Perhaps no area of womanhood is more heavily critiqued than motherhood. Women are constantly inundated with “free advice” about everything from how to become a parent, who to parent with, what to name their kid, whether they should work, what they should wear, what they should eat, what they should Instagram… the list goes on. This week, Dove pushed back against the idea that there’s a “right way” to be a mom in a new video for their Dove #RealMoms campaign, which features women who are mothering in their own unique ways. One of the mothers, Shea, is a graduate student and roller derby player with some sick tattoos, who is also trans.
“You get people who are like, ‘What do you mean you’re the mom?’” Shea says, laughing off the bananas offensive question with ease and grace, “We’re like, ‘Yep, we’re both gonna be moms.’”
The #RealMoms campaign promotes Baby Dove, Dove’s new skincare line for babies, and aims to undermine the “perfect mom” stereotype by highlighting different ways women can choose to parent. The video also subverts the idea that women are supposed to give up their personhood once they become mothers, sacrificing their interests and passions in order to commit all of their energy to their child (a sacrifice that is rarely expected of fathers). In addition to Shea, the video features a stay at home mom, a cattle rancher, a single mom, a mountain climber, and a breakdancer, women whose interests shape not only who they are as people, but who they are as mothers.
“I don’t think I could be the mom I want to be without climbing in my life,” one woman says, “It keeps me who I am.”
The focus on women’s passions and interests is an important step forward for Dove. #RealMoms is the latest of the company’s campaigns to promote honesty and inclusivity. In 2004, Dove launched the Real Beauty campaign to “start a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty”. They put up billboards featuring ordinary women instead of professional models, and their videos “The Evolution of Beauty” and “Real Beauty Sketches” both went viral and sparked conversations about the representation of women in media. #RealMoms, in particular, seems to represent a shift away from a purely beauty-focused strategy and towards a more comprehensive, diverse, authentic representation of women.
As for Shea, increased, authentic trans visibility is incredibly important. While there have been more representations of trans individuals in media recently, many of them have been performed by non-trans actors, like Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, Eddie Redmayne in the Danish Girl, or Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent. For true trans visibility, trans individuals need to be visible.
Shea’s inclusion in the #RealMoms campaign is an important message to both the trans community and new moms. As Shea says, “There’s no one right way to do it all.”