Let’s set the scene. You’re sitting at home on your couch (let’s face it, we’ve been doing that a lot lately!) and you turn on your TV. A commercial for a pregnancy test comes on, like this one, showing a happy couple overjoyed at receiving a positive result. But that isn’t the reality for many people. Some are hoping for the exact opposite, and it can be disheartening to see such a scenario played out over and over again.
“Joy is not among the emotions I’ve experienced while taking a pregnancy test. Clammy terror, yes; stomach-cramping apprehension, yes; ecstatic anticipation, no,” as editor Claire Lampen put it in a Refinery29 article.
There is an extreme dichotomy when it comes to showing reactions to positive and negative pregnancy tests in marketing and advertising, and popular culture.
At one end, if the test is positive, there’s the jumping-for-joy, over-the-top elation—and on the other, if the test is negative, there’s depression, heartbreak and a hopefulness to keep trying. However, one study looked into feelings of ambivalence (mixed or contradictory feelings) surrounding pregnancy. Although this middle ground doesn’t encompass all reactions, it’s definitely a lot closer to reality than the two extremes.
“Women cited many reasons for their ambivalence,” the study explains, “including shock, relationship status, and availability of resources to care for children.”
Another report found that “women (who were surveyed) spend far more of their reproductive years trying to avoid pregnancy than trying to conceive.” This, coupled with the fact that many men make up the bulk of higher-up positions in advertising companies, is what results in the unrealistic portrayals we see today.
In 2013, Fast Company reported how women control 80% of consumer spending, yet only account for 3% of creative directors in the United States. A community to support women in the industry was born out of this statistic, called the 3% Movement.
“Sexism is not only asking somebody to sleep with you,” explains the group’s founder Kat Gordon. “We’re getting at the subtle things—how much your firm is celebrating women, how much you’re giving them the stage to own the floor, to being in front of key clients, to participate in pitches.”
And now that less Canadians are having children, there’s even more reason to revisit the drawing board and dismantle how society portrays products related to pregnancy and ovulation. That’s why we decided to start this series. If a positive test isn’t positive for you, then you’ve come to the right place.