What is Best for Babes?
The Mission, the Model, the Method and the Message
Here’s a riddle for you: What do you get when you cross Demi Moore’s iconic nude pregnancy photo, with the Nike Swoosh™ (and Michael Jordan in a pair of Air Jordan’s™), the Pink Ribbon™, and breastfeeding? Answer: A mainstream, consumer-driven, celebrity and corporate-backed nonprofit whose mission is to change the culture from breastfeeding-averse to breastfeeding-friendly! In other words, you get the The Best for Babes® Foundation a/k/a the Mother of All Causes.
It’s a massive goal and we are often asked: “What is Best for Babes exactly?” So we thought it important to explain ourselves — break down the mission, model, message and method — and why we built this Mother Ship to transport breastfeeding from a movement to a true Cause embraced by popular culture.
First, what fuels us is the harm done to millions of U.S. moms annually who are prevented from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals by the cultural and institutional barriers they are unfairly forced to face – the Booby Traps™. That’s right. Harm done. The Booby Traps cause real harm to moms and babies who experience unnecessary physical and emotional struggles trying to breastfeed; real harm when moms and babies miss out on the lifetime of health benefits for themselves and their babies; real harm when they then blame themselves and feel guilt, regret, anguish, grief.
It’s in the name of moms and babies who were too upset and too exhausted to raise their voice or write a letter when they were being actively Booby Trapped, that we founded Best for Babes –an independent 501©(3)nonprofit, to be the first Mainstream Cause for Breastfeeding.
Our mission is not only to serve as a resource for breastfeeding moms or to provide a breastfeeding community, but to be a catalyst for change in the culture-at-large: to transform the mainstream so that community and breastfeeding are synonymous. Taking aim at and conquering Booby Traps™ that foil and dupe millions of moms annually is the way we will get there. Well, how are we going to pull that Herculean feat off? We believe it’s by taking breastfeeding from a largely marginalized “movement”, to a bona fide Cause, replete with star-power and corporate clout and commandeered by an army of the millions of moms–those who set out to breastfeed and were booby-trapped along the way, and who now say, enough is enough!
We founded the Best for Babes Foundation in the form of an independent, mainstream nonprofit to give us the most flexible and potent vehicle to carry our giant mission and strategy forward. We chose to follow in the line of the great charities (e.g., The March of Dimes) and social marketing campaigns (e.g., Nike and fitness) to put the power and tools of social marketing to work for breastfeeding –to spur culture-wide change and build infrastructure to solve public health problems.
As an independ ent nonprofit, we intend BFB to be a vehicle to be used by all stakeholders –for profit businesses (both breastfeeding industry and non-breastfeeding industry), government agencies, other nonprofits, the media, celebrities. By using this model, we are unbiased conglomerate that serves the social good - breastfeeding – not one entity in particular and we have greater latitude to be the unorthodox voice for change that is often needed. The formula industry has the International Formula Council, shouldn’t we have a trade group/alliance equally as strong?
For moms, we aim to be a gateway to resources, relying on individual, corporate and grant sources to stake projects that make vital evidence-based information directly available to the mainstream – not just the lucky few who are fortunate enough to have an expert LC care for them — so that they are no longer sitting ducks for the Booby Traps, statistical casualties.
At the same time, under our Corporate Alliance umbrella, we work collaboratively with celebrities, the media, the medical community and the healthy parenting advocacy community to raise awareness of the barriers and to demand and facilitate cultural and institutional change on behalf of moms. In this way, we go far beyond mother-to-mother support or helping one woman at a time to succeed at breastfeeding: we are building the infrastructure so that MORE women can be helped, FASTER, without having to overcome tremendous obstacles!
We chose our message and our brand very carefully with a deep understanding that every great cause with broad-based popular support is fighting against an inarguable big bad wolf that needs to be felled! And so we began our Campaign to Beat the Booby Traps – changing the core message about breastfeeding from “benefits” –which equals pressure on moms and has been cast as an invasion of privacy, to “Booby Traps”– which equals pressure on the barriers that PREVENT the 75% of moms who try breastfeeding from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. We changed the message to reflect the grim reality: moms don’t need more pressure about the benefits, they need help beating the Booby Traps. They don’t need more science, they need solutions and for the suffering to end.
We are doing for breastfeeding what Demi Moore’s cover for Vanity Fair did for pregnancy, what Nike and Michael Jordan did for fitness and working out, what the March of Dimes and (Red) and others have successfully done for similar causes focused on countering public health crises: change cultural norms through positive social pressure (marketing) and build systems — the infrastructure — to support them.
In our consumer-driven consumption culture, using marketing to drive behavior change works. Michael Jordan and Nike did more to launch a “fitness” revolution than knowing the health benefits of exercise alone ever did. In other words, creating the WANT –the desire for change– is more effective than TELLING people what to do because it gets people off the couch and initiating change for themselves.
And what about our image — our gorgeous, scantily-clad cover girls? Well, sometimes you gotta get a little extreme to bring things back to the main- or mid-stream mark. Take the bikini, for example. When it made its debut in 1946 it was scandalous! But it did the trick: one salacious image started a buzz and a trend that turned convention on its head and reset a social norm. Almost half a century later, the iconic Vanity Fair cover photo of a very-pregnant and nude Demi Moore taken by celeb-photographer Annie Liebovitz liberated another facet of the female form and experience – pregnancy. That photo launched a cultural acceptance, celebration and an entirely new maternity industry –The picture embodied not only liberation from hiding behind “moo-moos” while pregnant, but it sent a strong message that it was empowering to be both nurturing and glamorous at the same time — flaunt those robust figures babes, you’re hot and you’re pregnant!
It’s a tall order, we know. And one that many esteemed breastfeeding advocates, supporters and professionals have been slugging away at for years. But ambition is our middle name and we think we’ve got an angle here – an approach – that hasn’t been tried before in the breastfeeding arena – though it has been tried and proven to work in others.
There is room and need for everyone at this table –when breastfeeding rates climb, we all win – mom, baby, families, our collective health, the economy, businesses, and the environment. Our nonprofit table has room for all stakeholders to take a seat, get involved, and help lead moms out of the murky waters of the booby traps and into the larger ocean of success!