I was forwarded an article today with "what the!?" as the subject. Inside, there was a link to a FOX news article (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,537261,00.html?test=latestnews) which described a "controversial" doll made by a Spanish toy maker that was drawing strong criticism from parents. This doll is made with the express purpose of allowing children to pretend they are breast feeding. It comes with a halter top that serves as a nursing top (but does NOT actually open to show anything besides a piece of fabric with a daisy in the middle) and the doll itself can make sucking, crying and belching noises.
While the email was being forwarded on as an example of an outrageous and outlandish toy it had quite a different effect on me. You see, inside the article there were many assertions including:
"...the idea of breast-feeding is too grown-up for young children -- and may even promote early pregnancy."
"...it could inadvertently lead little girls to become traumatized. You never know the effects this could have until she’s older."
and my personal favorite:
"What’s next?” wrote Eric Ruhalter, a parenting columnist for New Jersey’s Star Ledger. “Bebe Sot — the doll who has a problem with a different kind of bottle, and loses his family, job and feelings of self-worth? Bebe Limp — the male doll who experiences erectile dysfunction? Bebe Cell Mate — a weak, unimposing doll that experiences all the indignation and humiliation of life in prison?"
I could not stop myself. I hit the reply ALL button and began to type:
As a breastfeeding mother and a holistic health practitioner I am APPALLED at this story and the fact that people are upset by this. If my daughter wants to pretend she's breastfeeding her dolls-a completely natural, NOT sexual, healthy, holistic, good for mom and good for baby thing to do why would I stop her? While I doubt that she'll need a special halter top and doll to do so, come ON? A news story over this!? This society is seriously sick.
I am completely and utterly offended by the suggestion that making a doll who breast feeds is the same as making an alcoholic, erectile dysfunction or cell mate doll. I am completely dumbfounded at the suggestion that pretending to breastfeed a doll is going to lead to teen pregnancies. If that is the case why let little girls play with dolls at all...? Perhaps an overly sexualized culture that views girls and women in perversely sexual ways might have more to do with young girls feeling the pressure to and being sexually active... then again that's the same warped society that would get upset if a girl wants to "breastfeed" her doll which (news flash) is the way that babies naturally made to eat - not from a bottle . This is beyond ignorant in my opinion.
I did receive some emails back questioning my judgement. One in particular stressed the age "inappropriateness" of this toy and said that breastfeeding is something only adult women who have given birth should do, so why should a child be able to play at it? To this, I pointed out that a person probably wouldn't think twice about letting a child play with a toy oven, blender, tool set, etc. While the real version of all these things would not be age appropriate, the play versions are useful tools in helping children develop and make sense of how the world works... which is very developmentally appropriate.
Well... what do you think? I may just stock up on these dolls and start handing them out as gifts to the children of these folks :)
Oh, and there's also this:
and so much more!