Moms are always getting the short end of the stick. They get thrown up on, judged for working, judged for not working, and are rarely thanked for spending the whole day baking 30 cookies for a classroom of kids who’ll just pick all the good bits out of them anyway.
You can’t right all these injustices at once. So photo book printer Chatbooks is taking on a fight it can win—trying to get moms to appear in family pictures. Even with the baby weight, and without the makeup.
In “This Mom Gets Real About Why We Don’t Get in Photos,” created by the Harmon Brothers (who gave us Poo-Pourri’s “Girls Don’t Poop” and Squatty Potty’s pooping unicorn), Chatbook’s recurring harried-mom character talks frankly about her resentment at having tons of Chatbooks of her family … none of which include her.
“Oh, I’m there,” she sneers. “I’m always there. But you think I wanted documentation? I was a new mom who hadn’t showered in weeks and lived in yoga pants.”
As it did in two previous long-form ads starring this character, here and here, that candid tone punctuates the rest of the ad. She talks about her photo approval policy with her husband (where the odds of everyone being happy with how they look are so slim that you might as well just delete everything in advance), how hard it is to jam all your kids into a selfie, and the perils of accidentally encountering yourself in the front-facing camera.
The solution to all this is simple: Get over taking the perfect picture, and just mark the moment. Ask someone else to take the photo if you have to. (Just be sure she doesn’t cover the lens with her finger.)
“If we keep stepping out of the photo, we can document decades of memories in as many cute Chatbooks as we want … and we won’t be in any of them!” our designated mom tells us. “It’s time to mom up. We need to get in the photo!”
Obviously Chatbooks has a vested interest in this message, but there’s a much deeper one lurking beneath the surface. In 2013, Dove released an ad that highlights how young girls enjoy the spotlight, lapping up their moments in the sun. As they age, something changes. We start hiding our faces and ducking out of pictures.
There are lots of reasons for this. Part of it has to do with the judgment girls receive about their looks, which makes them hyper-aware of their appearance—something they must balance with a fear of seeming vain. Add to this the tacit pressure on women to think of other people’s needs before their own, particularly when they become mothers.
Aptly, that Dove spot was followed by “Honest Selfies,” a 2014 effort to get girls to take imperfect photos of themselves, and drag their moms in, too.
So when Chatbooks raises a war cry for moms to #GetInThePhoto, there’s interesting precedent for it. It’s an appeal for moms to both recognize and assume their importance in a family. (Even if their hair’s a mess.)
Also, let’s be honest. Once you hit your 30s, your social feed gets to be nothing but babies. And as Chatbooks’ protagonist points out, newborns are adorable—but they all look the same.