Saturday, March 30, 2013

Breast Milk Baby!


Poor Breast Milk Baby is having trouble getting traction in the toy market, even though Bill O'Reilly thought it was creepy, which should have boosted sales in the blue states. What sets BMB apart from the rest of the baby dolls out there is that it can be attached to a child's personal breast region by means of a halter. It snaps right onto little daisies at nipple height and sensors in the daisies produce suckling noises. While Mommy is busy feeding the new baby in the family, the older sister, or brother, can provide the same sort of care for the doll. This is no doubt appealing to a certain sector of young children, and it's probably up to the adults to monitor whether or not the child should wear the dangling babies out on the street like a mama possum. Bill O'Reilly is upset at what he perceives as the early sexualization of the child. (He probably puts "mammal" pretty far down on his list of self-descriptors. And I'm guessing he played with his sister's Barbie in some fashion, probably by himself.)

Staged photo, fake smile.
So Breast Milk Baby isn't doing too well in America, even though there has been plenty of precedent for this sort of thing. The Betsy Wetsy doll goes clear back to the 1950s, when it was Number One on many girls' Christmas lists, leaving Little Chuckie Upchuck and Debbie Doots in the dust. I was given one myself, and can still remember it. You poured a bottle of water in the front end, and it came out the bottom end. I was just old enough to be familiar with the concept of water running downhill and the novelty wore off on Day One. Anyone who thought I would like something I had to clean up after had the wrong girl. My own folks gave up early on getting me dolls. A few filtered in from distant aunts but they were well-neglected. I liked stuffed animals.

So baby dolls in general are probably more appealing to children who have been required to share their space with a real baby. I was that real baby. And I expected to be taken care of or ignored and, in any case, to have no responsibilities whatsoever. My stuffed animals had jobs and personalities and things to do, but they didn't need wiping. The horror! At some point I was deemed old enough to babysit other people's kids, for which I received fifty cents an hour. I was vastly overpaid. As far as I was concerned, I was just there in case the house burned down.

Breast Milk Baby wouldn't have been a hit when I was growing up. Betsy Wetsy came with a bottle and so did most of the rest of us. Mommy was a fully-clothed entity: she had a comfy hourglass figure encased neck to knees in modest cotton. I could see the general shape was different from Daddy's but I was not interested in or provided with much detail. If I search my memory for any such detail, nothing in particular sticks out.

And that is why the painting Daddy hung above the fireplace was so puzzling. One day, I set about to satisfy my curiosity. My neighbor Susie and I together couldn't make it out. She usually had more reliable information about Things Which Must Not Be Said In Front Of The Children than I did, but she was a year younger, so she was puzzled too. The painting in question is of a young, smiling black-haired woman in a red dress. The dress in question stopped short of getting the job done, by my mother's standards. Two smooth globes rose above the top of it. Susie and I had no idea what they were. They looked like little bald heads. We pointed. "Are those her babies?" we asked.

We did not get an answer. We asked again. Still no answer.

Click to embiggen. Any ideas?
The painting was probably a famous one, maybe one in the National Gallery of Art, which was nearby. It can safely be assumed that Daddy picked out the painting. He liked that sort of thing. He liked Sophia Loren. He liked her a lot. After Susie and I asked our question, I'm thinking Mommy liked it a lot less. She might have thought it could only lead to trouble.

55 years later, she's been proven right. Because I've just wasted a ton of time trying to find the painting on line. I've Googled "painting red dress boobs" and have only scratched the surface of the five billion images that came up. Dave's offered to try to help narrow it down, maybe some day I'm off running errands. So there's that.

65 comments:

  1. "If I search my memory for any such detail, nothing in particular sticks out." I shouldn't have read that while I was eating breakfast. Now I've got some desk cleaning to do. I guess "snortworthy" is a worthy designation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, they really came up with a doll like that? I don't know if I like the idea. I don't have any particular moral or political objection ... hell, my parents let me do all sorts of inappropriate things when I was a wee tot ... but it's just creepy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine didn't. Know about. The inappropriate things. I think I did them a favor. Oh, wait, you mean as a wee tot? No, I was pure as the driven snow, then.

