Friday, February 11, 2005

Small victories over corporate giant

You may or may not have heard that Target was selling a maternity t-shirt with the slogan "An epidural is in my near future." It was being marketed like a Chinese fortune cookie saying and came in a little Chinese food takeout box. I was appalled when I found out about it (on Feb. 9) and immediately wrote a letter to Target expressing my outrage over the irresponsibility of promoting such a shirt.
Here's a copy of my letter:

To whom it may concern:

I was appalled to discover that Target is selling maternity shirts with the message "An epidural is in my near future."

What kind of message does this send?? It perpetuates the myth that childbirth is this awful experience that should be feared and is only manageable by being drugged. It certainly doesn't empower women to learn about natural birthing options.

For a company that believes in community involvement, I think it's irresponsible to sell a shirt with a message that does not promote self- education. There are many risks involved with getting an epidural (for both the mother and the baby) and many women (if properly educated) could give birth naturally, med-free the way we were intended.

I hope that you will consider removing this shirt from your inventory and instead consider selling shirts to women with a positive, empowering message.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Amy (last name deleted)

Today I got a response back from them...

Dear Amy (last name deleted),

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about the epidural maternity t-shirt sold on www.target.com.

This t-shirt is no longer available on our Web site at www.target.com. This product was sold briefly on Target.com in our Red Hot Shop. All products on the Red Hot Shop are only available for a limited time or while quantities last.

We apologize for any offense or disappointment this t-shirt may have caused and will make your comments available to our Web site buyers and executives.

Thanks for shopping with us. I hope you'll visit us again soon at Target.

Sincerely,

Maylan
Target Guest Relations
www.target.com

A friend also received an e-mail back but her's said the shirts have been removed from the stores as well as the Target Web site. Yay!!

I was so glad to hear that they've gotten rid of the shirts and so quickly too. It's frustrating to me that the epidural rate is so high in this country (80% last I heard) and most women think nothing of having one. They don't weigh the risks or seek out alternative means to deal with the pain/discomfort. I'm certainly not saying that epidurals don't have their place or that nobody should have one, but I think one should educate one's self before taking on the risks that are involved in receiving one and not get it just because that's what "everybody" does.

Anyway, kudos to Target for listening to the women who voiced their opinion. And kudos to all of the women who took a stand on this. It might seem like small potatoes to some, but if women can unite on an issue such as this and make a difference, they can use their power to bring about change elsewhere too.

26 Comments:

At 2/15/2005 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you didnt choose to have an epidural and other women do? Do you honestly think that a stupid shirt is going to ultimately change a womans mind on her choice of how to have her baby? Its HER choice just like its your choice to not like the shirt and not want to buy it.

A little overdramatic!

 
At 2/15/2005 11:12 AM, Blogger amygeekgrl said...

I agree with you that it's every woman's choice. What I don't agree with is selling a shirt advocating drug use without any education on what the risks are for the mother and baby. It seems irresponsible to me.

I believe it's every woman's responsibility (to herself and her unborn baby who has no choice in the matter) to know the risks before she decides to get an epidural.

I have no idea if a "stupid shirt" will change a woman's mind on how to have her baby, but I think the more a woman sees something as acceptible, the more likely she is to do it. For the most part, TV shows and movies depict childbirth as something horrible and painful that can only be endured by medicating one's self (and consequently, one's baby). Why can't they show women choosing to birth without drugs? I think if there were as many images on TV, etc. showing that calm, peaceful, natural childbirth is possible, then women would be more likely to know that an epidural is not their only option, thus allowing them to make an educated choice.

If Target is going to market shirts to the women who chose to have epidurals, why don't they market other shirts to the women who don't? Then I could choose to buy a shirt that advocates my choice, just as a woman who gets an epidural can advocate her choice.

--amygeekgrl

 
At 2/15/2005 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have a little too much time on your hands.

The bottom line is freedom of choice. You can choose your path and deal with the consequences. Just like you can choose to ignore my t-shirt.

