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Why Did the Oscars Ban This Postpartum Frida Mom Commercial?

It was rejected, with the explanation that "guns, gun shows, ammunition, feminine hygiene products" are not permitted.

A commercial for moms was deemed “too graphic” to air during the Oscars and the company is speaking out. Frida Mom, the company that makes products aimed to help mom’s postpartum recovery period, put together a commercial featuring a new mom and an after-birth struggle that doesn’t get a lot of attention. The commercial was submitted to be aired on ABC during the Oscars, but it was “rejected,” citing violations of The AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) guidelines.

The commercial starts off with a baby crying and a mom turning on the light in the middle of the night. The mom slowly gets out of bed, wearing the disposable underwear hospitals give to people to wear after birth. Mama settles her baby back to sleep and then slowly heads to the washroom. Mom uses a hospital standard peri-bottle to ease the sting that going to the washroom can have on a just-birthed and likely sore and stitched body. She refills the bottle with water before she waddles back to the toilet with the mesh underwear down at her ankles. Now, the baby is crying again, and mom is still struggling with going to the washroom. It’s an ordeal, a process that we’re not told enough about, let alone shown.

The commercial is authentic. I’ve had four children and can vouch that the whole process the mom is doing in this commercial is accurate to real life. Postpartum recovery is hard and it’s frustrating at times trying to balance taking care of your body and a baby that needs you, too. It’s a beautiful commercial, but was it right for regular TV?

According to a spokesperson for Frida Mom, the commercial was “vetted through and rejected” by the AMPAS before being “rejected.” The “rejection” reason cited was: “Advertisement of the following is not permitted: Political candidates/positions, religious or faith-based message/position, guns, gun shows, ammunition, feminine hygiene products, adult diapers, condoms or hemorrhoid remedies” during the broadcast.

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Looking at that exact phrasing, it’s hard to draw a comparison between guns and ammunition and feminine hygiene products and adult diapers; other than these are simply all topics on the list of subjects the banned by the Academy.  The commercial was deemed “too graphic with partial nudity and product demonstration,” and was not moved through the approval process to air during the Oscars.

Frida Mom boils this commercial down to being “just a new mom, home with her baby and her new body for the first time.” That’s true and there isn’t anything really wrong with the commercial. It’s not nudity for the sake of sexuality; it’s not lewd or sending a wrong message. It’s certainly not harmful like guns and ammunition can be. “And we wonder why new moms aren’t prepared for what really happens after giving birth,” a Frida Mom spokesperson asks.

If you objectively look at the commercial and think about the rigid guidelines the AMPAS has for which commercials they can and can’t play on air, there is some understanding of why this commercial was flagged. There are some shots during the washroom scene that feel really intimate and while the “partial nudity” wasn’t in a sexual way, there was some partial nudity.

There’s also, in my opinion, the possibility of losing the intended message to the general public. If the focus is to make people uncomfortable watching a woman on a toilet, the sympathy might not work. Still, it would be nice if guideline bodies like the AMPAS would take a look at the message behind the use of partial nudity or other flagged content before deciding on if something is appropriate or not, but that’s rarely the case it seems.

This commercial is strong, and I can see it resonating with Frida Mom’s target audience—people who are about to birth their second child and want the process to be more comfortable next time. I love this commercial because it is so real, and it’s rarely talked about and I think seeing intimate moments like this can really help struggling parents. I would not bat an eye if I saw something like this on TV.

But at the same time, I’m also not surprised it was flagged and rejected. This is is the world we live in. But on glitzy Hollywood night, the real world often takes a back seat.