I'll admit- although I had heard about the doll, and scanned a couple of blog posts and articles about it, I wasn't too concerned about all the hype. That is until I turned on my radio this morning. I was driving home from the DPS(such a lovely way to spend a Thursday morning), and the radio host just happened to be talking about the breastfeeding doll. Of course I turned the radio up right away, and what I heard infuriated me.
First of all, he said that the doll was encouraging young girls to be promiscuous, and that in a sex-crazy world we don't need one more thing promoting sex. Then he went on to say something like, "What next- a pair of dolls that can have sex with each other?!?!"
I couldn't believe my ears! This idea that breastfeeding has anything to do with sex just boggles my mind! Breastfeeding= feeding a baby. There is nothing sexual about it! I agreed with the radio host on one point- our American culture is oversexualized. Girls are being exposed to sex and sexual messages much too early. There is entirely too much pressure on young girls to conform to the sexual images that are being forced upon them. But breastfeeding has nothing to do with this problem! When a young girl sees someone breastfeeding, or pretends to nurse a doll herself, she's not learning about sex or that she should show off her breasts. Quite the contrary. She learns that her breasts have a function and a purpose far beyond providing sexual stimulation- she learns that they can one day nourish and comfort her children.
After that mind-numbing comment from the host, someone called into the radio show, and said that the breastfeeding doll was forcing girls to grow up too quickly, and to take on adult responsibility. Really? Is feeding a baby doll "taking on adult responsibility"? I wonder if the caller would feel that it was an inappropriate adult responsibility if the girl was feeding her doll a bottle? Or what about changing a doll's diaper, or cooking "dinner" in a play kitchen, or dressing up like a fireman and going to "work"? Are these not all adult responsibilities? This is how children play. This is how they learn- by mimicking adults. They pretend, practice, and learn skills that will help them become successful adults. Acting like an adult in a play scenario does not mean that a child is taking on adult responsibility. So why are we uncomfortable with it when it involves breasts?
I think this is the real issue here- that people are uncomfortable with breasts. People are uncomfortable seeing breasts being used for anything other than a sexual purpose. Our culture has become so oversaturated with the sexual image of the breast that it has become nearly impossible for some to see the breast as anything but a sexual object. But the reality is that breasts have a dual purpose. Yes, they are an important part of sexuality. But their primary function is for nutrition- not for sex. Luckily for our husbands, the amazing breast can do both! Most other parts of the body are also dual purpose, and although our hands, mouths, and eyes can also be sexual, we're not uncomfortable using them and seeing them be used in the other capacities in which they function so well. And it should be no different with the breast.
I will admit- I think the doll is odd. Okay, not so much the doll, but the vest with the flower "nipples". Personally, I just don't like it. I think it makes breastfeeding seem a lot more awkward than it needs to. But I DO like the idea of a little girl playing make-believe and nursing her baby doll. That can be done with any doll! No need to spend $89 on The Breastfeeding Doll with the funny flower nipple vest. But let's please remember the messages we're sending our daughters. We need them to know that their breasts are nothing to be embarrassed about, and yet nothing to be ogled either. Girls should feel confident in the fact that their breasts will have an exceptionally important job to do someday- to nourish and comfort the children that they will bear. And that is nothing to be ashamed of.