What the heck is a crunchy momma anyhow?

 
At 2/15/2005 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...but I think the more a woman sees something as acceptible, the more likely she is to do it"...
Since when is a Target t-shirt a stamp of approval? I certainly won't make any important decisions in my life based on a slogan from a Target t-shirt...

Maybe you should market an anti-epidural and see how well that sells. Maybe Target will jump on board...

yea, what is a crunch momma?

 
At 2/15/2005 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The t-shirt was meant as a joke! You know...there are such things in life. What are you going to do...write to every company that prints shirts you don't agree with? I agree with one of the other people who posted a comment...you have way too much time on your hands.

 
At 2/15/2005 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me, the point she is making is not that Target is single-handedly subverting the entire pregnant population towards a life of epidurals. The point is that little things add up. If Target makes a shirt and it sells, then Wal-Mart makes a handbag, and 7-11 puts it on their Icee cups, they all add up.

It is not a single shirt that corrupts the world, it is a repeated message. It takes a bit more critical thinking than just flying off the handle and saying she is a whacko.

 
At 2/15/2005 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or maybe she is just saying, don't encourage drug use if it could be harmful.

They aren't selling shirts talking about getting high, but they sell shirts that say to take a drug that could be harmful to you AND your unborn child.

 
At 2/15/2005 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because companies and people manufacture and purchase items like these, doesn't mean they are not educated about the negative effects of drug they are promoting. Just because the majority of people get epidurals doesn't mean they don't know the dangers of them when going into labor. They chose to go through labor comfortably and actually enjoy it.

 
At 2/15/2005 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where you can get one of the shirts? It would be the perfect shower gift for a girlfriend of mine...

 
At 2/15/2005 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well it sounds like you are just taking this personally. This isn't an attack on women who get epidurals, it is an attack on a company being socially irresponsible by advocating drug use in a flippant manner.

And you are just being tacky. If you are trying to push buttons then you really have no reason to be here other than to be snotty. Go sit in your naughty corner.

Geez.

 
At 2/15/2005 7:47 PM, Blogger amygeekgrl said...

"What the heck is a crunchy momma anyhow?"

Being crunchy is like being a neo-hippie (but without all the dreadlocks and smoking pot crap). It's someone with a non-conformist state of mind who cares about the world rather than tries to ruin it.
Being crunchy refers to granola, i.e. being earthy, etc.

Have to go now, but I'll try to respond to other posts later.

 
At 2/15/2005 7:50 PM, Blogger myrmom said...

I have to say that I completely agree with Amy. I think advertising the use of drugs while in labour is irresponsible. We should be advocating the safest route for both mama and baby. I am not saying that having an epidural is wrong but woman have to realize that there are risks that go with it. To many women think that it is perfectly safe and that it's the only way to go and that fact annoys and saddens me. I myself did end up having and epi after 24 hours of labour. it was by no means my desire and I truly had to weigh the risks. I was exhausted beyond belief and I couldn't take the pain any longer. I so desperatly wanted to do it without the drugs but my labour went on longer then I could handle, and I knew if I didn't get some sleep I would never have the energy to push my son out. That being said I had to weigh the risks of taking it and both my son and myself suffered from it. Ewan was unable to latch in the beginning because he was so sleepy(one of the side affects) and this caused problems with bfing...thankfully we got over that. AS for me I have have a hip that is out of wack cuz when I was pushing my legs were still a bit numb and I didn't realize that my leg was being held in away that knocked it out of place. Luckily it is slowly going back with exercise and chiropractic treatment. Yes it is every womans decision but no woman/ mother should be non-chalant about this decision and it should definatly not be a joke.

 
At 2/15/2005 10:27 PM, Anonymous vitalspark said...

Thank goodness for mrymom! Finally a woman with some sense! Sorry but really, as one person said someone on here is way tooooo sensitive. "Sensitive Anonymous" have you ever had a child? Have you ever had to educate yourself on the matter? Ever had to think about another persons well being over your own? Ok, I will stop w/ the personal attacks but sheesh! I think you are wayyyy out of control on the attacks to amygeekgrl. She has her own op's and you have yours. Go home now.

