Saturday, July 30, 2011

Breast Milk Baby

A new doll that’s coming to North America is getting a lot of negative buzz. And while I admit that the doll kind of weirds me out and I won’t be lining up to buy it for my daughter, I think the controversy over it is just as disturbing.

The doll is called “Breast Milk Baby” and, as the name suggests, it’s designed to mimic breastfeeding. Little kids playing with this doll can put on a halter top with two appliques symbolizing breasts. When the doll’s mouth is brought to the appliques, it wiggles and makes a sucking sound. Afterward, the doll cries until it is burped.

The Spanish-manufactured doll has been successfully selling in Europe for several years, but has only just debuted at a recent Los Vegas toy fair. It is supposedly meant to encourage parenting skills in young children.

The doll comes in six different combinations of race and gender – and with the requisite halter top. Apparently there are flowers for girl dolls, stars for boy dolls. What’s up with that?? A woman’s nipples do not change depending on the sex of the child she is nursing!

So while I’m all for breastfeeding and think it’s more natural to have little kids pretending to breastfeed their dolls than to give them little bottles, I do think this doll is strange. But that’s more my beef with the over-commercialization of things and the manufacturing of toys so as to prescribe the ways in which they should be played with.

But Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has declared the doll inappropriate for children and that it forces them to grow up too quickly. Obviously he has not seen toddlers imitating their parents in housecleaning, lawn mowing, dish washing and yes, caring for babies. Imitating adults is what little kids do – albeit usually with more imagination and less gimmicks.

Some critics are saying it sexualizes little girls, while others that they aren’t ready to think of their bodies as nurturing. The issues seem to be much more about the fake breasts than about the idea of a baby breastfeeding. Shameful to think we’d teach children that breasts are utilitarian and not just objects of entertainment.

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