My Unfiltered Thoughts About The Motrin Hubbub

Like with most things that take place in the blogosphere, I came late to the Motringate scandal. I’m always late (if I manage to get there at all). After reading several not so nice blog posts (and Twitters) about it, I expected to see something horribly offensive. Instead? I wasn’t offended at all by this ad, not even the slightest bit offended. I actually asked someone if I had seen the wrong ad. Surely, I had missed something.


It appears that some folks were upset because they felt that Motrin was belittling the act of wearing a baby. The whole fiasco was like something Dr. Suess would write about, only without all the rhyming and butter.

I think I was more offended that Motrin took the ad down in response to the backlash. It’s my opinion (and it won’t be a popular one) that what they said about wraps and baby-wearing has truth to it. Sure, they made some generalizations, but every advertiser does that. It’s their job to annoy us that way. I guess the difference this time is that they stepped on the toes of mommybloggers. (Do not mess with mommybloggers. Sometimes they lash out at you and bring their friends along. They have been known to kick below the belt and under the bra. I actually fear some mommybloggers, to be perfectly honest.)

To further alienate myself, I think that many mothers do buy wraps to look like a certain type of mother. I honestly believe that many mothers (especially women who research the hell out of their pregnancy and their baby-rearing days) treat buying a wrap like any other adornment. I’m not suggesting that means wearing your baby is something people do without any benefits. I don’t think Motrin was suggesting that either. But I think it is trendy right now. Buying a wrap is like purchasing a car; moms want the one that most represents their personality and lifestyle, without losing the security, safety and functionality. And if you don’t think people think this way, you’re being naive. Furthermore, if what I’ve written offends you, ask yourself why. (And then count to ten before sending me any hate mail. Also read this.)

I’m sick of this apparent readiness to lash out at other mothers who don’t function under the same belief system as a majority. I grew tired of this crowd mentality back when I was still pregnant and it just keeps getting worse and worse. If it’s not about breast feeding, it’s about vaccines. If it’s not about organic vs. not organic, it’s about whether or not you turned your car seat around too early. If it’s not about soy vs. whole milk, it’s about feeding babies meat or raising them vegetarian. If it’s not about that, it’s about whether or not some advertiser was “belittling mothers” by suggesting babywearing is trendy. I don’t know what’s going to be next, but I do know with this group there’s always going to be a next.

I was given three wraps and bought two of my own more before realizing that the utilitarian Bjorn was more my style (and my baby’s as well. He was always a face-out baby, no way he would have liked the wrap). That doesn’t mean I didn’t secretly wish that I could use one of those kangaroo type slings. Wrap-wearing mothers always make me think yoga instructor, hippie, or crunchy mom and I love a little crunch to my ladies. Plus, a wrap would have done a much better job at keeping Emory warm, but he just wasn’t having it.

I think that many mothers really do think a lot about the type of wrap they’re going to wear and what it says about them. The function of it is obvious—it’s meant to carry your baby. But that doesn’t mean its form and design needs to be an afterthought. Even the companies who make (and sell) these wraps are well aware of our thought process that goes into purchasing one and our desire to look and feel a certain way.

One woman donated a wrap to me and said, “This is what all the celebrities are seen wearing in all the magazines, but I couldn’t ever figure it out.” (I never did either.)

Is wearing your baby trendy? You betcha. Is wearing your baby in something trendy a bad thing? I personally don’t think so. Is stating as much? Apparently so.


  1. You’re a brave lady Michele!
    I was slightly offended by the Motrin ad, but it doesn’t change how I feel about them. I never buy it anyway! I agree with you about the baby wraps being trendy. Baby carrying has been around for ever but I think the biggest trend is “baby wearing” which is the new “it” term, I suppose. I dunno. I’m a mom, I carried my baby in a Snuggly (face forward always, Evan hated facing in too!) and he would have NEVER liked a sling or wrap. Even as a newborn, he busted out of swaddling. I’m rambling, I know, and I’m sorry. My point is, I agree with you so you’re not alone. Every mother is different so we should not be generalized in any way!