As for epid's and the media...amygeekgrl said "but I think the more a woman sees something as acceptible, the more likely she is to do it" and this is true. There are many cultures outside of the US that birth naturally and safely and they don't have the neg outlook on birth that we do (there are lots of books on the subject). Amygeekgrl's right in that we as women are bombarded w/ neg info on birth and we are seen as women w/ defects. We can't possibly birth our children w/o meds!! Ugh! It's totally untrue.

We are a selfish society that seems only to think of ourselves and not others and it's totally spilling over to the birth of our children. Epid's are technically "narcotics" and women are extremely liberal in signing up for them. I think it's so ridiculous to say that women that self edu on the subject and know the risks are perfectly ok receiving epid's. How can you say that it's ok in a perfectly normal birth? I think that there are places for epid's (such as mrymom's) but women that are just convinced it will be too painful for *them*, want epid's starting at the time of conception, etc are so into themselves it's ridiculous. Mrymom is right that this is no laughing matter and it's definately no joke.

For all of those women that wrote in to Target...good for you! Someone has to speak for the little children w/o voices and someone has to take a stand. It might not seem like a big deal to ppl that don't care abt the effects of a narcotic on an adult human being or a newborn but there are those of us that do. Children can't tell us what type of environment they want to be born into or what drugs they want given before they even take their first breath. I feel bad for those children whose moms have bought into the media, CP's (who stand to make a buck), etc that tell them that they aren't strong enough to *endure* a natural, healthy birth. God, the Universe, whatever bless those mamas that are thinking, feeling women that are trying to make the healthiest, safest choices for their little children.

As for Target, I'm glad that they got rid of the shirts. I would have been perfectly happy though if they would have placed some "natural birth in my near future", "VBAC" or "homebirth" shirts right next to them for ME to wear. Oh, but then again, if I wear a natural birth shirt I will have all of those "other" moms telling me I will be screaming for an epid 10 min into it just like they did....maybe that's when I can tell them I already had my son w/ out an epid and I *know* I can do what I set my *heart* out to do.

 
At 2/15/2005 10:53 PM, Anonymous slighty watered down oatmeal papa said...

Part of being a "neo-hippie" is questioning everything. Questioning authority, media, commercialism, the very concept of "normal" and society is a healthy, educational, and liberating exercise. I would argue that it is vital to sustaining a healthy and vibrant society. Thank goodness for the first amendment. Thank goodness for those of you who "have too much time on your hands" to question everything. Thank goodness for those of you who simply take the time to BLOG and voice your opinions. Part of questioning everything is to challenge yourself and the world around you. Amy seems to be living her ideals. She is taking an active role in shaping the world around her. She is doing this so she and her family aren't swept away in the tide of propaganda that we are bathed in on a daily basis. For those of you BLOGGERS who seem to be defensive and hostile- My question is: why? Did this "crunchy momma" strike a chord that resonated with you? Good. Now, ask yourself why. Do you know exactly what Epid's are made out of? Do you know the possible as well as reported side effects? Have you ever examined an issue from as many angles as you possibly could before you made the decision? (in this case epids.) If you educated yourselves about the side effects, why did you choose the chemical aide with reprocusions instead of the non-invasive approach? Nobody is saying that you do not love your children. Nobody is attacking you, your lifestyle, or the decisions that you have made. Some of us are simply wondering why? We are questioning. We want to know your story and yes we are challenging you. That's what we- "neo-hippies" do. We challenge ourselves and the world around us. We refuse to have MEDIA
Making
Everyone's
Decisions
Ideas
Actions

 
At 2/16/2005 7:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that maybe amygeekgrl and her “supporters” wouldn’t feel like they were being attacked if she didn’t demean the rest of us. I think she is doing what she feels is right for her baby and family, but the way she states things on her website is very hard to take if you’re what amygeekgrl refers to as a “normal” mother.

