Changing how the world thinks about nursing

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For Immediate Release:
August 9, 2003

Sandy Summers
410-323-1100 or 443-253-3738

Nurses decry Skechers ad campaign featuring Christina Aguilera as dominatrix nurse

Christina Aguilara Skechers photoAugust 9, 2004 -- The Center for Nursing Advocacy has launched a campaign to protest a new global ad campaign by shoemaker Skechers that features pop star Christina Aguilera as a "naughty and nice" nurse, and over 600 nurses have written to protest the ad in the campaign's first few days.

The ad, which shows Ms. Aguilera in a sexually suggestive dominatrix outfit confronting a patient in a hospital bed, reinforces stereotypes that nurses are sexually available and abusive to their patients, at a time when the global nursing shortage is a major public health threat. The Center understands that the ad will be seen in magazines and retail locations all over the world.

"We understand the comic intent behind this ad, but at this point it's the last thing nurses need," said Sandy Summers, Executive Director of the Center for Nursing Advocacy. "We're working hard to attract talented people to the profession, and to improve working conditions by helping the public understand how critical nursing is to patient outcomes. But this ad exploits both the "naughty nurse" and the battleaxe/Nurse Ratched stereotypes that have plagued nursing for decades. Who would want to attend years of college to join a profession that people link, even subliminally, with fulfilling patients' and physicians' sexual needs? Or with inflicting pain to satisfy nurses' own desires while at work? With this kind of image still around, it's no accident that even today less than 10% of U.S. nurses are men."

"In fact," Summers notes, "nurses are highly skilled, autonomous professionals who save or improve millions of lives every day. Nurses constantly assess patients, and they intervene to stop deadly threats like infections and medication errors." Summers adds: "Studies show that when there are sufficient numbers of nurses to take care of patients, mortality plummets. But today, there are not enough nurses at the bedside, and a lack of understanding by health care decision-makers and the public about the importance of nursing care is a key factor. Harmful media images of nurses affect how people think and act, just as media portrayals of other health-related matters have been shown to do."

Campaigns initiated by the Center for Nursing Advocacy have recently inspired nurses the world over to come together to protest harmful media depictions. Since last year, these efforts have led to the removal of "naughty nurse" advertising images created by Disney, Clairol, Pennzoil and Physicians Formula cosmetics company.

The Center for Nursing Advocacy, founded in 2001, is a Baltimore-based non-profit that seeks to increase public understanding of the central, front-line role nurses play in modern health care. The focus of the Center is to promote more accurate, balanced and frequent media portrayals of nurses and increase the media's use of nurses as expert sources. The Center's ultimate goal is to foster growth in the size and diversity of the nursing profession at a time of critical shortage, strengthen nursing practice, teaching and research, and improve the health care system.

For more information on the Skechers campaign, contact:

Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN
Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21212-2937
office 410-323-1100
cell 443-253-3738