  2. OK, so let me preface this by saying that I never “wore” my son; I dragged his diaper-clad butt in his car seat carrier or in a stroller. So maybe I just don’t get what the hub-bub is. Are we really arguing about the ways in which we transport our children from point A to point B? And whether it hurts our backs, and we need pain relievers? And whether the maker of some of these pain relievers is condescending?

    I watched the ad, and I too wondered if I had seen the wrong one, because the comments about the ad were downright acidic. I didn’t see anything offensive about it, I just saw an attempt by an advertiser to be a bit humorous and “hip.”

    Seriously, did I miss something? Not that I’m looking for more things to be upset about (really, I have plenty of things to worry about), but I definitely feel like I missed something.


  3. They are always looking for the next thing to get worked up about.

    I couldn’t wear my kid in a sling or carrier for more than five minutes because of my back and shoulder problems. Hand me some Motrin!


  4. I was offended that the ad was taken down too.

    I’ve been thinking of this fiasco like this:

    – Motrin agency has idea to market to moms, likely inspired by recent wives and moms at the ad agency
    – People see the ad. A lot identify. A lot don’t.
    – The people who do identify are the ones with the loudest voice.
    – Campaign is scrapped to shut them up, because the only press they’re getting is bad stuff.

    I’m a man. I tried a baby sling once. It hurt my back and shoulders.


  5. I am not a mother, but I read so much about mothers online being so tempermental about methods of child-rearing, and I am wondering if this is something unique to this generation of mothers, because of the media influence, or is it the same in every generation. My mother was definitely of the Dr. Spock generation, and didn’t breast-feed, but I was talking to her about this issue today, and she doesn’t seem to remember as much conflict over these issue. Maybe there just wasn’t social media at the time, so there wasn’t as much discussion. I think also, twenty-five to thirty years ago, parenting wasn’t elevated to the status of profession as it is today, where parents feel that they have failed if their child hasn’t advanced quickly enough. Or is it that there are so many more options nowadays, and so much discussion, that different camps of parenting have arisen?


  6. I do not disagree that what they said about wraps and baby-wearing has truth to it, but I I can see how some mothers might be upset about the tone they used to say it. There are many women who take attachment parenting very seriously, and I can totally see how the voice used in this ad does not at all respect that seriousness. That’s Motrin’s prerogative, sure, although it makes them look like they have no idea what they’re talking about. Most women I know who wear their children, myself included, never once thought about it as a fashion statement and are frankly dumbfounded that it would be reduced to something as frivolous as that. ESPECIALLY TO SELL PRODUCT.

    It doesn’t help that the woman whose voice is used in the ad sounds as if she’s never touched a baby in her life let alone worn one on her body.

    It would have been a much more relatable ad had the tone been different. Yes, carrying your baby can be hard and painful, that’s a recurring theme in motherhood. But treating mothers (WOMEN) as if we’re first and foremost concerned about appearances, and like, OMG! will this sling, like, match the diaper bag that I, like, totally bought because it makes me look, like, official or something?

    Yeah, I’m offended that they think it would work to market to me like I’m a character on Gossip Girl.


  7. You know I’m not a mom, and maybe that’s why I wasn’t offended by the ad. Yeah, they were being flippant about baby wearing, but who cares. Ads are flippant about all sorts of life styles all the time. It seems like these moms were taking themselves way too seriously. It’s just an ad about your back hurting from carrying your baby. I don’t see how there is any way that you can carry a baby for long periods of time without it hurting something.

    As a 26 year old thinking about having children in the next few years, I have totally thought about how cute I would look carrying my baby in a sling. I live in Austin, home of the hippie mom! Of course it’s about caring for your child, but helping your image doesn’t hurt :).

    I can see why people would be upset. Perhaps Motrin took it a bit too far. And, perhaps some moms took it a bit too seriously…it is just an ad after all.