Just because I don’t read every baby magazine/book on family and food, doesn’t mean I don’t care about my kids or want the best for them. Just because I don’t use cloth diapers, doesn’t mean that I don’t use care in diapering my child, just because I don’t puree all of my baby’s foods, doesn’t mean I don’t care what vitamins and minerals my child eats, just because I had two epidurals, doesn’t mean I wanted to harm my kids with side effects and just because I didn’t breastfeed either of my kids, doesn’t mean that I neglected their need for bonding with their mother. But after reading this website day after day, I feel like I am not being a good parent in any respect.

Well, I have decided to stop reading this website, because I am a great mom with my own beliefs and values and just because I don’t read and question everything that I do with my kids, doesn’t mean I don’t want the very best for them. I don’t like the way I feel when I read this website. I originally wanted to just see the baby and watch her grow, but all of these opinions and beliefs started to come out and I just didn’t want to read any of it. I don’t need her or anyone else for that matter, pushing views that I honestly don’t believe in and don’t apply to my life and choices for raising my family. I think I will just stick to viewing pictures of the baby, because she is the reason I started looking at the website.

 
At 2/16/2005 9:28 AM, Anonymous vital spark said...

And I assume that this is one of the reasons that amygeekgrl posted what *she* did. Target and the majority of media don't voice *our* op's only the mainstream voice. You are completely right in that you get to choose what's best for your child and however you do that is fine. However, I am still tired of the media speaking only one side and it's not the alternative side of things. Sorry if this website offends you...maybe it's just like the shirts offend the rest of us. You have spoken your peace in re: to it just as we did to Target. I enjoy this website and am glad that amygeekgrl has it for those of us that *do* share the same viewpoints. Thanks and keep on reading your books amygeekgrl!

 
At 2/16/2005 10:22 AM, Blogger amygeekgrl said...

I just wanted to state for the record that my reason for writing this post in the first place was because I disagreed with the shirts Target was selling, NOT because I disagree with epidurals.

I do believe that everyone has the right to raise their children the way they best see fit. I also believe that I have the right to talk about my beliefs for raising my child and share them with whomever wants to read them.

Thank you,
amygeekgrl

 
At 2/17/2005 6:32 AM, Anonymous wheezer said...

i just want to make a comment to "slighty watered down oatmeal papa". until you know what it's like to squeeze something the size of a watermelon out of a size of a melon...you should keep your opinions about "epids" to yourself.

 
At 2/17/2005 12:17 PM, Blogger Camille said...

Amy - I think it's great that they replied to you!!! :)

 
At 2/18/2005 6:45 AM, Blogger Tanya said...

That's awesome you are taking a stand on something that is important to you Amy :) I think the shirt was in bad taste.

I ran across a shirt the opposite, if any one is interested. It says a natural birth is in my near future, w/ a fortune cookie next to the print. You can find it here http://216.105.53.31/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=35

 
At 2/18/2005 2:41 PM, Blogger amygeekgrl said...

very cool. thanks for posting that, tanya. :)

 
At 2/20/2005 4:39 PM, Anonymous VitalSpark said...

My dh the "watered down oatmeal papa" will most likely respond to this once he reads this himself but I wanted to respond to wheezer myself since he's my husband.

Rest assured that my dh watched me push a watermelon out the size of ...well smaller than what you refered to as a "melon". I am 5'4", 105 lbs and my son was 8 lbs 13oz...first baby. I didn't have an epidural or any other medication. It was MY wish from the beginning and he was totally supportive of it. Never once did he think that I couldn't do it, never once did he undermine me and at every turn during pregnancy and birth he was boosting me while other ppl tried to convince me I would need an epid.

