Monday, March 27, 2006

Belly Ads and Sponsored Birth

This piece on Alternet tells the story of 21-year-old Asia Francis, who "sold the rights to sponsor the birth of her first child to Globat LLC, a Los Angeles-based Web hosting company" via eBay for $1,000. According to the article:
"In return, Francis agreed to wear T-shirts whenever she stepped out of her home before her delivery and to sport a temporary tattoo of the company's red-and-black logo on her swollen belly. On the morning of March 17 when Francis drove to the hospital to induce labor, her car was decorated with Globat decals and car magnets. In the delivery room the expectant mother had Globat stickers around her pillow, her well-wishers all wore company T-shirts while the walls were decked with company posters and a banner. At 2:35am the next day, her baby, named Samiah Wynn Francis, was born, weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces. The delivery itself was videotaped and selected segments will be posted for viewing on the company's Web site."
This is apparently not the only instance of such a pregnancy or birth sponsorship involving ads. For example, "From December 2005 to February 2006, three pregnant sisters from St. Petersburg, Fla., who were all giving birth within a month of each other, agreed to advertise for the company. Photographs of the sisters displayed their swollen bellies under rolled-up T-shirts, with the Web address stamped across their stomachs in bold letters."

Author Jean Kilbourne ("Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel") doesn't approve of the move, says women should refuse to be turned into billboards, and is quoted as saying (with regards to whether this would help promote varied body images for women), "Pregnant women are the only ones who have permission to be fat. I still wouldn't see that as progress. What this shows is who owns her body. She's allowing herself to be used which is demeaning in itself. But it's particularly degrading when linked to something like pregnancy."

What do you think about this? How does your opinion change when you find out that Francis is a single mother, a receptionist, is not going to be paid during maternity leave, and is not covered by her company's health insurance? How does this compare with being compensated to be a surrogate mother? Does the privacy of one and the display of the other make a difference with regards to monetary exchange for pregnancy?

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MeSH Tags: Advertising; Parturition; Pregnancy


Blogger Kat Coble said...

women should refuse to be turned into billboards


Ms. Kilbourne, I've got news for you. Women have been billboards for years. Jordache, DKNY, FUBU, Calvin Klein---need I go on?

At least there's finally some remuneration going on.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not do this? Commercials already have people showing there names on stomachs! As long as no one is hurt then I say GO FOR IT!! Birth is natural and if it helps with bills and such so be it. It's about time people decide for themselves.

12:31 PM  
Blogger mymothersdaughter said...

It's her choice and I see no harm in it at all. In fact, I'm sure that $1000 was sorely needed. I guess I'm just pro-choice all around.
That said, I personally wouldn't be into it for myself- especially the videotaped birth on the web- YIKES!
Good for her though.

1:56 AM  

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