  8. To me it was the tone of the ad that turned me off. I wasn’t letter-writing mad, but if a product talks down to me (“OMG I’m an official mom because I buy into fads!”) then I am less likely to buy their product. If they had worked it into “I’m a mom: my back hurts from wearing the baby, my head hurts from the lack of sleep, and my feet hurt because someone ran over them with a bike. Get me some damn Motrin” I would have identified with the speaker, but singling out one parenting practice as ‘trendy’ and painful was a bit too pointed. Like I said, I wasn’t mad, but it didn’t seem like a very effective way to market to women (kind of like the raining shoes car commercial – it just seems over stereotyped. We are intelligent consumers, not mass-driven buying machines.)


  9. I have worn my daughter since she was 2 weeks old in a warp that I admittedly bought cause I thought it looked really cool. It is the kind that is basically just 4 meters of fabric that you wrap intricately around your body and stick your baby in, I guess its called a ” panda wrap”. Anyways, we bought it because we don’t own a car and we take the bus a lot, and strollers just don’t work on buses most of the time. She is almost 11 months old now and I am still carrying her, I cannot see that she would have been a different baby if I didn’t carry her. I mean honestly if 4 meters of fabric could make your baby cry less everyone would have one. She sometimes even cries cause she wants out of the thing. I didn’t find the message offensive, but I know some moms who would go to war over that. I think it is the casualness they take with it. Making it seem a lot less important than a lot of people consider it to be. It almost makes you sound a little superficial if you do carry your baby, using phrases like “supposedly its a real bonding experience” and ” makes me LOOK like an official mom”. Anyways all I know is after a few hours of carrying my 20 pound baby girl around on my front I am in need of some meds, so as much as Motrin might piss baby wearers off, they do submit a valid point.


  10. All valid reasons for being annoyed. I can’t argue that with anyone. Perhaps had i read rational reasons behind being annoyed by the ad, I’d have a different tune right now.

    One more thing, I thank all of you for keeping this a discussion rather than a shouting match.


  11. I don’t understand the so-called controversy. Then again, I never saw the ad, nor did I ever wear my kids. I attempted to, and they were too independent. They hated being carried. They always preferred to be pushed or carried by their dad, :)

    But man, I agree that they ad shouldn’t have been pulled. To me, that’s like the managers at Walmart who cave once a customer starts to bitch loud enough, instead of just kicking them out of the store.

    And calling for a boycott on the products. Oye! That was just insane, IMO. That’s not hurting the ones who made the ads. That’s hurting those that work for barely minimum wage, trying to make a living. They have no say-so in what ads are or are not used.


  12. some midwest chick November 18, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    i think it all comes down to tone. the tone was just wrong for the brand. if the tonality was more tongue-in-cheek, it may have been more acceptable. it came across as an accepted reality.

    however, it may have NOTHING to do with the tone. when i think of the mortin brand (prior to this latest fiasco) i think of a more serious brand image. what made the brand marketing team think they could take the leap, and present something like this? it seems off brand character. but what do i know? i don’t work on the biz. maybe they were heading down this less serious path with previous executions that i did not see.

    i will say that the notion of “wearing” your baby is really funny. it’s completely ridiculous, and makes me laugh out loud.


  13. First of all, I agree with you.

    Second of all, white people get mad about the strangest things.

    Third of all, there, I’ve just deflected all of your hate mail on to me.


  14. Danielle, you should totally start “Stuff White People Don’t Like”


  15. I wasn’t offended by the ad, but I did think it was kind of dumb. I just thought that if babywearing was hurting someone that badly, they really ought to try a different kind of carrier or switch to a stroller.

    I didn’t use a stroller at all for the first three or four months of my baby’s life. I liked having her snuggled close, and she really did seem to cry less. Putting her in the pouch nearly always calmed her down. When she started getting to heavy for the one-shouldered carrier, I switched to something that distributed her weight better. When she got too heavy to be in that for more than a mile or two, I got a stroller for our walks. I still put her on my back in the carrier, but when it hurts, I take her off, rather than continuing to do something that’s obviously not right for my body and using medication to deal with it.

    That said, all my carriers were picked for their appearance as well as their functionality. If I’m going to spend so much time with something, it might as well be pretty.


