I’ve been thinking about why the #PampersPooface campaign has disturbed me so much. If you haven’t seen it, good. Don’t bother. It is a short film of the faces of babies straining to empty their bowels. The campaign is encouraging parents to snap pics of baby’s face while they’re doing a poo and post it on Twitter. It’s fun, right? Sorry, but I don’t think so.
At first I was upset about all the favourites and retweets but then it dawned on me that it’s probably not parents doing that (as one parent tweeted, what do I want to look at that for?) but probably marketing and advertising executives thinking it’s a hoot.
Now imagine you’re a baby.
There’s something happening inside me. I don’t know what it is, but it happens most days. Sometimes it hurts. It definitely hurts my skin afterwards if my nappy isn’t changed. Usually it happens after lunch when I’m still sitting in my high chair. Mummy/daddy pull faces and when I pull those faces back at them, it feels less painful and then I get a change immediately into a clean nappy and it doesn’t burn my skin. If I’m lying down daddy or mummy pick me up and massage my tummy and that really helps stop the hurting too. Or sometimes they give me some baby massage/yoga to make a poo come that’s been waiting inside me too long.
But this time Mummy and Daddy seem to know it’s happening but they don’t pull the faces that help make the pain go away or pick me up. They start laughing. Then they go off and hold a thing in front of my face (they often do that but uusally it’s when I’m laughing.) Then they go off again and start talking and laughing at the thing. My skin is really hurting now and I’m crying louder and louder but they’re busy and don’t take any notice.
Now imagine you’re an adult who’s had a stroke. You can’t talk and you can’t walk. You’re still continent though. And you can still communicate but it takes longer for people to work out what you’re trying to tell them. You finally make your carer understand that you want to be taken to the toilet or the commode. “Don’t worry ” s/he says, “you’re wearing a nappy. It’s not change time yet.” So you have to hold and hold and hold. You don’t want to do it in your nappy and feel your skin burning until the carer’s scheduled time to change you.
How do babies feel? We’ll never know, but my view is that it’s inappropriate to laugh at a baby trying to empty her/his bowels. But perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps this is how we should behave. Get rid of taboos around it. But there’s a difference between laughing at and laughing with. Empathy, compassion, respect; they still matter don’t they?
PS Don’t worry P&G. So few people read this blog it’s not going to affect your sales.
PPS Respect to the childhood continence charity ERIC for it’s poo campaign.