Idea to Tackle Nurse Stereotyping (1993-1994 version)

Once upon a time (1993-1994), I had an excellent idea on how to tackle structural corporate nurse stereotyping.

Here is the story:

Part One: The Concept (letter & illustration, 22/11/1993)

22nd November 1993

The Manager
Uni Foods Pty Ltd

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am a habitual, albeit irregular, user of Nurses Cornflour – it is a product that enjoys vegemite-like status in the kitchen. Indeed, I believe that most Australians would consider their cupboard bare without both of these culinary icons. 

However, I can not help but notice that the packaging of your fine product is outdated in style, and at risk of being construed as a sexist portrayal of who is responsible for cooking and nursing. In these politically correct times, the packaging of any product requires a considered, sensitive approach, so as not to offend. It may well be that sales of Nurses Cornflour are being adversely affected by the packet’s picture of a pretty sponge-holding nurse wearing a cap.

As a male, as a nurse, as an occasional sauce and gravy maker, and as a person who is becoming attuned to the politically correct ideals of the 1990’s, I believe I am well qualified for the position of Nurses Cornflour model/promoter. I have enclosed, for your consideration, a crude facsimile of how my face could be used to lend Nurses Cornflour a more contemporary, less sexist, image.

I look forward to your response to this proposal.

Yours sincerely,
Paul McNamara RGN SPN MRCNA

I looked exactly like this in 1993

Part Two: The Follow-Up (letter, 15/02/1994)

15th February 1994

The Manager
Uni Foods Pty Ltd

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have yet to receive a reply to my letter of 22nd November 1993 (copy enclosed). No doubt, like me, you have been giving this matter some serious consideration over the last few months.

I am sure you would agree that this presents an exciting opportunity to give the image of Nurses Cornflour a profile that will have it being talked about in kitchens and advertising boardrooms all over Australia. Any notoriety I might receive would take a back seat to the sales figures of Nurses Cornflour: it is the latter that should take precedence when considering this matter.

As before, I look forward to your response to this proposal.

Yours semi-sincerely,
Paul McNamara RGN SPN MRCNA

Part Three: The Gentle Let-Down (reply letter, 15/03/1994)

15th March 1994

Dear Mr. McNamara,

Thank you for your letter and illustration of 22nd November 1993 and subsequent letter of 15th February 1994. Our apologies for the delay in responding to your letter.

Whilst we agree that the illustration on Nurses Cornflour could be modified to become more contemporary we respect the concerns of our loyal customers who have grown to know and love that familiar pack.

Please be assured that the packaging is in no way intended to be sexist or stereotypical.

Thus, with respect, we will not be taking up your very kind offer. However, our sincerest thanks for the time you have taken to write to us. We enclose one of our new Continental Easy Meals which we hope you enjoy.

Wishing you all the best in your career.

Regards
CATHY RODDA
Brand Manager – Dry Meal Bases
unifoods 
A division of Unilever Australia Ltd

Idea

Nearly 30 years on, I reckon it’s time for someone else to have another crack at becoming the Nurses Cornflour nurse. The current version is an update from the 1936 version, yet the crisp white uniform and crisp white hat on a crisp white woman remain. 🙄

Please consider this blog post a lighthearted clarion call to challenge nurse stereotypes. Even if you’re unsuccessful, like me, you may receive a free sample in the mail for your trouble. 🙂

End

The twaddle and fluff above is all there is for this blog post. Stumbling across the old letters gave me a nostalgic laugh today – hopefully you have had a bit of a giggle too. 

Paul McNamara, 12 December 2021 

Short URL: meta4RN.com/idea 

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