November 5, 2018

The Maggi Nigeria Ad and Superwoman Syndrome

Last week, Maggi released an advert featuring a woman who wears many hats through the course of her day - from Caretaker to Slayer to Boss Lady, and so on and so forth. When I first saw the ad, I was quite happy because I know someone who worked with the team on the shoot. I was very happy for her, and left a hearty "Congratulations" message on her IG profile. I like to see people I know succeeding and making boss moves, so I was genuinely happy. I didn't think much more about the advert, to be honest... that is, until I went on Twitter.

On Nigerian Twitter, there is a group of women generally known as "The Feminists." It's not like they have a club or actual group o, but their ideals line up with feminism. Anyway, they took issue with the advert, saying that Maggi was perpetrating/glorifying the Superwoman ideal. The premise of today's Superwoman is that she excels on all fronts, without help from anyone, and loving it. She's a fantastic homemaker, cook, mother, she's killing it on the career front, looks good all the time, perfect wife, etc. She has it all, she does it all, and she loves it! No complaints, no help from anyone at all. 

Let's be honest though - do you know any woman like that? A woman who does everything by herself, puts everyone above herself, all the time, and never gets tired or stressed out. If you know her, please put me in touch with her, so I can learn. 

I almost want to say that "the feminists" are breathing fire where there isn't even any smoke, but I think that they have a point here. I am a full-time working mum, and even with the help I have from my family, I still get tired and stressed out. I don't know how single mothers who have no help do it! The thing though, is that if/when I complain about being tired, I'm either dismissed or looked at as an ungrateful person. My feelings are not given any validity - how dare I complain, when other women are juggling way more than I am? My question though is - did they tell you that they're not complaining? Did they tell you they're not tired? Did they tell you they haven't blown up every now and then at their partners in frustration? Have you asked them when they last did something solely for themselves, to relax and just be? (See my 12 Ways of Self Care post)

Why is there this narrative for women to just go, go, go without taking care of themselves, and if they dare say the slightest thing in the negative, are castigated and frowned upon? A lot of Nigerian men will say, "After all, my mother did this, this, this and this, so why can't you do it too?" FYI to those men, just because your mummy didn't tell you she was tired, doesn't mean that she was never tired. She probably had/has friends that she talked/talks to. By the way, the woman portrayed in the ad, would typically have not just a driver, but also a housekeeper, nanny, and even a laundry person. When I lived in Lagos, we had a driver and a woman to help clean the apartment once a week.  

All that being said, my cousin made a point yesterday on our Tea With Cubes talk show. A lot of women in America can relate to the ad, because having hired help is not the norm here. Don't get me wrong - even young Nigerian women who live here these days are beginning to have live-in nannies, or hire people to clean their homes. Sometimes, their husbands pitch in to help with the children, cooking or household chores. But, I believe the average woman here must work and maintain her home, without help. Whether she looks amazing and smiles through it all without getting tired or stressed out, on a constant basis, is a little bit of a stretch. Don't quote me - I've not done research. 

Here's the truth - there is no one-size-fits-all. There might be women out there who actually have it all, do it all, and love it all, no complaints at all. I think she is gifted with extra doses and measures of grace (someone I know will say she's gifted with loving slavery - her actual words, LOL). But I think the average woman, even if she can do everything, needs help and buy in from either a spouse, partner, or hired help. I think it's time for women to be able to say, "I'm tired. I need some help with this or that," without feeling like a failure.

What do you think? Did you see the ad? Were you offended or not? I've worked with Maggi before, btw and I hope my post is not seen as an attack on them. I cook with Maggi when I can, yes I do.

BTW - I still think my friend did an awesome job on the ad! Well done.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Berry- it's been a long time. I had no problem with the ad. It was cute and maybe I'm too hip to advertising ways, but I didn't take it as - this is real life. Lol. I never look at ads that way. I don't think the ad suggests that "superwomen" are not tired or stressed etc. It's portraying a woman at her best- which we all have our "best" day! I think the ad is only trying to say you can also be a winner by incorporating Maggi into your routine. I think some people just love to hate everything even when it's created to celebrate them. I view the ad and think - yeah that's me too! I can do it all, I am awesome, I am a great mom and cook and worker and wife and best dresser - even when some days I don't feel that way at all! :)

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  2. Hi Berry. Yes I did see the advert and saw the arguments going back and forth on Twitter. As someone watching it from the UK, I was mesmerized. I was enchanted by the colours, the scenery, the woman's beauty etc. BUT I agree with you. It does portray unrealistic ideals. Women are under a lot of pressure and it's time we started telling stories which reflect real life.

    Madeline
    www.madelinewilsonojo.com

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  3. Hi Berry...as soon as i saw the ad... i didnt like it... it just screamed pressure and unrealistic expectations from women..just like the pictures we see on fashion magazines like Vogue.

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  4. I saw the ad and I love it.
    I honestly dont get why people are soo angry. Ads dont show people on their worse days, most ads are supposed to make you feel happy, and leave with a "because of so so and so brand i can do this". I want to show how my product can make you anything you want to be.
    Thats how most ads are designed. Yes we want to see brands that show the reality of people but if i am a frustrated wife, I dont want to spend my limited tv time watching my life play out in front of me again.
    Media is a form of escape and its not entirely reality.
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    Also while I get that most women are stressed, Nigeria is a city with 36 states and the reality of women in lagos isnt the same as that in other states.
    Lagos is a stressful city and in between the noise and traffic, you need help. In some other locations, going to the market and cooking dinner after work might not be super unrealistic.
    .
    I think people made assumptions about the add that dont reflect that of everyone.

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Reading your comments ALWAYS makes me smile. I hope you smile when I reply :)