Yeah. You read right. Spanish toy designers are bringing a doll to the U.S. that makes sucking sounds when a child wearing a bra, with flowers where the nipples should be, holds the baby to the sensors. I read about the doll on ABCNews.Com and I was rather horrified by the allegations of what parents thought the doll "could do" to the development of their children and the criticisms the toy makers were amassing.
Straight out the gate let me lay down some disclosure. I am a breastfeeding momma. I am not one of those moms who is militant about if YOU breastfeed or not (although I'd rather you did), but I support and believe breastfeeding is the best for my family. Whilst I hope and pray more women latch on to breastfeeding (pun intended) I respect that some people choose not to do it. I am breastfeeding momma who WILL NOT cover up, leave the room, go to the bathroom, or any other form of ignorant prejudice that is asked of me while breastfeeding. My kiddos would never nurse under a blanket and I stopped trying to force them. YOU go eat in the bathroom.
Ilena Ewen, the blogger at Dirt and Noise was quoted by ABC saying that she thought it "was a joke" and ""There are just things that I think kids are too little to understand..."
Beyond those quotes there were phrases thrown around about "over sexualizing kids" and " lets just let them use their imaginations."
I think it might be one dimensional to assume that children can't understand breastfeeding, that they are too young, or that it holds some sort of potential to unlock sexuality before they are ready. When one speaks of "sexuality" in breastfeeding it should be as the form of biological sexuality that is extended beyond conception and birth. I would argue that it is much like a kiss that is witnessed by a child. A mother and father kissing in front of their child is a form of sexuality and the biological attachment process. Just from the point of semantics, to "over sexualize" is definitive of a process that creates sexual associations for a child. When society says sexual association one would hope they'd think this:
My children play house and "mommy and daddy" and imitate the life they see lived in front of them all the time. My son used to pretend breastfeed his stuffed lamb. He would say, "I am gonna feed the baby now. I am gonna give Lamby food." or "Lamby is upset she needs to nurse." Even at two he understood that the association between the act of breastfeeding and the breast was about nothing other than "eating" and "feeling better." Obviously I am sure this is just my child... I am sure other children see breastfeeding and are all, "HOLY HELL. THOSE NIPPLES REMIND ME OF GETTIN' IT ON!!! LETS GET KNOCKED UP SO WE CAN BREASTFEED FOR REALZ!"
I think this new doll and the reactions it has garnered says more about adults than it does children, as is typical. Children, in my opinion, should learn about breastfeeding and how and why it happens just as they should learn why daddy shaves his face. BUT I am also that mom that doesn't let her kid call their genitals a "va jay jay" "cookie" or any other euphemism that disconnects them from understanding their body. Maybe if we called it "funbag feeding" so as to avoid a child using the word "breast" it wouldn't be a big deal? It baffles me why there is even a dialogue about this! Moreover, I am appalled that there isn't more of a discussion about why we think it is okay to teach children that feeding infants Soy Letichin out of a rubber nipple is a desired option. Breastfeeding should be the first choice over bottle, and a doll like this only allows little boys and girls (yes I said BOYS) mimic their mommas.
And let us not EVEN discuss the allegations that a doll like this could mean directing girls to motherhood instead of pursuing their dreams of career and independence... sheesh! What I am not saying is that this doll is the awesomesauce and very child in American should have one. I just think this Breast Milk Baby doll arriving in the United States should be filed under: "shit that shouldn't be a big deal...."
Now I am off to buy Addison this season's Juicy Couture pants that say "juicy" across her little toddler ass!!!
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*Awful Bikini Kid pic courtesy of SocietyPages.com