Of Dolls and Breasts

Since it is still World Breastfeeding Week, I have another breast-related post for today! I just returned from an annual craft workshop that I attend with my family. One of the workshop teachers and her daughter made this doll—named Pandora—for the “director’s challenge” (make a project using these random items from a bag). I loved her and tried very hard to win her in the silent auction, but her creator outbid me on her at the very last minute! The exposed breast with nipple was apparently very disturbing to some other workshop attendees, because someone anonymously kept pulling the gauze over to cover up the other breast. And, then someone else would uncover it (sometimes this someone was me). Finally, someone actually wrapped a paper towel all across her upper body, so no breasts were visible!

While I do understand this somewhat from a “modesty” perspective, or “there are kids here!” I think it is symptomatic of a real issue with breasts in our wider culture and the very real implications for breastfeeding. What if breasts were just normal? How would our world look? What would happen to breastfeeding rates? Not just breastfeeding initiation rates—which are high, but then fall alarmingly once women leave the hospital and have to face breastfeeding in the real world where many, many people, think a tiny little doll breast needs to be covered with paper towels [what on earth do they think of a real, human-sized breast with a baby attached to it?! Horrors!]—but breastfeeding rates at 6, 12, and 18 months?

I think breasts are cool, so I was kind of annoyed by this little back and forthing with the covering of the doll breast during the workshop. However, it also reminded me WHY (when removed from my personal little breastfeeding/woman-celebrating subculture), people get hung up on breastfeeding in public, etc. Because a large majority of people think breasts should be hidden tidily away (unless selling beer or music or any number of things—then it is okay to show quite a lot of breast—but, no nipples please!). It was then that my attention was drawn to my large collection of pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding/goddess pendants and I realized how very many of my pieces of jewelry have breasts (many with nipples). Sorry to offend, Mainstream Culture, but I still think breasts are cool and worthy of jewelry-celebration (both as fabulous baby-feeders as well as just respecting/honoring women’s wonderful bodies—not as sex-objects, but as life giving, miraculous creations! How would our whole world change if everyone viewed women this way?) and I’m sorry that so many people oversexualize them to the extent that a nifty little doll like this has to be covered up with paper towels! I still wish I would have won her, but photos will have to do!

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