphor?”

The answers were very interesting!

The actress Elisa Lucinda talked about the danger for us, when we confound our personality with the tasks we do. She also asked us to not suffer with the dropped plate: “after all, there’s the saying ‘The rings go away, the fingers stay’ (in English, the saying is “Better lose the saddle than the horse.”). I say: ‘the breastpins go away, the breasts stay’.”

The psychologist Carmita Abdo said that we should take advantage of our feminine multitasking features in our own benefit, aggregating, pacifying, for our personal progress.

And the deputy (representative) Janete Pietá summarized, in just one phrase, everything that now I’m looking for:

“Better than being a juggler is being the circus owner.

It’s being the CEO of ourselves.”

white mug

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You can also see:

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

Mothers in animated feature films, TV series and cartoons 3: why do we identify ourselves with them and see them as references?

This post in Portuguese: Mãe Malabarista? Não, obrigada

The World’s best play

Do you remember when you un-learned to play? And now, as a parent with children, what to do? This post is about that.

I can consider myself a lucky person because I played a lot. Not only with typical “girl things”, like dolls, role-playing house or school, but also riding a bike, playing soccer, marbles and all kind of games: hide-and-seek, tag, cops and robbers, capture-the-flag, dodgeball and so on.

When I was home, I would create “movies” with dolls. My brothers would start playing and suddenly there they were, hypnotized, watching me playing. Sometimes, the stories took days, with many “chapters”, in enchanted kingdoms, lost forests, parallel worlds or the Mushroom Family’s quotidian.

brazilian toy happy world

When I was 15, I already had a boyfriend. Although I still kept playing with dolls. I would promote Suzi (the Brazilian version of Barbie) fashion contests, those were very competitive among brothers and neighbors. Hilarious recordings with special sound effects (sea waves using the out of air TV; horse trotting on shoe boxes). Or theater plays with cousins. I meant rest for the mothers, mesmerizing all kids, for hours. People used to say: “how good she is with children!”

brazilian doll susi

When I would go to my cousin’s home, who was 1 year older than me, I’d notice she would tidy up the doll house with all furniture, but after that she wouldn’t be in the mood for playing. Later, it happened to me: I loved to organize the scenarios, the characters, but the “movies” didn’t flow anymore.

Time went by. My children were born. I have even been trying to recreate the old plays, but it was in vain. I struggled to find where and when I lost my original spontaneity and enthusiasm. Perhaps it’s because now the stories have been happening in reality: my real home, my profession, my family. I wasn’t “good with children”. Actually, I WAS a child. Now, I’ve been playing being a grown-up, and the act of fantasizing lost its fun a little.

I found out other things. If I want to play with my kids, I choose toy blocks, Lego or wood building bricks, because of my sense of organization. Or table games like domino or memory, to enjoy together and not to only guide the play.

There’s a play, however, which is invincible in my preference: hair-dresser. I divide hair locks equally among the interested kids, spread dozens of hair elastic bands, clips and ribbons, combs and hair brushes and let them invent the coiffure they want. Justice be made, this idea wasn’t mine. They love it. Me too. I deal with a pull here, a stuck ribbon there, but I keep quiet, just enjoying the pampering, sometimes I even have a nap.

It’s also useful during boring-waiting-situations, like at the airport or the doctor’s office. I become a big toy and, even without the ribbons, they spend hours combing, curling, braiding and separating the locks, entertained. I even saw children from other families wanting to play, too.

You can call me a non-imaginative, lazy person, who is misleading my innocent children. I propose a challenge, though. Just try it. Afterwards, those who don’t like those rapid little fingers massaging your head and combing your hair, cast the first hair brush! hahaha

Marusia smiling

Creation by my little hair-stylists!

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You can also see:

The Tooth Fairy

Only mothers are happy – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: A brincadeira mais gostosa do mundo