February 26, 2008

Playtex Bottles: If You're Not Part Of The Solution, You're Part Of The Problem

playtex_solutions_for_mom.jpg

While trying to find any mention or pictures of the non-pastel bottles Playtex finally got around to making, I went to the company's website, PlaytexBaby.com. I thought I was long past the stage where cared enough to point out retrograde, dad-exclusionary crap like this--"Solutions For Mom" and "We design our products with you [Mom] and your baby in mind."-- but I guess not.

Realistically, I guess I shouldn't expect anything else from a company that started making latex-infused bras and girdles. But is Playtex still solely a women's product company? Let's go to the tape:

Playtex.com is shared by the two separate Playtex companies. Turns out Hanes bought the bra and girdle business when it was spun off in 2006.

playtex_com_screen.jpg

Of the six product lines on Playtexproducts.com, only tampons is inarguably women-only. [the others: Wet Ones, Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, and baby care. And dishwashing gloves. According to reports dating back to the Bob Eubanks era, men occasionally wash a dish, though not with gloves; I bought mine to strip the paint off our doorknobs.]

playtex_products_screen.jpg

And though PlaytexBaby.com includes a big range of breastfeeding products, even most of those can't be considered women-only for families where dads are involved in feeding, storing and thawing milk or washing gear.

If you want to see the negative effects of a baby company limiting its focus to moms and babies, just look at the debacle that was the previous generation Diaper Genie; while the stuff-n-twist top made the woman's job [sic] of changing diapers easier, the unwieldy, twisty sausagesful of diapers and the topheavy canister made the man's job [sic], taking out the trash, a smelly pain in the ass. Did no one ever think of that in the design stage? Playtex?

I'm not under any naive illusion that either the consumer products industry or the baby industrial complex should turn into a dad-centric support group overnight; that'd be a giant fiasco. Women are still the primary buyers and users of most of these baby and household products. But the idea that they're the only buyers and users is as outdated and uncomfortable as an 18 Hour Girdle.

Dads don't really need much to tip them in favor of a baby product: it's usually enough to not alienate, annoy, or embarrass them--and to improve the overall usability of a product. By reconsidering the entire disposal process, the Diaper Genie II was a marked improvement over its predecessor. Getting rid of treacly pastel colors on Advance Ventaire bottles makes them less girly and helps differentiate them on the shelf [also, it saved me from wasting a few thousand bucks, thanks!].

K2's waking up, so I'll have to end my/this rant here. Playtex, you still have some work to do.

Previously: 06/2004: PLEASE redesign the Diaper Genie
08/2006: 'Thank You?' Try 'You're Welcome': Playtex Unwraps The DiaperGenie II

13 Comments

That's especially funny (strange not haha) given that women are bottle-feeding so much less than they used to. That leaves who to use bottles?? Hmmm.

I actually did a doubletake when I saw the box delivered from Target with the Graco high chair in it. After 5 months of sharing every aspect of my baby boy's life, I read the slogan: "Graco: Ask Moms Who Know." Pissed me the hell off.

The latest One Step Ahead catalog features a father and two kids. Of course, he's pushing them in a double stroller while walking briskly in warm-up pants. Wouldn't want to make a man appear tender or anything.

The subtext I read is that he's infertile because he has brown hair and the two kids are a blond infant boy and a 3-ish Asian girl. The age difference is too great for them to be friends, so an adoption seems more likely. I suppose Manly Jogging Man could be babysitting. Or maybe he's Super Fertile Man and spreads his seed around.

[it's Saturday morning, he's taking them for pancakes at McDonald's. -ed.]

Yeah, this type of momcentric marketing has ticked me off ever since I first stepped foot in a Babies R Us five years ago to register for our first.

I remember going out of my way to find a different brand of diaper rash cream other than Desitin just because that brand was so momcentric, with its "#1 choice of pediatricians and moms" slogan cackling at me every time I changed my baby's diaper.

