by REBECCA SPARROW
Sesame Street? I have a bone to pick with you which is frustrating because I’m a bit of a fan.
So there I was last week, sitting on my couch watching Sesame Street with Ava and Fin when a lovely little song comes on about babies. Babies! We love babies in our house… which is lucky since I have one.
But at four-years-old, Ava in particular is something of Mother Hen and loves nothing more than seeing pictures and videos of gurgling pudgy smoochalicious bubs. And saying “HELLOLITTLEBABY HELLOLITTLEBABY” about two centimetres from her baby brother’s face. Like a stalker.
So. There we are, sitting together as we watch images and clips of babies sleeping, crawling, mashing food into their mouths and smiling all pop up on the screen. There are babies in prams. In cots. In their parent’s arms. And there are images of babies being bottle fed. And then the song finished and Super Grover came on and crashed into something yet again (dude, get some glasses).
But while Ava happily went back to colouring-in, I sat there dumbfounded.
Not once did they show an image – even a discreet one – of a baby being breastfed by its mother.
How do you do a video montage of babies being fed and not show a baby being breastfed? I mean, COME ON!
Let me be clear, Sesame Street is a show for which I have great fondness. A show that has talked children through racism, a show that has gently broached the impact of September 11, a show that tackles poverty and cultural differences. And a show that somewhere along the way decided that breastfeeding is ‘inappropriate’ to look at.
When did we all get so squeamish about breastfeeding?
When did Big Bird decide that breasts were ‘rude’?
Sometime in the 90s, apparently. Up until then, the show regularly featured breastfeeding mothers. In fact long-term cast member Sonia Manzano (Maria) breastfed her real-life baby daughter on the show. “She’s drinking milk from my breast,” Maria told the young children around her. And when asked by a small child if that’s the only way a baby can be fed, Maria answered:
“Oh no, sometimes I feed her this way and sometimes I feed her with a bottle … But you know, I like this way the best. It’s natural, it’s good for her and I get a chance to hug her some more.”
That was in 1988.
A decade later and boobs were banned.
I mean if you were going to ban anything on Sesame Street, you’d think it would be The Count because he’s, you know, REALLY, REALLY CREEPY.
Or Cookie Monster because…hello…obesity!
But of course Sesame Street’s behaviour is but a microcosm of society. Frankly, Sesame Street is just behaving the way everyone else is behaving. Somewhere along the way we all decided that breastfeeding was a bit rudey-nudey.