Thursday, November 11, 2010

Put your money where your mouth is

Photo credit: Danielle Moler (Flickr)
My family and I do not buy Nestle products.  This means we no longer lay a finger on Butterfinger and our kids are opting out of membership in the Gerber generation.  It's not always easy with such a huge product list to boycott, but we feel that it is a decision we must make.  Our boycott of Nestle stems primarily from being part of the lactivist community, but this is a cause that should be promoted by breastfeeding and formula feeding families, and well, everyone else with a conscience. 

      To break it down, Nestle willfully disregards WHO compliance standards on the marketing of formula, undermines breastfeeding in developing countries thus making moms dependent on formula, and then does not provide clear instructions on their packaging (i.e. having the can read in the languages of the people they are selling to).  The result is that mothers mix their powdered infant formula with dirty water and babies die.  Or moms water down the formula because they can't afford it and babies die.  Or babies lose out on precious immunity boosters from breastfeeding that could make the difference in poorer countries.  It's shameful enough that Nestle undermines breastfeeding, but it also lies about its marketing efforts.
     We're a pro-breastfeeding site.  That much is obvious, but we also, as Connected Mom Julian pointed out during the Similac scandal, believe, "If a woman chooses not to breastfeed, then she still deserves the resources to provide her child with clean, safe, and healthy food choices."  Nestle does not afford that opportunity to millions of mothers, and that is not acceptable.  So we don't buy Nestle anymore.  My husband and I carefully double check labels, reference our list, and openly promote our boycott.  We have carefully informed family and friends of why we don't consume their products.  It's not always easy (I gave up Häagen-Dazs ) but it is important, because our power as consumers lies within our wallet.
      Which is why I've added Unilever to our family boycott list.  This is making my life much more difficult, but as a woman, I can't condone the hypocritical and sexist marketing tactics they employ.  Now I understand "sex sells," but when a beer company has scantily clad women heading to the mountains with their bottles, I just think 'gosh, they are not dressed weather-appropriately.'  Sexuality in marketing, even when it borders on sexism, is not enough to turn me off.  What I disagree with is Unilever simultaneously promoting the Dove campaign, which is a nice idea, while they push products like Axe and Fair and Lovely, a skin lightening cream, and Slim Fast - talk about a mixed message!

And the men aren't exempt:

 Lynx, which is an international version of Axe, launched Lynx Lounge a voyeur-style house where women, referred to as Lynx Minx are "yours to command."

     Even better men can now take a "testerone-fueled" vacation to Lynx Lodge in Australia!  Make sure you check out all this trip has to offer.

     I'm a pro-sex feminist, but as a mother and wife, I'm insulted that companies like Unilever think that it's okay to market sex and beauty ideals while they claim to care about true beauty.  The fact is that it's all a giant marketing scheme.  Someone told them women in the U.S. want to feel empowered, so here comes Dove's campaign.  The marketing reps in India know fair skin is ideal, so here comes ads that offer a solution to that dark skin problem.  And as someone who shakes her heads at Axe commercials here (my husband feels insulted), I'm still wondering what guy buys that crass disillusionment.

      So I'm putting my money where my mouth is.  I know I'm just one person.  We are just one family, but 99 is not 100.


Post a Comment