This post was developed in collaboration with P&G as part of their Love Over Bias campaign.
I have respect and so much love for moms out there. I mean mothers who practice mothering as an action. Moms who do their best to give their kids the devotion, support, attention and love they deserve. I’m talking about the moms who show up, the moms who do the work. You are appreciated for the dedication you demonstrate, the diligence required to take the kids to practice, support them on sports teams and in school concerts and plays. Here’s to the moms who show up every day to stoke the fires of creativity and self confidence in their kids. The moms who move mountains and surmount obstacles, just to meet their children’s needs. The moms who understand that they are their kid’s first, best, fiercest advocate – as my mom always says, from the womb to the tomb. The moms like the ones you see in the latest P&G Olympics film, titled Love Over Bias. It’s the newest installment of their incredible “Thank You, Mom” ads, and it’s right on target for the Olympic Winter Games.
Love Over Bias is directed by Alma Har’el (her work includes award-winning films Bombay Beach and LoveTrue), and gives us a glimpse into what it would be like to raise an Olympic athlete despite the challenges that society may put in their way. The six vignettes you’ll see reflect struggles that real athletes have faced, to overcome assumptions and prejudices based on gender, race, culture, religion, physicality, socio-economic status and more. It puts their efforts into perspective and underscores how important and game changing it is to have a mother in your corner, as the first and best cheerleader you could ever have. And yes, it is the kind of commercial that can make you weep. So be forewarned and pass the tissues.
I totally shed a tear the first (and second) time I watched this film because it made me reflect on my own biases, and my own life. My own mom struggled and sacrificed, and I was raised by what amounted to a village of moms – my oldest sister Petal, and my aunties Gemma and Opal, all were there to encourage, support, uplift and mold me into the woman I’ve become.
My parents sent me to a barrage of lessons when I was growing up – piano, ballet, modern dance, tennis – weekend classes that weren’t cheap, I knew that even then. I didn’t understand or appreciate it at the time, but now that I’m grown I have perspective on the reasons, and what it would have taken for them to do that for me. My mom wanted me to have opportunities that she didn’t get to have. She wanted me to grow up to be a woman who was proud of who I was, how I looked, and what I stood for, and to push past the biases that existed against me and women like me. Even when I wanted to quit dance because I felt self conscious about my weight, even when my tennis instructor told my parents I was “more of an academic,” they pushed me to keep going, keep trying, be my best me no matter what. As I grew up, founded Afrobella and dedicated myself to spotlighting women of color, natural hair, and pushing cosmetic companies for better products for women of color, I’m reminded of how much my parents and my village of moms pushed me to keep fighting.
This video made me also reflect on the Olympic Winter Games, when athletes from all around the world will gather to compete in sports that dazzle and amaze me. I honestly love watching these Olympic Games because I grew up in Trinidad. Coming from such a hot place, the Winter Olympics always seemed mysterious and fascinating, and the sports seemed like dangerous and impossible things I could never do. The heights of the ski jump, the speed of luge – it’s all so thrilling and cold and foreign, and amazing to behold. This may sound silly, but it always makes me think of the Jamaican bobsled team and the struggles it must have taken for them to get there. Talk about bias – I can relate to the shock of cold, having come from a hot place. I can’t imagine the hard work it took for them to get there (and no wonder they made a movie about their efforts)!
So here we are, at the dawn of another winter Olympic Games, a time when the world comes together to compete and demonstrate skill but to also celebrate history, peace and incredible ability. Here’s to the athletes from around the world who will gather, who have overcome so much to even get to the Olympic Village. And here’s to all of the moms and motherly figures that helped them get there. We’re rooting for you!