This billboard of a “perfect mum” has sparked a major debate on social media

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Hayley Spencer
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Over the past few weeks, there’s been on onslaught of adverts perpetuating tired gender stereotypes (this sexist spa ad, anyone?). And, yesterday, a new billboard plastered across Waterloo station seemed to take aim at mums.

The advert – created by Baby Dove – featured a flawless, confident, and unblemished mother as she cradles a newborn baby.

The image was accompanied by the tagline “Is there a perfect mum?” and invited mothers to join the discussion on Twitter with #realmums.

Naturally, users were quick to protest to the image’s dangerously idealistic depiction of a new mum, and the insinuation that mothers should have to live up to a stereotype of perfection.

One Twitter user also pointed out the fact that the ad was “pitting women against each other”.

Another noted that the portrayal looked “filtered and unrealistic.”

And one user pointed out that “imperfections are what make women perfect.”

However, as it turns out, the woman’s seemingly “perfect” appearance is completely intentional.

In fact, the woman isn’t just an airbrushed model: she is an avatar created using Artificial Intelligence technology, which combined aspects of “the images of motherhood that new mums are exposed to every day.”

Explaining how they created ‘Aimee’, Dove revealed that they analysed over 1,800 images of new mums’ faces taken from UK women’s lifestyle and parenting magazines over the past 12 months. They also collated images from social media using the hashtags #newmum #firsttimemum #mumtobe and #pregnant. 

These were used to build a dataset for the AI system to learn ‘how a new mum’s face is’.  The AI gathered data from every single image such as facial expression and shape, skin colour and make-up – with absolutely no human interference or input in the learning process.

So why go to so much effort?

Well, Aimee was created in response to Dove’s nationwide research of 3,000 first-time British mums, which revealed that nearly nine out of 10 first-time mums feel the pressure to be perfect. They cited media representations of motherhood in magazines and newspapers, images on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, and celebrity mums as the biggest contributors to this pressure. 

Marcus Buck, Baby Dove Brand Manager said: “The ‘Perfect Mum’ experiment addresses a real issue in society: images of seemingly perfect parenting in the media and social media are denting mum’s confidence to be herself.”

He continued: “In reality, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to be a parent, just your way.

“That’s why it’s important for parents everywhere to trust their instincts and feel confident in their own parenting abilities, rather than worry about how well others seem to be doing it. This reflects Baby Dove’s belief that there are no perfect mums, just real ones.”

As of today, the moving billboard now features additional slates confirming that there is no such thing as a perfect mum with stats from the brand’s research and sentiments including “There are no perfect Mums, just real ones.”

Images: courtesy of Unilever