  16. I wasn’t offended enough to stop using the product. I love Motrin and it’s sometimes the only thing that works for me. Like many of your other commentors, it was certainly the tone of the ad that caused my jaw to drop.

    I birthed a total fuss bucket complete with GERD and I was on the verge of a total breakdown until a friend of mine introduced me to the Moby wrap. It completely changed my life. I actually started to enjoy my kid and being a Mom. Listening to her scream every time she was put down – including in a stroller or car seat – was driving me crazy.

    I never once thought of my use of the Moby as a trend. I didn’t even care what color it was and most of the time it totally doesn’t match my clothes (should I start caring about this?). All that mattered to me was that it made my baby happy, and in turn, made me happy.


  17. Stuff White People DON’T Like:

    1. Advertisements
    2. Fun
    3. Finding constructive uses for their time
    4. That one time that guy didn’t hold the elevator
    door open for them
    5. When you tell them their kid looks like a MadBall
    6. Butterscotch pudding

    No need for a website; I think that pretty much covers it.


  18. I want Danielle to come live with me.


  19. They don’t sell motrin here so I never saw the ad until I came across your twitter comment. You weren’t the only one coming in late to this.

    I think if I’d seen the ad on t.v. my response would have been the same: huh? Then went about my daily concerns of what is being stuck into the mouth now!?

    I wore Ryan for the first few months and only stopped when he was too heavy to wear on the front and too wiggly to put him on my back properly. I did a lot of research on wraps and what would last longest and was easy to wash and wouldn’t stretch with my chubby, non-stop eating kid. I loved wearing him close to me and it meant I didn’t have to use a stroller. It also meant I could breastfeed out in public without it becoming a show for every passerby.

    So, I can see how the ad can be taken as offensive. It just didn’t seem to be well thought out. But, a lot of ads aren’t well thought out and just as offensive to some people. Their protests would go over better for me if they were aimed at a certain company who think the right sanitary product will make us have a happy period.

    All I can say is give Motrin a break. Be happy you have access to a brand product that doesn’t destroy your liver with extended usage.


  20. I kind of feel like I’m writing a letter to Penthouse, since I’ve never commented here before… but…

    If you guys think this is bad, you should get a load of the mothers here in Germany. They will tear each other apart on topics such as when to introduce solid food to a baby. I think an ad like this would’ve driven some mothers here to get out their pitchforks and torches…

    Slings are seen as more of a hippy thing here,not a fashion trend. We bought one for our impending arrival, mainly because it seems easier than lugging a stroller everywhere. But I don’t think the ad is offensive; I mean, after 8 years of what’s been going on in the U.S., how in the hell can people get so worked up over a Motrin ad?


  21. What Motrin failed to consider was the attachment parenting crowd is just an extension of the almost militant La Leche crowd (an yeah as someone who was confronted in public by complete strangers for not breastfeeding my child I get to say that).

    These groups view their pain as a badge of honor and Motrin dared to suggest that they could eliminate it with something as easy as a pill. How dare they not honor the pain.

    I think put it best when she said that if Dooce had written the same thing as a post they would have all loved it and laughed along and how Dooce’s sling caused her back pain and yeah Motrin for helping her out. The only thing Motrin is really guilty of was trying to sit a the cool kids table without getting invited.


  22. Loved the blog post! Especially since it actually clarified to us Brit what the whole Motrin hooplah was.

    Firstly, I think that you should wear your baby in such a way that is as comfortable to both you and him/her as possible.

    Secondly, I totally agree regarding celebrity madness – and am rather worried about the whole – oooh JLO wears a baby wrap, so I should too! Disgusting.

    Thirdly, just to let you know, the guys in my office were all talking about how often you should change a diaper. One said everytime they go, another said everytime they poop and the third says once a day. I mean, its like a ‘panty’ liner right? Should be changed at least once every 8 hours?

