New Pregnancy Test Commercial Dares to Suggest Some Women Might be Happier NOT to be Knocked Up

I don't actually know many women who don't spend most of their pregnancy-testing time staring at the result window in a cold sweat.

Sep 12, 2012 at 12:00pm | Leave a comment

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I now save a lot of money buying the damn things in bulk online. (Best if you pay attention to manufacturer if you go this route, though.)

It would not be overstating things in the least to say that I live in near-constant terror of pregnancy.

I know, it sounds dramatic, but so are my feelings on the subject. I’m far from the sort of person that springs to mind when most folks are talking about women who fear pregnancy. I’m married, for one. I’m also over 35 and without kids. But if I got pregnant today, I would probably have an abortion, and I’m terrified of becoming pregnant simply because I’d really rather not deal with that -- the reason for this isn’t that I think there’s anything wrong with abortion, but rather that I prefer to avoid medical procedures that require me to go to the doctor more than once in a single week and/or to take time off work.

Hey, honesty.

My fear has served me well, as I remain abortion-free as of this writing. But having this pregnancy anxiety means sometimes I wake up at 4 am on a Wednesday and need to know, right now, if I’m knocked up -- a question that for many years was not so easy to answer given my once terrifically irregular cycles. Thus, I’ve always bought pregnancy tests in multiples and in advance, because if I’m having an anxiety attack that will be cured by peeing on a stick, then it's best if I can have the stick at the ready whenever said panic may strike.

(Once, when a period had become markedly late, I even ducked out of a temp job to buy a test to take in the company’s public restroom. Actually, I took it twice. Because I dropped the first one in the toilet, my hands were shaking so badly. Fortunately the second one -- thank goodness for twin packs -- came up negative and I was able to mop up my cold sweat and go back to answering the telephone and inadvertently hanging up on dozens of people for some business-to-business sales conglomerate with ten billion employees and a huge glittering panel of buttons for individual phone lines, only half of which were correctly labeled.)

It’s always bothered me, though, that the overwhelming majority of pregnancy test advertisements presume joy at the news that an embryo has assumed residence in one’s uterus. I mean, I understand that for lots of women peeing on sticks at home in the dead of night, this may be true -- but I also know that for lots of women it is most assuredly not. 

Where is the commercial of the lone woman locking the bathroom door against annoying roommates so she can have five minutes to pee on a stick and then stare at a clock until the result is fixed? Where is the commercial of the terrified teenager facing the possibility of confronting her parents with an unintended pregnancy? Where, for that matter, is the commercial of the woman in her late thirties squatting over a toilet in the public restroom at work, hoping desperately to only see one line in the result window?

Obviously, it’s much easier to advertise your product in connection with happy feelings, and while I would personally call the immense relief at a negative result a happy feeling for sure, the fact remains that culturally women still aren’t supposed to not want babies; commercials of women dancing with joy at the lack of pregnancy are unlikely to become ubiquitous anytime soon.

However, the folks at EPT are making their own tiny effort at subverting the established pregnancy test narrative with a new commercial (shown in the second part of the clip below) that acknowledges that, SOMETIMES, women take pregnancy tests hoping NOT to be pregnant.

Both of these clips are a mere 30 seconds long and mostly consist of a voiceover. The first commercial is the standard YAY EMBRYO! story, but the second is a little different. The test-takin’ lady, off-camera, says (ostensibly via internal monologue), “I wanna be a mom, just... not yet.” As the negative result becomes clear, she continues, “Oh, okay! I’m good! Phew!” with a little relieved giggle. Then we see the commercial’s slogan, which seems to be one of many riffing off the EPT of the product’s name (which actually stands for “Early Pregnancy Test,” did you know that? because I didn’t), and it says “End Panic Today.” 

I’m going to be a nitpicking jerk for just a second here and point out that it also would be nice to hear from a pretend strip-peeing lady who maybe DIDN’T feel like she had to first assert her desire to be a mom -- like for serious, I seriously seriously love me some fucking babies, a whole lot, nobody dare question my commitment to loving the babies -- before she’s allowed to express her hopes that she’s not pregnant at this particular moment in time. 

No doubt, this whole “I wanna be pregnant someday but not now” is how the majority of negative-result-seeking pregnancy-test-taking ladies feel in reality, but it would have been nice, just once, to hear from a fake commercial woman who doesn’t feel like she has to first acknowledge her long-term baby-making plans like some kind of protective talisman against the bad karma her uterus may impose upon her for not being down with knocked-up-ness at its whim. What if my uterus HEARS me wishing for a not-baby? What if it gets mad and refuses to be impregnated later? WHAT HAVE I DONE? 

My own jerkish nitpicking aside, I do appreciate that EPT is at least trying to tell an alternate version of the pregnancy test experience, one many women are familiar with but which is rarely portrayed and therefore is rendered sort of hidden and unspoken except in slightly guilty whispers. 

Of course, I still don’t expect to see a wider variety than this of pregnancy-testing ads anytime soon -- the idea is just too radical, I guess -- so in the meantime I want to hear about your not-portrayed-in-the-commercials pregnancy test experiences. Am I the only one who’s taken a pregnancy test while at work on a temp job? Please tell me I’m not.