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This Doll Sucks: What a Breastfeeding Doll Says About Society?

This Doll Sucks: What a Breastfeeding Doll Says About Society?

From the “I took the bait” file:

Being a journalist, you quickly start to figure out the way things work pertaining to product and subsequent hype. A particular product will be released that holds some trivial interest or inherent controversy and media savvy PR people will push out that product into various media channels and the blogosphere. It will be picked up, reported on, blogged about and invariably become a viral phenomenon for a matter of days. For the most part, these little cultural flares are short lived, provide very little in the way of discourse or illumination, and are generally entertaining on the most rudimentary of levels. I would like to think that I am either too smart or too jaded to really fall for such cynical pandering, but alas it is the middle of summer, and sometimes even my high standards are momentarily subverted.

So with that introduction, meet Bebe Gloton, which translates from Spanish into English to read “Baby Glutton.” This somewhat quotidian looking baby doll (manufactured in Spain and no doubt on its way to world wide distribution and infamy) is remarkable because, unlike other popular synthetic baby stand-ins that eat, cry, and even pee and poop, this one is breastfed, not by you, but by your child. Bebe Gloton comes equipped with baby doll and decorative halter, which is intended for your child (presumably a girl, but by no means does it have to be!) to wear over her chest. The halter has two benign looking flowers where the nipples should be, and when Bebe Gloton is brought close to the bosom blossom, the nursing commences. This particular toy is hardly unique in the respect that it provides little girls (again, little boys are indeed welcome and able to play with Bebe Gloton, as I think it would be an interesting alternative to Transformer robots) the attractive opportunity to pretend to be a mother and indulge those dormant maternal instincts. The truly remarkable and incendiary characteristic of this breastfeeding toy is the participation of the breast (even if it is shielded by a bouquet of flowers) in play, which by many is deemed as far too suggestive and sexual.

Needless to say, the press and the blogosphere has been set aflame with concern, outrage, affirmation as well as mockery. Predictably Fox News (an outpost for reactionary conservativism) has disregarded this toy even before American children have had a chance to let it corrupt them. They claim that the idea of breastfeeding is “too grown up for young children” and may even contribute to early pregnancy. In other sectors the reaction has been dismissive, but more along the lines of too much too soon. While there are a vocal few that view this toy as a positive reminder that breastfeeding is natural (although breastfeeding a piece of molding plastic is certainly not) and that anything that anything that reminds young girls that their bodies are more than just sex objects is something to be embraced.

Personally, when I first happened upon this coverage of Bebe Gloton, I thought it was kind of creepy, but not really any more creepy and unsettling than any other plastic animatronic doll. I don’t find the necessity in this particular item, considering that girls are already deep in play about being a mother as well as nursing their children (take a look at any issue of Mothering magazine and you will see it for yourself) and a toy like this seems to not excite the imagination of children, but replace it with battery operated animatronics. I wholeheartedly believe that American culture has not found its peace with the necessity, or even existence, of breastfeeding. I think the reasons why are so deeply rooted in sexual shame, body image, as well as pervasive social pressures, that it will likely take decades to disentangle the granny knot of puritanical beliefs that hold us back.

As for Bebe Gloton, I could take it or leave it, but then again I am hardly a 7 year-old girl. If, however, it empowers children, engages their imagination (this is where I have my doubts) and redeems the act and practice of breastfeeding, I am all for it.

What do you think? Is Bebe Gloton a worthwhile addition to your child’s pretend play arsenal? Is it too much too soon? Should breastfeeding be something best kept beneath a burp cloth? Are we all crazy?

Read more: Babies, Children, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

71 comments

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12:27AM PDT on Jun 1, 2013

Thank you.

12:26AM PDT on Jun 1, 2013

Thank you.

11:50AM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

Colleen P. said "...its a doll that breastfeeds, not a doll that gets an erection and ejaculates."
It's just a matter of time, Colleen, before the male dolls come out with those features. Now that is scary. Do you think the doll manufacturers are going to be satisfied with birthing and breast-feeding dolls?
As a mother, I say too much too soon.

11:50AM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

Colleen P. said "...its a doll that breastfeeds, not a doll that gets an erection and ejaculates."
It's just a matter of time, Colleen, before the male dolls come out with those features. Now that is scary. Do you think the doll manufacturers are going to be satisfied with birthing and breast-feeding dolls?
As a mother, I say too much too soon.

3:33AM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

interesting idea

2:49PM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

It seems that a lot of people are having the same opposition to the breasfeeding doll as seeing a mum breastfeeding a baby in public!

Why can't folk just accept that it is natural to breastfeed and it doesn't have to be hidden from public view as some shameful act.

If the breastfeeding doll is found to be unacceptable - then why are little girls encouraged to change dolls nappies and feed them with an artificial teat? (which represents a breast nipple!)

I hope that the breastfeeding doll becomes a popular role play toy for little girls as I think that it could possibly dampen down the ridiculous taboo surrounding breastfeeding in public, and become an acceptable and sensible way to feed a baby in the child's mind as they grow up.

Some folk have said that it will attract paedophiles - how exactly?

And that the doll may speed up a child's development - again this is no different to playing with dolls that have nappies, pee, and have a gender.

It won't do any harm at all for little girls to realise as they get older that the breasts they have now developed are not just sex objects - but serve a natural purpose that is not shameful.

Siblings often feel left out when mum is breastfeeding their new baby brother or sister - The breastfeeding doll will enable them to participate and learn at the same time - that it's a really natural thing to do.

7:00AM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

the doll has batteries, and is marketed tword little girls, living in 1st world countries

if there are little girls living in more "bygon era" areas, who breast feed their hand made dolls, we should tell they it is sick?

or do away with kids playing house?

its a doll that breastfeeds. not a doll that gets an erection and ejaculates.

11:20PM PST on Jan 7, 2011

People need to face facts that kids are going to figure out what makes a boy and girl different.
That does not cause children issues in life....bad parenting does.

11:18PM PST on Jan 7, 2011

Who needs a special bfing dolls....just toss out the toy bottles

2:51PM PST on Dec 19, 2010

Do kids really need all these anatomically correct dolls with all their sexually explicit features? When I look at this present sick generation ,and see all those confused,miserable kids who were forced to grow up years before their time,I'm so very grateful for my good old fashioned traditional upbringing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

Thanks for the info

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Hooray!! Perhaps an ad in the paper would have found her a good home instead of abandonment. Easy…

THANK g_d tea isn't dehydrating as much as was thought or I would never get enough water!

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