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  • Special Issue:(Re)creating Cultural Models of Motherhoods in Contemporary Advertising
  • Margaret Hogg (bio), Pauline Maclaran (bio), Lydia Martens (bio), Stephanie O'Donohoe (bio), and Lorna Stevens (bio)

Huge markets have grown up around the ideology of the nuclear family and the central role of the mother in maintaining this. Myths endure around ideal motherhood archetypes that imply certain behaviors, norms, and indeed, taboos. These social and cultural constructions about how to be a good mother proliferate in the marketplace through numerous intersecting discourses. Building on the essays and personal reflections concerning how advertising addresses and represents mothers in Volume 7, Issues 3 and 4 of this journal, this special issue takes a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary focus to explore advertising's role in the circuit of culture and the (re)construction of motherhood roles, identities and relationships in media representations. Whereas the articles in Volume 7 focused on aspects of early childhood and maternity, this issue focuses on papers relating to later stages of motherhood.

Rachana Johri's paper, "Mothering Daughters and the Fair and Lovely Path to Success," fits particularly well with this special issue as it draws on an increasingly important cultural context (India) and focuses on gendered issues around mother and daughter relationships with specific reference to appearance, and a television advertising campaign for a fairness cream: Fair and Lovely. The paper begins with a general analysis of the privileged space occupied by motherhood in India, and especially by mothers of sons. This son preference is a key theme throughout the paper, and its opposite, the sense of loss of status often felt by mothers of daughters, who in India, are sometimes referred to as barren. Linked to the motherhood theme is the other predominant theme of the paper: beauty and the importance of a fair skin. Johri offers an interesting historical analysis of the changing trend in the advertising campaigns for Fair and Lovely cream (FAL)—from a concern with safety and effectiveness of the skin lightening treatment, to the idea of romance and finding the man of your dreams, to Fair and Lovely as a path to personal destiny and success. However, the interesting twist in Johri's paper is that she takes the opportunity, using a detailed reading of the "Manzil Saaf Dikhe" ad which depicts a young woman who has chosen to be a professional cyclist, to analyze how mothers' voices have been silenced in the new global India.

In "Motherhood in Black and Brown: Advertising to U.S. Minority Women," Elizabeth Hirschman also explores the intersection of motherhood and ethnicity, this time by looking at representations of black and Hispanic mothers, African-American and Hispanic women being the two major U.S. women-of-color communities. Significantly, her paper highlights how their limited portrayals as household cleaners, cooks and babysitters continue to contribute to contemporary stereotyping of mothers-of-color. First, Hirschman documents the history of the iconic black female image of Aunt Jemima, the "face" of Quaker Oats, whose intertextual history recalls the "black mammy" who raised rich white children in America's Deep South. She traces how this image has evolved since its conception, with Aunt Jemima's features becoming more Caucasian looking in later campaigns, yet still retaining her servant connotations. Disturbingly, Hirschman's analysis reveals how post-2000 advertising has seen a revival of negative stereotyping of "Big Black Momma" associations. Turning then to Hispanic mothers, she shows how they are most often depicted in limited family-and child-centered roles which again perpetuate their stereotyping. Advertisers' preference for using lighter-skinned Hispanic models, together with more European features, is also commonplace, as Hirschman highlights in her discussions. Overall her paper illustrates the major discrepancies between media images of black and Hispanic mothers and the wider socio-cultural narratives in which their lives are embedded. In conclusion Hirschman offers recommendations as to how advertisers can begin to address the problem, rather than continue to reinforce the mismatch between media images and women-of-colors' everyday lives.

In "Through Mother's Eyes," our third paper in this special issue, Dan Cook's exploration of maternal representations in American parenting magazine advertising takes as its starting point the...

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