Kenjus W. sent us this remarkable Pampers commercial:

It, of course, is another instance of activism by purchase, which we discussed at length on this blog. Why doesn’t Pampers just buy some babies some vaccines? Wouldn’t that be nice? No, they’ll only help keep babies alive if you buy their product.

But it’s also a fascinating example of the way in which “white” “Westerners” are seen as rescuing the rest of the world. This white mother with her white baby represent the West (erasing the diversity of people who live there). And she and her baby are counterposed to all the other mothers and their babies representing different racial groups (which are assumed to be coherent categories, even continents, i.e., Asian, Black, Indian, etc).

In the narrative of this commercial, all women are bonded by virtue of being natural nurturers of babies (and I could take issue with that, too), but the white Western woman is the ultra-mother. They may be sisters, but there are big and little sisters in this narrative. The babies run to her as if they are drawn to her ultra-motherhood and she treats them all, just for a moment, as if they were he very own. Pampers wants you to think, of course, that when you buy a pack of Pampers, you are “helping” Other mothers and can save those Other babies.

This is just another manfestation of an old colonial belief, the white man’s burden, or the belief that white men had to take care of the rest of the world’s people because they were incapable of taking care of themselves. The image below (from The Journal [Detroit], 1923, according to wikipedia) gets the idea across:

Great find, Kenjus!

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