A TV Commercial
Yesterday I saw a commercial on TV that made me smile.
It starts with a close up of little feet running through mud, and into the house. At which point we see that the little girl (4 years old? 5?) – complete with skirt and crown – is chasing a frog. Around the kitchen.
She is smiling, and determined. At the end of the ad, her parent cleans up, and the text says ‘If you’ve got a princess, you gotta Swiffer’. What I love about it is that it’s a little girl, dressed like a princess and not afraid to get dirty. She isn’t having a tea party, she isn’t playing with dolls, she is ok running through mud, getting on her hands and knees, and picking up a frog. Yes, she tries to kiss it in the end, but despite the fairy tale reference it feels like the narrative is busting some gender stereotypes.
Oh, and the little girl is Black (and her hair is natural!). And so is her dad, who cleans up the muddy floor.Which is lovely for me – as a woman of colour and a mother – to see in the media.
Are you surprised?
Did it match the picture in your mind?
Likely not. I’m guessing the parent was a mom and they were both White – even if you are not. Because that would fit the majority of images and narratives we are usually presented with in media, books, curriculum, etc. This is great if your life fits those narratives, or if you are White. And potentially devastating if you are not.
Who and what we see also shows us who and what is valued – and who isn’t- and why. And because we recognize who we are – and who we can be – by the people and images around us.
The importance of representation
I could see my little girl in that Swiffer commercial in a way that I don’t see her in most of the media around us. Which means if she saw the commercial, she would also see herself. It’s a commercial but still, it was a delight and it made me smile. After all, we all want to be seen and acknowledged, and to feel like we belong.
But the truth is, that seeing a Black child with a Black parent in a commercial was also a surprise for me.
Still, in 2017.
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