I don't know why there are so many women that think that "all" men have no idea what it's like to birth or BF. No they didn't push the child out themselves, no they don't know what it feels like to overcome sore nipples from the first 2 weeks of BF but there *are* some husbands that have an amazing sense of empathy. My husband got me the Lanolin every time I needed it for my breasts and constantly asked if he could help any other way. My husband watched the entire birth experience and planned on delivering the baby at the hospital with our midwife (he's an EMT so he's seen pain believe me) but he knew that I needed his encouragement and tenderness instead so he stayed up by my face instead of where he could deliver our son. I'm sorry if you don't think your husband (or anyone elses) can relate to you or your feelings but again, rest assured, mine relates to me. He has never belittled, demeaned or under emphasized the great feat it is to birth another human being...he is just extremely proud of his wife for doing it the way she planned...unmedicated and thinks *even* more of me now after watching me do it.

I will agree that there are a lot of men out there that don't "get it" but you have no right to assume that ALL men don't get it. There are some that do and I am extremely fortunate that mine is one of them. I can think of a ton of things to say that are just as rude as your comment but I will save the rest of this board the negativity.

 
At 2/20/2005 7:05 PM, Anonymous slightly watered down oatmeal papa said...

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH the wonderful internet! I just love a place where people can come together and.....not answer any questions posed to them by someone who honesly wants to know. I don't ask rhetorical questions. I expect to be challenged in return. I like to think and be challenged and yes, even learn from other people and thier experiences- so, please don't be offended by the words I type. Imagine them being typed by your grandma/pa and respond as if I were a friend- I don't like to make enemies. American society is sooooo concerned with having and defending "correctness" and adhereing to bastians of dogmas that dissipate into idealistic gas when someone offers a counterpoint that we are thus rendered unable to engage in conversation with anyone who doesn't think like us-but this is a subject for another time and place- maybe another BLOG somewhere.
So, I will try to keep this "short"- heh, heh. I think in my last post I was addressing two issues:
1. the issue of epidurals and the ethical questions associated with using them- which I feel that I have a right to speak too as a male. Men offer them as MD's, or would women only accept them if offered by a female MD and anesthesiologist because only they "know" and can speak to the physical results? Why can't daddy's have an opinion about them as husbands and fathers? This leads me into the second topic of what I felt were the larger issues: pregnancy, education, rights to choose in a consumer society and companionship decisions. Here again I spoke on these issues as a parent and a citizen of the USA and World that my children will grow up in. I am not going to apologize for having opinions and trying to influence others to consider my position as viable- but that's as far as I go. Do as you choose and we can agree to disagree.
So, to the more pointed issue of never "having [known what] it's like to squeeze something the size of a watermelon out of a size of a melon" I never said that I had. The topic was not about experiences. The topic was about- well, you read it above. That's the angle that I am coming from. I didn't know that gender excluded me from being able to voice my opinions-? Maybe we should exclude all males from the entire process and then we won't have anything to talk about.(uh, I mean with this whole birthing thing for those who enjoy infering and inserting meta and sub narratives into BLOGS) Now it's your turn. Don't let your opinions wheeze for air, share them and let them gain strength from the experience- let me know about yours since you are so passionate about it- you might just influence mine.

 
At 2/22/2005 5:14 AM, Anonymous wheezer said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2/22/2005 11:01 AM, Blogger amygeekgrl said...

Wheezer,

I'm not going to accept name slinging on my blog. Please post respectfully.

I want to keep the blog open so that everyone can post (not just registered users), but if name slinging continues, I will have to limit it to registered users only.

Thank you,
amygeekgrl

 
At 5/31/2005 6:58 PM, Blogger Running2Ks said...

I'm with you. First of all, birth is not a medical condition offering babies to be delivered by the doctor gods like some mystic pizzas. Every time society accepts as a pun or a matter-of-fact statement that puts down natural ways of doing things, it is just another death knell for a woman's right to choose the natural and healthy choices--the ones that help her to feel empowered and strong and the ones that are what was intended for her baby. Drugs and surgeries are supposed to be for a dangerous or overly stressful situation--not the norm. The be cavalier on a t-shirt is akin to people thinking that Hooters is just a restaurant about owls.

 

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