Ad about postpartum motherhood rejected from the Oscars for being 'too graphic'

"Feminine hygiene was put in the same category as guns, ammunition, sexually suggestive nudity, religion and politics."
Frida said its postpartum ad was banned from the Oscars due to "partial nudity and product demonstration."
Frida said its postpartum ad was banned from the Oscars due to "partial nudity and product demonstration."Frida Mom
/ Source: TODAY

Frida is a company that specializes in postpartum products for both moms and babies — but an ad showcasing the reality of using those products was rejected from airing during the Academy Awards on Sunday for being "too graphic."

The minute-long spot begins with a new mom getting out of bed just before 3 a.m. as a baby cries in the background. The commercial features details familiar to new moms — mesh hospital underwear, bulky pads and a postpartum belly. The woman wordlessly makes her way to the bathroom, where she uses tools like a plastic squirt bottle.

The commercial ends with the tagline "Postpartum recovery doesn't have to be this hard" and a showcase of several Frida products. After the advertisement was rejected, the company shared it on YouTube, along with a message about its rejection from airing during the Academy Awards.

According to Frida, the ad was specifically rejected due to "partial nudity and product demonstration," though no nudity is actually seen in the advertisement. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences guidelines state that advertisements of "political candidates/positions, religious or faith-based messages/positions, guns, gun shows, ammunition, feminine hygiene products, adult diapers, condoms or hemorrhoid remedies" are not permitted during the broadcast.

Frida CEO Chelsea Hirschhorn told TODAY Parents that it "felt like a setback" to see postpartum recovery products grouped together with other more sensitive topics.

"We were really surprised to hear that feminine hygiene was put in the same category as guns, ammunition, sexually suggestive nudity, religion and politics," she said. "I was surprised, in this day and age, to see that whomever at whatever organizational level at the Academy and at ABC put in writing that they would analogize feminine hygiene to some of those other, more offensive categories of advertising."

Hirschhorn also highlighted the success of "Period. End of Sentence." — a short film that won the 2019 Oscar Award for Best Documentary Short Subject and that was dedicated to feminine hygiene and menstruation. She said the award show's wide audience made it an ideal platform to share a message about postpartum care.

"We created this campaign and wanted to share a raw and honest portrayal of what a woman navigating this physical transformation for the first time goes through," Hirschhorn said. "We thought there would be no better outlet or channel than on a night that awards storytelling at the highest level."

TODAY Parents requested comment from several spokespeople at ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Those requests were not answered by either company.

Experts have referred to the first three months postpartum as "the fourth trimester," where women are still recovering from giving birth while dealing with newborns in need of constant care.

"We wonder, after experiences like these, why women remain so completely unprepared to navigate this very fragile time period," Hirschhorn said. "It's because there are very narrowly defined ways in which we can share information."