What are people so afraid of?
When I gave birth to Punkernoodle 2, our first daughter was 21 months old. She was almost still a baby herself. And though my first child was done breastfeeding by the time her baby sister arrived, she was just learning to raise “babies” of her own. Translation: Doll play had begun. And of course, with me sitting around breastfeeding her new baby sister 24-7, what did Punkernoodle 1 learn to do when it was time for her baby dolls to eat? That’s right. My girl didn’t think for a second to put a plastic bottle into her baby’s starving mouth. Of course not. She yanked up her shirt and smacked that doll onto her chest for some fresh-from-the-tap feeding. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world for her to feed her babies that way, because that’s what she saw Mom doing.
We encouraged this type of realistic domestic play, because in our house we believe children should be respected enough to be dealt real-world information when applicable. And the fact is, breastfeeding is the most natural, healthy, green and economical way to feed a child. If you are lucky enough to physically be able to breastfeed your child, you are just that — lucky. There is nothing shameful, embarrassing or sexualized about it. So am I a “lactivist?” Yeah, I suppose I am. When I was running around and my babies needed to eat, you can bet I parked myself at the Starbucks and, modestly but without shame or the need to hide, fed them. And I expect my girls to do the same when their dolls are wailing in starvation, too.
That’s why I don’t understand the controversy about a new breastfeeding baby doll. In our culture, where the over-sexualization of girls and women is a serious problem, where you can go to middle school playground and see kids looking like mini Cosmo-cover models, why is it dangerous to portray or refer to breasts doing what they are made to be doing? How is the act (real or pretend) of feeding a baby more perverted than a 12-year-old in a sequined thong sticking out of her low-rise jeans (or your newly literate 6-year-old having to read the headline “Make Your Man Moan With Pleasure” while waiting in the supermarket checkout line)?
What’s the big deal? It’s just a doll and some breasts-in-training. Get the hell over it, people.