Johnson & Johnson
Commentary by Joe Mangano, February 2004

As I was watching the NBC network premiere of Shrek Sunday night, a commercial aired from the very large company Johnson & Johnson. The commercial displays a mother washing her baby in what appears to be the kitchen sink. The commercial's title is Short & Bald.

The voice over says:

You always went for the Tall, Dark, Handsome type. Who'd ever thought the love of your life would be short and bald?

Obviously this mom loves her baby very much - like most moms. Despite the fact that the mother's relationship to the baby appears to be very good and wholesome, the associations are clear; that is, short stature is equivalent to babyhood. The associations use short stature as a plus; as far as the baby goes. Unfortunately, if the baby was an adult male, it is obvious where Mom's affections would lie.

The fact that this commercial aired during the network premiere of the movie Shrek is no accident. Shrek has been lauded by most critics as a wonderful movie that promotes tolerance of differences but has also been criticized by some for the insensitivity it shows toward people of short stature, considering some of the scenes and comments in it. The movie essentially made Short Stature a big joke, while at the same time, supposedly promoting tolerance toward other types of diversity. Furthermore, the comparison the mom made was not an exact one; Short & Bald vs. Tall, Dark and Handsome. No reference was made to the looks of the baby, or the lightness or darkness of the baby's skin.

The ad campaign also includes a Print Ad which is equally offensive. Commercials such as this indicate Short Stature is still a jocular topic, one not to be taken seriously as opposed to topics like race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, and disability, where negative associations are met with organized opposition.