“Unnoticed” is a movement that works its way towards breaking stereotypes and judgements towards new mothers. Considering a wider context to a slightly bigger picture, Unnoticed tries to address easy and difficult messages that new mothers tend to leave unsaid due to various reasons. As a result, Unnoticed is created to help open a self-reassuring platform where the messages metaphorically “cover the eye” of judgement. Unnoticed takes special interest in creating awareness about Postpartum Mental Health like Postpartum Depression, Postpartum OCD as well as Postpartum Psychosis by sharing stories of other mothers. The ultimate objective of Unnoticed is to open discussion about even the most sensitive and inarticulate subjects pertaining to motherhood.
The period of postpartum is one among the most celebrated period of life. At the same time, there are high social expectations and judgements during this period that it creates unnecessary anxiety among new mothers. This generally has the capacity to lead to other mood disorders and mental illnesses.
Unnoticed aims to provide a solution this this problem.
Looking into the two terms ‘target audience’ and ‘Stakeholder’, I would like to differentiate the two of them with the following justification:
Target Audience: The group of people the brand would target to engage and pass the message on to and receive feedback and usage from. In this case, new mothers.
Stakeholders: The group of people the brand aims to pass the message on to eventually. In this case, those that stereotype, set expectations and judge the new mothers.
Unnoticed is based on defiance and challenge in opinion between these two entities. Another important aspect of the target audience is the involvement of the partner in any small way possible. Although the partner is not directly involved in the process of the brand, it is worth considering the fact that the mother finds solace in having her partner know about the anxieties present in her mind at the moment. Matters as sensitive as the mental illness of the mother is an important subject that needs discussion. Is there a need for this?
India is divided into 3 tiers of cities based on Population, Infrastructural developments and Per Capita Income of the residents in the city. “Unnoticed” is targeted at those new mothers in both tier one and tier 2 cities Aged mainly between 22–35, many belonging to the working community. There are two major reasons for this:
1. While many women are blessed with a good standard of living in tier 1, it is in these urban areas that you see the push and pull of duality in terms of the career and societal standards of being a good mother. The social lives of these women come to a sudden standstill making it a major trigger factor. Generally living a lifestyle that includes regular social activities, work and balancing it with home, women in metropolitan women are known to multi task and manage their day quite easily. Rest after pregnancy is surely accepted but after a few days, these women crave to go back to their social life. This change affects their mindset and may act as a trigger to feeling lonely.
2. In tier 2 cities, torn between culture, responsibilities and career, many women are forced to quit their jobs in order to take care of the newborn. Cultural practices are imposed. Big decisions are made for them. The sudden lack of control in other parts of life lead them to take excessive control over their motherhood and the baby.
This is a ‘Practical’ Brand where the idea of judgements and societal norms are broken. “Unnoticed” works on the concept of a fabric installation where there is a three-level engagement and interaction with it. As the first step, “Unnoticed” visually engages through varying levels of objects. On the second level, it provides the user with a tactile engagement where each object brushes on the user from different directions. On the final level, there is direct interaction and engagement while pinning as well as reading the stories from other mothers.
1. Brand Experience:
Unnoticed is predominantly based on the kind of experience it creates. As a fabric installation, Unnoticed aims to make it soft and organic to represent the versatility of motherhood and at the same time have bold colours to represent the strength in them. The colours, developed through one of the previous experiments, is a representation of the emotions that mothers have related to.
When the mother first walks into the installation space, the first view is that of an array of eyeballs hung from the ceiling with eyes looking at her. The space also houses many fabric compositions hanging in layers and along the same lines. At the entrance of the space, the mother finds fabric swatches and a marker to write down the judgement they would like to overcome.
Find a Fabric Composition:
The installation is mainly made up of fabric compositions hung at a certain height and distributed in an angular manner. The view from any given point in the space is a perspective into mane more such compositions. The space directs you into walking through the installation to find any fabric composition to pin the message on. At the same time, every corner of the composition also finds an ‘eye’ looking upon the mother. By pinning the fabric, the ‘eye’ catches glimpses of the different messages being pinned.
While each mother puts up a story, the number of stories in the installation increase. There is an archival collection of stories from different mothers who have faced and overcome judgements. It eventually acts as a communicating tool that sends across messages to other mothers. Metaphorically, the view of the eyes are being changed with every addition of a story, hence symbolizing the change in perspective and view. Also considering the face that the installation directs the mother to walk a certain way implies two important things. One, the number of mothers passing through the installation and adding stories adds to the sheer magnitude of the current problem. It also symbolises that in order to get to the end of the problem, set path, however chaotic it may seem, is always present.
Not every mother may have the time to read all the messages or want to read them all at one go. Not every person would be able to keep these messages in mind after they leave the installation. The installation comes in the form of a book with the messages and stories alone. The book would be a takeaway from the installation with one personal addition of either their own message or a picture of having taken part. The book would act as memorabilia and keep a documentation of the stories.
How does Unnoticed answer the research Question?
The research question that this Final Major Project was based on was “How visible is the invisible you?”
Here, the question is directed to the new mothers, talking about the hidden judgements that have been kept away from the harsh and conservative society. The brand urges mothers to rebel against the judgements and stereotypes of the society. The brand opens up a platform for the mothers to break free from solitude, from the constant feeling that she needs to do things a certain way or be worried about facing a mental illness that is looked upon as a taboo.
Understanding how the smallest things can cause major anxiety and suppression is something that is not quite common in the society. While the mothers need to understand that there will be many mothers who could probably go through very similar situations, the society needs to understand the fact that every person is different and they have their own ways of dealing with parenthood. The Brand tries to create this discourse among mothers enough to know that they are not alone.
The Brand answers the question in a metaphoric manner based on the insightful thought from a mother who displayed passive aggression and the need to emote. It understands the need to be open and engaging with the installation.
The Brand imitates the intimidation of the many eyes looking at the mother while she walks past each portrait reading / understanding the magnitude of the judgements. By voicing one’s opinion, the brand believes that there will be a sense of power in the mother. This would increase as she reads the stories of other similar situations.
The solution answers the question with the following metaphors:
1. Eyes facing the multiple faint images of different mothers symbolizing judgements.
2. Mother writing a message on a fabric swatch, pinning it to symbolize empowerment through voicing opinion and change in what the eye sees.
3. Clearer image of mother by attracting attention symbolizing her better visibility after voicing out her opinion.
Unnoticed tries to use simple techniques of self-reassurance to break stereotypes and judgements that have bound them till date.
The huge archival collection of stories from mothers themselves and the engaging experience makes it a key aspect of Unnoticed.
Point of Difference:
There are three points of differences here:
– Archival Data collected through the stories of different mothers making it highly valid and trustworthy.
– The experience created with three levels of engagement making Unnoticed holistic.
– The stories are untampered with. They are real stories as written by mothers themselves. They are engaging and interesting compared to those that try to portray the story from Unnoticed’s point of view.