Then there's Parenting magazine and it's momcentric subheading "What Matters to Moms" defiantly printed on every rag cover. It's Parenting magazine, not Mothering magazine.

And need I mention Jif? I believe it might even be fair to blame Jif and it's "Choosy moms choose Jif" slogan for society's momcentric attitudes. And taking a quick glance at Jif's site, it even has a "Mom Advisor" for those moms wishing to take advantage of Jif's superior education, shopping and cooking knowledge. Moms only, please.

Ugh.

I totally agree!

Open up Parenting Magazine, and it’s full of pages to help MOM. Meanwhile, dad is relegated to a one or two page article in the back of the magazine – quite often on a totally detached topic (see the dec/jan 08 issue for an article on the perils taking the kids on vacation, “On the road again,” – WHO CARES?). The title of the magazine says it all "Parenting: what matters to moms." So I guess our job is limited to depositing the sperm and the weekly paycheck. Why is it socially unacceptable to talk about what we’re going through? Like somehow we were never meant to REALLY raise our kids. I have been told by family members that it’s my wife’s job to raise my boys, not mine. What’s that about?

It's time for these companies to step up and give dads some attention.

Peace,

Joey
www.daddybrain.wordpress.com

I got a subscription to Parenting by cashing in frequent-flier miles or somesuch, and I was really struck by how momcentric it was (this, even before their cover tag), so I wrote a letter saying so.

I got a reply saying that they wanted to print my letter. Still waiting to see that almost a year later.

Maybe the cover tag should be: "Parenting: No penises allowed."

Are you guys serious? Would you like a tampon? God made women to bare children; we are 90% of the time the ones who take care of the children. FACT... Oh freaking well, if you’re so concerned about not seeing the word Dad on magazine covers then why don’t you start your own Parenting magazine for men. I bet you wont see women complaining about it, were going to pick it up and read it for ideas. Maybe instead of crying about it you should do the same thing, read the magazine and be grateful that the advice is there. Still giving you the option of doing what you want. One more thing if you don’t like something make a change, don’t do it out of spite because you don’t like how everything is so mommyfied, do it to better society. If you want the title of MOM so bad, maybe you should carry all mommies’ responsibility for a while, doing all a mom does and see how quickly you want to give that title back… It’s not easy….

Thanks for stopping by my 4-year-old dadblog, Janie, which has more monthly readers than all but 3-4 parenting magazines out there, where between 30-40% of the readers and commenters are women, and where maybe a dozen of the 5000+ posts are about the systemic, structural female-centrism of the Parenting Industrial Complex.

The point of this post was to show that maybe a reason Playtex made nothing but girly pastel-colored bottles was because it's a female-oriented company to its core, and a significant number of its product lines are inarguably for women only.

It's moot now, of course, because Playtex just release white and off-white bottles, too. Finally. So yeah, mission accomplished/problem solved, whatever.

I wish you the best in getting your baby daddy off his butt for more than 10% of the child care.

Hahaha.... I guess I need to open up to the idea that some men do more now with their children. Thats great

Thanks
Janie

In the VenteAir Playtex bottles is a rubber disk at the bottom. These disks get stained. WHERE CAN I FIND REPLACEMENTS? Store employees say, "You have to buy a new bottle." That can't be correct. WHY would a well-known company like Playtex do something so cheap and underhanded? Since the bottles and nipple are still perfect. By the way, you sell the extra nipples.

thats true i just bought a ventair bottle and the rubber disk from the bottom got stained and the water spills from the bottom of the bottle.I think they dont sell it separetly.Whe have 2 buy another bottle.

I actually sent them a letter with questions about this area of their site and about one of their bottles, which has a "Designed for Mom" section in the back. I got a form letter in reply. Nothing to do with my letter--only a "Thanks for taking the time. We love to hear from our customers."

Oh, and included was a $7 coupon, which I guess I'm supposed to give my wife?

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