    This is, of course, all in the face of the credit crunch…


  23. I am really into baby wearing for three main reasons: first- my son was born in December and I didn’t (originally) have a infant car seat. Keeping him close= keeping him warm. Second, my son is a total barnacle and from his first 24hrs on, liked to be attached to my person. He went through a phase of screaming in the stroller because he couldn’t see me. Third, I hate dragging strollers around and a lot of places (living in the city I know you know better than I) are not stroller accessible.

    Like cars (good comparison) baby wearing well is about money.

    I have 5 wraps/carriers and I don’t like any of them all that well. One is the body wrap that goes around you like a long ribbon. One, it isn’t practical to put 50 feet of spandex-ish material on and off my person in public. Two, my son is always cocked to one side. It is nice for winter walks for the warmth factor.

    The Bjorn was great when he was tiny because it had wonderful head support and when he became a front facing fan, it did that too. But he got too heavy and I couldn’t wear it.

    I tried a hip sling= horrible. It was part of a vacation buy when we had nothing to put the kid in and our arms were aching.

    Then we were given an ancient backpack carrier- nice until he got too heavy and I bought a modernized version, cheap in a consignment shop. I can’t stand to wear it too long.

    I lust after an ERGO since moms swear up and down they don’t cause back or shoulder pain. But do I have $105 to spend on one?! Laughable.

    Thus, on a weak day- I’m pushing around a stroller and other days, I’m having my husband massage my shoulders after hauling the child about on my back.


  24. That ad is retarded. That being said, if anyone is looking for a better carrier, go with the Ergo carrier. It is totally and completely pain-free. I have a 21 pound 7 month old and my back never hurts. I know that’s not what you were going for here, but thought I’d share. :)


  25. @Danielle

    I am white, and I like butterscotch pudding.


  26. I’m butterscotch and I like white pudding.


  27. I couldn’t agree with you more. I am a mom of 2, i have worn my babies with the best of them, in plain bjorn style and a gorgeous funky print in a peanut shell sling. Functionality came first but if i could do it fashionably as well, heck yeah. This ad was in no way offensive. it was funny. I saw some other print ads from this campaign and I was lol. I think part of the problem is that people are seeing this one ad in a vacuum. It speaks the truth about what is really going on in some of our heads, and if it’s not going on in yours, you shouldn’t be able to speak for me. And i wish motrin hadn’t given into these militant moms, b/c now i hear they have to go through all their ad campaigns and pull anything that has any type of humor in it. isn’t that so sad? So thanks to you moms for all the uproar, can’t wait to live in a world devoid of humor in order to spare offending you. I would hate to see your reaction when something actually significant happens to you. My last beef is with these moms pushing to boycott motrin. oh yeah, that’s a swell idea, to make one of the best products for reducing an infant or child’s high fever disappear. yeah, that makes total sense. Really, ladies, can’t you find better things to do with your time?


  28. I freakin HATE butterscotch pudding. And yeah, I’m whitey-white. OTOH my brother – or anyway the kid I THOUGHT was my brother – he LOVES butterscotch pudding. Leading me to feel confused about his provenance. Certain Thanksgiving-table conversations are warranted. Boy, am I glad I read these comments!

    Oh, and my wife could have WRITTEN that commercial. Between weeks 6 and 13 our kid would not sleep unless he was being held or carried. And when he did not sleep, he SCREAMED. And we were living in a studio apartment. We ended up with about 4 different carriers; none are pain-free. After a full day of sidewalk-pounding with even the best models she was ready to shotgun Motrin.

    The ad certainly tries embarrassingly hard to be cute, or clever, or whatever it’s trying to be; it makes me want to send it an honorary trucker hat and send it on its way. But I am so over the Mommy gestapo. If this is the biggest bee in your bonnet then your life is indeed unbelievably charmed.


  29. I’m not really a fan of any flavor of pudding…. but put some coolwhip on it and I’m all over it.

    People find the lamest things to complain about. Canon and Nikon bigots are my favorite. I’m in the Nikon camp, btw…

    I want to know the pregnant man’s take on baby wraps and Motrin.


  30. I was going to make this a new post, but I get the feeling people will see me as beating a dead horse, but I simply have to put it out there somewhere, and hope that someone sees it.