      Delete
  3. I recall some kids having "Patsy" dolls. Horrid, squishy rubber dolls that came with bottles and, yes, they pee'd. Couldn't see the point. We trained puppies and kittens NOT to pee on us. Why play with a doll that did.
    I have to admire your husband's willingness to help your research efforts...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't know what your Dad's painting is (and what's become of it?), but here's some evidence that the Breast Milk Baby may not be an entirely new idea: http://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/folk-art/paintings/naive-painting-girl-red-dress/id-f_689739/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My goodness! The child is only eight inches tall and is nursing an adult doll!

      Delete
  5. I shouldn’t have read your post this morning… We have 2 daughters, we tried to rise them right… however, they never had a breast milk baby!

    Now I wonder if we didn’t impede their growth! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they're anything like me, they would not have wanted one. Or known what to do with one.

      Delete
  6. I don't really understand why they need to design a babydoll specifically for nursing. Can't they let kids just use their imaginations? But I was like you - I had little use for dolls and much preferred stuffed animals. (Live babies, on the other hand, I adored and was eager to have a couple of my own.)

    The thing that is most striking to me is that your mother consented to have that painting hanging in her living room. I sure wouldn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't have any use for live babies either. All of that interfered with the ME ME MEness of my childhood.

      Delete
  7. I hate it when I agree with Bill O'Really. It just sets the wrong tone for the day. Got my grump on now for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll try to come up with something Wednesday to get the stink out. Or at least distract you from contemplating where you must have gone wrong.

      Delete
  8. Kids seldom use toys the way adults design them to be used. Do NOT give that doll to little boys!

    Oh...this is a very funny post..thx.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh! Brilliant suggestion -DO give it to little boys and before you can say "faggot" the uber-right crowd will be marketing it as a detector and the loony fringe will probably come up with preacher doll to help them pray for re-gendering.
      rushes off to file patent...

      Delete
    2. Truly. Somewhere a Breast Milk Baby is being used as a pistol or as something to hammer acorns into the ground with.

      Dinahmow, when you hit it rich, remember where you got the idea. Oh yeah, from joeh.

      Delete
  9. I also as paid 50 cents an hour...it was well worth it, I never lost a house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, good point. I didn't either. I think it was just luck though.

      Delete
  10. Good grief, what's next on the market? Dolls you can bury - coffin patch dolls?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aaahh! "Resurrection Rosy" and her sidekick "Crematia!" You can bake them in the oven and then reconstitute the ash into clay and start all over.

      Delete
  11. I'm like Dave. I always do my best online research when no one else is at home. Maybe I can help.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The painting is by the famous Dutch contemporary of Rembrandt, Frans Hals, known for his lively brushwork.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!! I can call Dave off the hunt now, right? And "Frans Hals" does sound ever so faintly familiar.

      Delete
  13. Kids toys that re too realistic are useless as they only do the things that they are designed for and then kids get bored. There is no room for imagination.

    I am waiting for a Barbie - GI Joe combination that actually "does it". (Barbie comes with GI Joe; she just fakes with Ken.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right. Chatty Cathy was a snoozer after the fourth iteration of "we're going on vacation" and "I love you." The dumb ones had way more to say.

      Delete
  14. Yes, Stephen Hayes is correct. That is "The Gipsy Girl" by Frans Hals, displayed in the Louvre. Here is the address: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frans_Hals_008.jpg

    I am at Mom's computer, so am using her Google account instead of my own, as SOMEONE doesn't allow anonymous posts anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SOMEONE is gratified and impressed at the smartitude of her commenters and wished to holy hell she wasn't getting twenty anonymous spam comments a day to tidy up. I stuck with it for as long as I could stand it. Maybe one day I'll sneak it back to the old settings just to see, but by then all my true anonymous commenters will have given up on me.

      Delete
    2. Blog as Betsy-Wetsy doll. See! you did want one to play with after all!

      Delete
    3. Dale, what did you play with as a boy?

      Delete
  15. A breastfeeding doll is an example of sexualisation? Come again? Does Bill O'Reilly know the difference between feeding and sex? If not, his life must be very complicated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On the other hand...when you put it like that...

      Delete
  16. I can actually see how this doll came about. I loved baby dolls that drank and wet, really I did. But I grew up when most babies were being bottle fed, so I was imitating what I saw. Nowadays many, many more babies are breastfed, so what are you going to do for your little girls for whom a nursing mom is the norm?

