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Frida’s Golden Globes ad about breastfeeding is a much-needed reality check

March 2, 2021, 2:02 PM UTC
Mother Holding Newborn's Tiny Foot
A new ad from Frida, maker of products for babies and new moms, gives a more truthful portrayal of breastfeeding.
Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! McDonald’s responds after a report on sexual harassment, more companies are disclosing diversity data, and a new ad that portrays breastfeeding is an overdue reality check. Have a terrific Tuesday.

– Innovative ad. If you watched NBC’s broadcast of the Golden Globes on Sunday, in between Amy Poehler and Tina Fey jokes and at-home acceptance speeches, you may have caught an ad from Frida, a company that sells products for babies and new moms. It featured images rarely seen on television: bare-chested new moms in trying moments of their breastfeeding journeys.

One mom massages a clogged breast duct. Another tries to get her baby to latch. A third pumps in bed, late at night. It ends with the tagline, ‘Care for your breasts, not just your baby.’

The spot is intended to sell Frida products like a lactation massager or adjustable nursing pillow, but Frida CEO Chelsea Hirschhorn says it’s also meant to spotlight “the physical and emotional feeding journey that puts unrivaled pressure on women to perform.”

“The message for these women is they shouldn’t be expected to give priority to lactation over their own physical comfort,” she told The Wall Street Journal.

In recent years, some corners of the advertising industry have tried to eliminate gendered stereotypes from their campaigns, and brands have released provocative ads that tackle prickly societal issues, like toxic masculinity, in a bid to exhibit authenticity and reach younger consumers.

But the Frida ad, even with its commercial incentive, seems to align more with a different trend; demystifying motherhood, the most glorified of human experiences. Celebrities like Serena Williams, Chrissy Teigen, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and Katy Perry have helped ignite the effort by talking openly about pregnancy complications, infertility, pregnancy loss, and the more unglamorous aspects of postpartum life. And devastating reporting on the U.S. maternal mortality crisis, which most endangers Black women, has exposed how health care systems neglect women before and after they give birth.

Motherhood, of course, is a source of immense joy, but society needs a more realistic view of what it demands so we can better support women as they enter into it. And that ongoing education got a jolt on Sunday when more truthful images of breastfeeding—cabbage compresses and all—flooded into living rooms on one of Hollywood’s glitziest nights.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Trend-setting. Many large companies are starting to disclose more details on the gender and racial makeups of their workforces, nudged along, but not required, by a new Securities and Exchange Commission regulation on "human capital resources." General Electric, Tyson Foods, and Chipotle are among the businesses who have made recent disclosures. Wall Street Journal

- Under the arches. McDonald's workers shared more stories of sexual harassment in a segment that aired on CBS This Morning on Sunday. McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski responded with a letter, writing that "every single person working under the arches must have a safe and respectful work environment." The company plans to roll out new, as-yet-unspecified "global brand standards." CNN

- Going green. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a new "digital green pass"—or vaccine passport—allowing Europeans who have been vaccinated to travel throughout the bloc more freely. The program "should facilitate Europeans’ lives," von der Leyen says. New York Times

- Allegations at Amazon. Charlotte Newman, a senior manager for Amazon Web Services, is suing Amazon for race and gender discrimination, violating the Equal Pay Act in a suit that also alleges sexual harassment and assault by an Amazon executive. Newman said in an interview that she's experienced "deep, emotional pain." Amazon didn't respond to request for comment in this story, nor did the executive, Andres Maz, whom Newman says harassed her. Re/code

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: IBM named Kathryn Guarini, COO for IBM Research, IBM's new chief information officer. Former Salesforce CMO Stephanie Buscemi will join Confluent in the same role. Business cloud company Domo hired KPMG's Vita Shannon as VP of partnerships and ecosystem and Accenture Interactive's Shelley Morrison as VP of demand center. Girls Who Code launched Girls Who Code UK, adding to the new organization's board of directors DeepMind global head of policy and partnerships Verity Harding, former NBCUniversal VP Seema Cunningham, and Girls Who Code CMO Deborah Singer. Dr. Jennifer Peña will join Nurx as chief medical officer. Unity hired former Zendesk VP of communications Paige Young in the same role. Haircare brand John Paul Mitchell Systems named Michaeline DeJoria CEO. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Day one. Jane Fraser became Citi CEO yesterday, making her the first female executive of a major U.S. bank. A day-one priority was a commitment that Citi would achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions in its financing activities by 2050. Bloomberg

- FDA approval? President Biden still hasn't named a nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, but interim FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock is in the running. Her work on cancer drugs is one piece of her legacy that will be evaluated. STAT News

- Power dynamics. Allen v. Farrow has now aired two episodes on HBO, and the show makes an argument beyond the claim of child sexual abuse, which Woody Allen has denied, at its center: that while Allen and Mia Farrow were a couple, he controlled her professional life. This piece argues that that situation was a form of workplace abuse, with Allen, as Farrow's boss, controlling her career. Vox

ON MY RADAR

The love and crimes of Emma Coronel Aispuro—El Chapo's wife MEL Magazine

'Danger warning': Women say Madison Cawthorn harassed them in college BuzzFeed

Lawyer seeks criminal investigation of T.I. and Tiny on behalf of multiple women New York Times

PARTING WORDS

"If I want to settle and do the same thing over and over, I’ll become a monster."

-Youn Yuh-jung, a legendary Korean actress and the star of the new film Minari, on why she wanted to film a movie in the U.S.