TMF: Pampers “prince” and “princess” campaign

WTF Pampers?!

While I do adore my child, this kind of retro-grade (hopping on the royal birth bandwagon) crap is EXACTLY what is wrong with so many marketing campaigns directed at kids (and their parents). “Prince” and “Princess” are unequivocally loaded words, filled with the baggage of patriarchal assumptions and sexist gender traps.

Let me explain why:

  • Prince: This is essentially a stand-in for the gender identity and accompanying assumptions of the male identity. In our society, the intrinsic qualities of a prince include protecting docile (read; victim, vulnerable, and helpless) women. They own women, much like property. Don’t believe me? Watch just about any old Disney movie with a prince/princess. Tell me that Cinderella has agency! Tell me that she is not simply moving from one home, in which she is kept in servitude without any recourse under the law, to another home, in which she will maintain the roll of traditional “wife,” that has no agency or subjectivity. The Prince is a quintessential patriarchal archetype! Always a “he,” the prince rules the land. He has subjectivity (rather than being an object).
  • Princess: As I elude to above, the Princess is not only always a female identity — complete with the very strict gender rules for being a girl — but she is an object. Her purpose in life is to be pretty, to be owned. She is a prize to be won. She does not have ownership over land, rights of her own, or the ability to operate as a princess outside the paradigm of heterosexual marriage and convention. Reduced solely to her physical beauty, she becomes a trope for unrealistic beauty standards (see: the very real dialogues about Kate Middleton’s observed eating disordered behavior, and Princess Diana’s actual eating disorder). A princess is an object. She has no subjectivity. She is not allowed to be a chemist, ride motorcycles, get dirty, like girls, be a boy, or exhibit physical acts of strength or courage (unless you count Wonder Woman, who is the Amazonian Princess Diana).

Both of these constructs, as they play out in real life scenarios and as they play out in the fantasies of fairy tales and Disney movies, indoctrinate people into an incredibly damaging form of brain-washing about who they can be and what “girl” and “boy” mean! Stop limiting our children! And dear Lord, please stop limiting how we see our children, because that is how these things start. We only see our kid as being one way or one thing because WE come with assumptions about gender and identity. Babies are born a blank slate. They don’t know shit about gender or what “girl” and “boy” and “prince” and “princess” mean. THOSE ARE LABELS AND IDENTITIES THAT WE PUT ON THEM!

This is totally messed up, Pampers. And I have never been happier that I don’t use your products!

If you have a TMF: Tired Marketing Fail, send it my way and it could be featured in the next installment!

One comment

  1. Bravo! Well put, accurately defined and brilliantly argued. It’s disheartening that 50 years after I began my involvement with the women’s movement, the “other side” has barely budged. Still, though you’re a “tired” feminist, keep at it. A huge boulder, moved even an inch a year can eventually be driven into the sea. Keep up the good work!

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