    I have to agree with Nick, too. Breastfeeding - for the billionth time, folks - is not about sex!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obviously it is for some people, but not people we need to listen to.

      Delete
  17. Yet another failed attempt in the great quest to discover and market the next pet rock.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They'll need to revamp the pet rock to allow it to make crumbly noises when held in the special glove.

      Delete
  18. Ha Stephen beat me to it. I'm not at all surprised.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Truly, it's easier to just put these questions out there for you smart people than to slog through the internet images. Dave, you can quit now. Dave...

      Delete
  19. While I was never a fan of dolls (and wouldn't have liked breastfeeding OR piddling ones) the dolls pram a misguided soul gave me came in very handy in our fruit stealing expiditions in the neighbourhood. My older brothers saw its potential and we were off (and running).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can definitely visualize the running part!

      Delete
  20. Big difference in girls and boys: boys become aware of breast at about age six. I remember in the first grade friends and I were obsessed with what was behind the sweaters and shirts our teacher wore. She was young - we thought she was beautiful - and she had boobs!
    the Ol'Buzzard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dave reports much the same thing. Which will not get you off the hook for living up to your name...

      Delete
  21. Mom got me lots of big beautiful fancy dolls that I wasn't allowed to play with. I would rather have had an erector set anyhow. I still don't know how to play with dolls, but I'm good at erections.

    ReplyDelete
  22. When I was a toddler I called the protuberances on my mother's chestal area "fat tummies". Don't know what my parents thought about this :-P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not at ALL sure I was aware of them. They were well swaddled.

      Delete
  23. LOL I am still enjoying Roxie's comment! She is such a character.
    I had a Betsy Wetsy doll which I fed with a bottle and it would wear a diaper which it would wet and need to be changed. I remember my dad saying, "What will it be next--a Patty Poopie doll?" I think the nipple one would shock him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pretty sure it would have had the same effect on my dad.

      Delete
  24. Somebody gave me one of those leaking dolls when I was a kid, too. Mine was called Wettums. (The name alone is a source of childhood trauma.) Like you, I saw no point in the doll whatsoever, so I built a cradle for it and stuffed in the bottom of my closet. I also babysat a few times before deciding that there wasn't enough money in the world to make it worth my while. But at least I didn't stuff the kids into a closet. That's the extent of my maternal instincts...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine too. But I do remember there was usually a bag of potato chips and soda in the fridge wherever I babysat. That helped.

      Delete
  25. I seem to recall that I left Betsy-Wetsy's wet clothes on a wooden table. After that my mom took away the little bottle, and I stopped playing with the doll. Love your photo cutline; I think most of my family's childhood photos are staged and have fake smiles. We weren't an unhappy lot, but picture-taking was such an ordeal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thinking I needed to have that photo taken in order to send a copy to an aunt, or something. I vaguely remember the horror of this child-sized doll in the frilly dress. Definitely did not play with it.

      Delete
  26. I never thought I would ever hear myself say this, but I have to agree with Bill O on this, that is one creepy doll. In my view, Betsy-Wetsy and Breast-O-baby would be enough to encourage any child to never have children.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's not necessarily such a bad thing, however.

      Delete
  27. I hope my gr-daughters do not find out about this nursing baby doll. They would suck it up to every toy they own, and maybe even have me give it a go.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Murr, with your blog, the comments are as funny and entertaining as the original post! I liked Roxie's comment so much, I'm going to check out her blog next.

    I played with Legos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw man! We didn't have Legos. We did have some kind of red snap-together bricks. And I thoroughly endorse Roxie.

      Delete
  29. After googling those particular words I have to wonder what kinds of ads google is bombarding you with now?

    Dolls that leaked water were gross. Mine was leaking mildew in no time flat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope it's mildew and not a yeast infection.

      Delete
  30. Hmm, so Bill O'Reilly is creeped out at the idea of children learning how babies eat. What do you call a guy with that condition? A boob-o-phobe? Baby-o-phobe? Repressed? Misogynistic? Or maybe just a poor grasp of the facts of life?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He don't know. He just get a funny feeling in his tummy. Sort of how you know gay marriage is wrong because you get the willies when you think about it.

      Delete