It’s exactly what you think it is: a doll that breastfeeds. A special flowery halter top with two buds where the nipples should be is worn by your daughter/son and activates the doll’s “suckling mechanism.” Made by a Spanish company named Berjuan Toys, the doll has apparently sold millions throughout Europe and is now being embraced by millions of US women.
We have discussed breastfeeding at great length here on Matador Life, sparking some incredibly intense debates about doing so in public and whether or not breastfeeding is healthy to begin with. But I don’t even feel like this topic is about “sexualizing” young children; it’s more about the fact it’s showing young children (girls, specifically) that this is how it should be. They should be mothers by nature’s right. They should conform to these expectations.
Even the video freaks me out.
Okay, I’m not a mother. I’m nowhere close to being a mother, but I have a mother, and someday maybe I’ll be a mother. But whatever happened to letting your children figure out shit on their own? I realize not every mother is going to go out and buy this doll for their kid, and if the child is all for it, then why the hell not? My fear is that this behaviour becomes engrained in a child’s perception of what’s normal and “right.” Kinda like how my mother wants me to settle down, get married and populate the planet with little red-haired monsters. I’m even being encouraged to buy a car, because it’s what people do. Some people don’t understand life doesn’t have to be like that.
This reminds me of a discussion I once had with some people in a Sociology class about how girls and boys are bombarded by gender roles from day one, especially when every gift and item of clothing they receive is blue or pink. Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, noticed this phenomena when her daughter started preschool and suddenly became a princess. She was served princess pancakes by a waitress and encouraged to sit in the princess chair at the dentist, because it’s what girls do. Orenstein writes extensively about the dangers of everything “pink and princess,” and the extreme divisions that happen between genders when such ideals are encouraged.
Maybe we’re over-thinking it, maybe we’re not. Child psychiatrist Dr. Ned Hallowell actually says it’s no more sexualizing than a little boy watching his father shave his beard, but seriously, does a three-year old need to know how to breastfeed? The doll is meant to teach young girls how to “imitate mothers in a natural, caring way,” but if it’s so natural, why does it need to be taught at all? After all, we’ve been learning “on a whim” for centuries.