If you follow my social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), you may remember a photo shoot my son and I did with Dove Men+ Care back in February. We had a lot of fun that day, and despite the fact that in one of the photos I’m pretending to play a guitar that I wouldn’t be able to play even if it were actually plugged in, I’m not even being sarcastic!
How could I be, when Detective Munch looked so amazing in the resulting photos? We’re talking peak Andrew McCarthy, in the St. Elmo’s Pretty Mannequin at Bernie’s era.
I left that shoot thinking it might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and then they sent me a package of hair products. Ouch! Don’t they know the new baby stress is making me lose my hair?
All joking about my encroaching male pattern baldness aside, Dove Men+ Care does seem to understand men, and dads. They are one of the (few?) companies displaying a little brand awareness of the modern dad, and consistently promoting healthy images of fatherhood. While the whole idea of advertisers giving fathers the short end of the stick is not exactly one I spend a lot of time worrying about, I was grateful for the opportunity to join with them and maybe help change the minds of people who do have outdated ideas of what a dad’s role should be.
In most households that I’m familiar with, parents work together as a team. But if my life were a commercial, the two weeks I’m currently spending alone with my son would be depicted as a comedy of errors, and Mom and Buried would return home to find us both dressed in potato sacks, eating nothing but cereal, trying to stop the washing machine from overflowing. It’s ridiculous – dads don’t corner the market on screwing up any more than moms do everything right all the time – but it’s never really bothered me the way it does many fathers (well, many fathers who blog).
It’s obviously stereotypical to assume that dads can’t handle grocery shopping (I can, I just really don’t want to), or that we always dress our kids in something ridiculous (I’m colorblind!), or that we “babysit” instead of, ya know, parent (I wish I got paid for this shit!). And it’s especially tone-deaf today, when “traditional” roles are fading as standards evolve. Here in real life, the men I know are more than capable of caring for their children.
Sure, I – and every single one of my fellow dads – can be a doofus dad sometimes, but we’re hero dads sometimes too! We’re good dads and bad dads, attuned dads and preoccupied dads, cool dads and lame dads. We’re all of those things, every day, every hour, all the time, depending on our moods or if our kids are being difficult or on any number of individual circumstances no one else can possibly be privy to. We’re not just the backup parent; we contain multitudes, and so do moms.
Of course, advertising has always appealed to the masses via the least common denominator, so why should its approach to fatherhood be any different? Thirty-second TV spots don’t have a lot of room for the nuances inherent in being an actual, three-dimensional human being, and besides, we shouldn’t need every piece of advertising or art or escapism to be indicative or inclusive of everyone’s experiences, or to accurately portray all possible facets of modern life.
And I hate to say it, but let’s not deny that we’ve all been the bumbling dad in the cereal commercial, or the idiot pretending to play a bass guitar that’s not plugged in. Parenting is hard work; there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you screw it up once in a while.
(Moms actually excel at this (and at everything else, am I right?!) They’ve made an online industry of broadcasting their faults and rebelling against the supermom image that’s often expected of them, while we fathers spend much of our time getting defensive whenever someone pokes fun at us. Mommy bloggers are often desperate for permission not to have to live up to unrealistic standards, while many dad bloggers are upset that society’s standards are too low. (That’s rich!))
The sad fact is, being a “bumbling parent” is more realistic, most of the time, than being a “super parent,” for whether you’re a dad or a mom. But it’s nice to see a little brand awareness of the dedicated fathers fulfilling something besides the doofus role, at least once in a while, and Dove Men+ Care is one of the few brands that shows it.
So despite the fact that they just sent me a handful of hair products, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Sure, it hurts to have salt rubbed in the “I’m probably losing my hair from the stress of having another kid“, but at least the package also included some cool grilling utensils! Just in time for my move into an apartment with a backyard and a grill, which isn’t suspicious at all…
To sum up: Dove Men+ Care is a cool brand that really represents dads in a positive way, is also mocking my traumatic hair loss, and may or may not have someone surveilling my house. If they do, I hope they send my wife the electric bill; there’s no way they haven’t noticed that she never turns off any lights!
Disclaimer: Yeah, Dove Men+ Care sent me the aforementioned stuff but it was hurtful and mean so I don’t owe them anything! The opinions in this post are all mine, forever and ever, amen.