You may have seen the campaign to “Get Britain Fertile” fronted by a poster campaign featuring TV presenter Kate Garraway made up to look like an older-than-she-is pregnant woman. The idea of educating women about fertility may seem to be a good one, but this campaign has already sparked considerable controversy. Barbara Ellen, writing in The Guardian, points out quite rightly that the reason many women delay having children is not because they are career-obsessed or just enjoying their party lifestyles – it’s more often because they haven’t met a man who is ready and willing to think about becoming a parent. On one women’s forum, the campaign was described as ‘patronising’ and ‘offensive’, and the National Student website headlined it as ‘all kinds of wrong’.
There is room for more education about female fertility. Although women are aware that their fertility declines with age, they don’t always know quite how early this begins to happen – and many still assume that fertility treatment is able to sort out any problems that may arise from leaving it late to conceive. However, of all the women I’ve met who are trying to conceive later in life, there are very few who have left it late through choice; the vast majority are in this position because they hadn’t met the right person to have children with earlier. I’ve lost track of the number of women who felt that they wasted years in relationships with men who “weren’t quite ready” or couldn’t decide whether they really wanted children.
Whatever one concludes about the campaign, I can’t see the point of the picture of Kate Garraway made up to look like an older pregnant woman which seems completely wrong on every front to me – What is it meant to be saying? Are we supposed to be horrified at the idea of a wrinkly mother? I suppose the advertisers have achieved their aim of “getting people talking” about the campaign, but perhaps not in the way that they might have intended.