    This morning I received an email from a mother who is also a member of a local mother’s Yahoo Group. She wanted to let everyone know about a wrap that changed her life. I clicked the link and this is the first paragraph on their Web site:

    The Walk With Me® is a sophisticated and stylish way for urban parents to keep their baby warm while their child is in a Baby Bjorn® or other brand front-worn carrier.

    The language is clearly directed to a certain type of mother and it definitely speaks to style and therefore trend.

    Perhaps it’s where I live and who I am in contact with each and every day, but mothers around here definitely purchase certain items because of how hip they are. I do not feel I’m being cynical, nor do I think it’s wrong that people do this, and I’m not suggesting that every single mother does this, but it’s very prevalent here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I imagine that it’s even more prevalent in Park Slope.

    This blurb was taken from the Kangaroo Korner Web site:

    “Once I became accustomed to actually carrying my child on my body in the frontpack and later, the backpack, it began to look really strange to me to see tiny babies in carriages. It seems very artificial and bizarre to wheel around at arm’s length a fifteen pound bundle of baby human who longs to snuggle in close to your body warmth.”

    Again, the language here suggests to a mother who many NOT be able to carry her baby (or may not want to) that she is “artificial and bizarre”. This tone is seen all over the Internet when it comes to mommybloggers. This is precisely the type of crap I am sick of hearing and/or reading.

    Also, perhaps the post above isn’t all that unfiltered. My husband called me a fibber regarding its title because i most definitely worried about my every word. I do not like upsetting people, but I was actually upset/annoyed by many of the responses to the Motrin ad. I was also a little embarrassed for the mommyblogging community who (as a collective whole) came off as divas not to be taken seriously.


  31. I’ve held back commenting on this because it all seems really quite pointless to me, the whole hubbub is pointless. All this commentary gives advertisers so much more power than they deserve. It is just an ad and as ad goes, it is by far not the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen.

    Advertising for any product is going to be based on fears, desires, stereotypes, idealized visions of the person who will buy the product – that is what advertising is. It is just advertising to sell something, it isn’t a serious social commentary on women or mothers. Advertising is no different from every other aspect of life and our culture – some of it is funny, scary, offensive, sexy, ridiculous, etc. But it isn’t worth so much hubbub.

    Let’s all talk about something with some real meaning. My 80+ year old Grandmother called me yesterday and was talking about how nervous she is about the economy and how she doesn’t understand how it got so bad so fast. Then she said to me, “you have citrus trees, at least you won’t go hungry. I don’t have a house anymore, I don’t know what I’d do.” (She lives in a retirement community apartment.)

    30+ comments about a Motrin ad and depression-era old folks all over this country are worried about people going hungry.


  32. Trendy baby product choices are being made right and left here in Phoenix as well. Since I became a mother, I sometimes feel as if I’m back in junior high. Oh well, what are you going to do?

    I’m glad to hear from Michele and a few others out there that my baby isn’t the only one who hates to face in when carried. My 10 week old repeatedly rejected both the moby wrap and the baby bjorn until this week, when I tried him in front facing positions.


  33. I like my carrier – we don’t own a car and walk/bus everywhere, so for us it’s practical for now. Did I choose the colour that would go with my wardrobe… maybe. :)

    I think it was the irritating tone of the voiceover that grated on me… like dooce said, it made it seem like the closest thing to a baby they’ve seen is a my little pony.

    My shoulder hurts now… trying to one hand type with a snoozing baby on my lap. Do they make a carrier for this??


  34. @ M. Chaves: point taken (and made elsewhere here too), but this isn’t an econ blog, or even a current affairs blog, or a blog about what we should most be concerned and/or talking about. It’s a blog about whatever random thing comes out of Michele’s head. Some of us choose to react to that, others don’t. There are lots of blogs out there and I know for a fact any number of them address current affairs and economics—really, I swear it. I’m sure you’ll find folks more than willing to comment there. It’s kind of nonsensical to chastise this blog and its readership for not being something it/they’re not claiming to be.

    @ Lana: no carrier, but they do make a pill. It’s called Motrin.


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