Mailbag: Junk mail and Code breaches

I was poking through my junk mail, which has multiplied with the advent of the Season of Consumerism. And I thought I’d share some tidbits.

Dick Smith: anyone for “massage”? I’m guessing this is even legal in Texas!


“Rechargable Hydra Massager HG10. Great for when you’re on the go and need an invigorating massage experience.” “Heated massager HG20. Powerful massage action with Hydragel Dampening System that transfers the energy to the massage head, not the handle.”


House: The unbearable pinkness of “breast cancer awareness”.

You, too, can always be reminded of breasts as you’re slicing up your love apples and pork buns with this pink-handled Kyocera Santoku knife.


The soon-to-be defunct or Mattelified ubiquitous Bratz dolls. These are on sale, presumable to clear the shelves before the recall. Yasmin has mauve lacey lingerie! A mirrored vanity with pink stool! Mirrored wardrobes! What more could our little girls aspire to?



Toy catalogue summary: I rate KMart the worst this year for toy-catalogue genderisation. In good news, the other cheap department stores are actually not as bad this year as they were last year.

The “boys” clothes at Big W are actually a welcome relief from the past few years of skulls, grunge, and “Here Comes Trouble!” This year, we’re looking at stripes ‘n’ brights ‘n’ florals ‘n’ animal prints. Hallelujah. There is, of course, no reason any of these clothes couldn’t be unisex. Hey, I said it was better than last year, not that things were perfect.



In the WHO Code for the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes stakes: Things are not looking so good. Chemist Warehouse, Wizard Warehouse, and Toys R Us are all in on the breaches, advertising infant formula discounts and bottles and formula containers in their glossies. For a primer on the Code and what it means, just search my previous posts on the issue, and check out IBFAN.




But wait – there’s more! Via a friend in NZ, Oxfam Unwrapped, a charity-gift organisation, was openly advertising a “Baby emergency health kit” – containing a feeding bottle. This is completely against not just the Code but also best practice emergency feeding guidelines. As well as the problems with undermining breastfeeding, bottles kill babies, regardless of the contents of the bottle. If an infant cannot be breastfed in a disaster, feeding from a clean cup is recommended.


After receiving complaints, Oxfam have changed the wording on the website to “sipper cup” (if lidded/spouted, this really is no better than a bottle), but there is no word on whether they’ve actually changed the contents of their kits.

Some Oxfam orgs do have aid guidelines congruent with the World Health Organisation/Emergency Nutrition Network feeding guidelines, but their reputation is spotty at best. Previous Oxfam issues have included reports that they were distributing “milk powder” in China after the earthquakes; milk powder should always be combined with a milled grain in emergency food distribution situations, outside of specific therapeutic feeding centres. In addition, Oxfam has unapologetically used a celebrity-endorsed Iconic Bottle image as a “symbol of motherhood” in their “In My Name” advertising.

Categories: gender & feminism, health

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12 replies

  1. hey, on the topic of Christmas presents – you talked about MyDolls on here a little while ago when you were talking about non-Barbie dolls, didn’t you? Well I found it slightly odd that they are featured in LOTL’s gift guide this month: “Want a replica of someone you love? Supply MyDolls with a photo and they make a personalised sculpture. A super cute idea for couples.” (ew!)
    more cool is their other suggestion of dyke dolls, one of which comes with strap-on!
    sorry, i don’t mean to turn this into an advertisement but those last ones beat barbie hands down…

  2. The Oxfam Unwrapped campaign is disgraceful. The promotion of formula over breast milk represents an invidious attempt to undermine infant health and growth and development in my view. This is an ongoing battle in many developing countries as product companies are freely allowed to advertise their product on television, even in new mums booklets issued in hospitals. In some instances the advertising is deliberately designed to make new mums feel they are not providing their baby with optimum nutrition if they choose to breastfeed! A link specific to the Philippines is here:

    I would have expected better from Oxfam in this regard, especially since they do a lot of aid work in the very countries where the breast vs formula milk wars are occurring. This is really quite disappointing.

  3. Sorry, that should read freely allowed to advertise their product as superior to breastmilk on television….
    Coherence out the window when emotions are high!

  4. Wow… I’m woefully uninformed on the bottle vs cup issue 😦

  5. I think I’m pretty familiar with the formula v. breastfeeding issues in the developing world, but this jumped out at me: “bottles kill babies.” I ask in all sincerity: how? How do bottles kill babies? I’m at a loss here.

  6. Wow… I’m woefully uninformed on the bottle vs cup issue 😦

    It’s such a simple thing. Bottles/teats just can’t be cleaned properly in unsanitary conditions, whereas with cups you have a chance. This is by far the biggest factor.
    In addition, babies probably get less feeding-method preference and/or nipple confusion (there are different terminologies) with a cup, meaning that they are in with a better shot of getting back to nursing when reunited with their mother, fostered, or adopted.
    Even a newborn can sip from a cup, and there is possibly a little less physiological compromise with cup feeding compared to bottle feeding (though breastfeeding is better than either). (Reference.) As the WHO Guide says, even quite premature babies can be cup fed (and less fat is lost than with a feeding tube). Another advantage is that when milk is being donated without wet nursing, the donor can express straight into the feeding cup – so there are fewer chances for fat loss and bacterial contamination.
    I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m all “Yay, formula from a cup is just fine!” here. Any non-breastfed baby is at significant risk. This is just one way of mitigating that risk a tiny bit, if there is absolutely no way in the world that the baby can be breastfed.
    There are lots more references on infant feeding in emergencies here at Kellymom, and more information on the background at IBFAN and Baby Milk Action.

  7. I did a bit of googling after I posted my comment. A lot of it is “Well, duh, I should have thought of that” stuff. Of COURSE bottles are harder to keep sterile than cups.
    Thanks for the links!
    hexy’s last blog post..SWOP USA’s National March for Sex Workers Rights

  8. I’m confused about “New Parents and Clucky friends.” Is that a misprint? What, exactly, are clucky friends? That puts me in mind of the mother-in-law who hovers around, making “tut tut” noises about all the mistakes the new mom is making. (Not that I had this experience, thank heaven. My MiL lived 3,000 miles away. YAY!). ;D

  9. Clucky friends = the sad hangers on in your life w/o babies of their own. You can get me< them the oxfam thing AND the Dick Smith vibrator for a mere $50, killing two unmet longings with one stone.

  10. “Clucky” might be a regionalism – it means people who are very keen to have children, but haven’t yet. Like a broody hen.

  11. Or people who do have children but are temporarily spellbound by a beautiful newborn or small child and start to think that they might have another one, before coming to their senses and heading off to Dick Smith.

  12. “It’s such a simple thing. Bottles/teats just can’t be cleaned properly in unsanitary conditions, whereas with cups you have a chance. This is by far the biggest factor.”
    I had that same question, and thought that might be the answer. thanks

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