Pretend Breastfeeding: The Over-Sexualizing of Young Children

I'm sure that you've heard by now that Facebook temporarily banned Lauren Ferrari, a blogger and Facebook user, for uploading a picture of her oldest daughter pretending to breastfeed her youngest daughter.  I think it's the most crazy thing that I've heard.  A child pretending to breastfed is sexual?  It's child pornography?  Unfortunately I'm not surprised.  If in some people's eyes a mom breastfeeding is sexual, then what is a child pretending to breastfeed?

Western society has already over-sexualized young children.  Manufacturers are making push up bras for young infants.  Children now have bikinis instead of the one-piece swim suits that I wore as a young child.  Granted I'm not sure if this is meant to sexualize a child or make the child feel grown up like their parental counterparts.

Not too long ago, the Obama administration got into hot water about its use of language.  The Health and Human Services site used the word “masturbation” to describe normal healthy self-exploration.  The language offended so many people that the HHS took the wording down.

It begs the question of whatever happened to enjoying cute huggable kissable children?  Have we moved so far that now even a child imitating what he/she sees is considered pornography? Or is the real issue that our mothers pasting a “in the tub” photo in our family album is different than posting a photo of a child pretending to breastfeed on Facebook?

Child pornography laws stipulate that in order for a naked baby photo to be considered pornography there has to be something sexual about it.   However, for pedophiles anything about an under-dressed child is fodder.  I don't think that Facebook should have banned the photograph because of it's content.  However, I think that all parents should be cautious about what they post to protect their children.   Maybe I'm a bit extreme, but the only pictures I post are old ones or ones where my children's faces are covered.  I realize that once the picture is out there anyone can see it.  Facebook, despite being a community, is still very public.

Don't misunderstand me.  While I think the picture is perfectly fine, my concern is with anyone who thinks it's something more.  This includes Facebook's interpretation of picture as well as any pedophiles.  A child pretending to breastfeed is not child pornography.

I suppose my point is that it's important to protect children from predators and from making them into sexual beings on par with adults/teens, but it also makes a parent's job harder and more restrictive.  Children are cute cuddly beings.  If a woman's breast shows on a breastfeeding photo or a topless man mows the lawn, what's wrong with a little kid standing in a picture in just their diaper or pretending to breastfeed their sister?  None of those things are sexual.

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Laura Weirich
Laura Weirich has been married for four years and has two sons. She's been breastfeeding for nearly two years and currently tandem nurses her toddler and infant. A big proponent of breastfeeding, she's been educating her friends and family about the benefits of breastfeeding and helping other women along the way. When she's not nursing, she chases a toddler all day, washes cloth diapers, tries to catch a few zs and reads up on the latest research about children.

4 thoughts on “Pretend Breastfeeding: The Over-Sexualizing of Young Children

  1. A child mimicking a natural, healthy act that she sees at home is somehow a problem? What about little girls who pretend to bottle-feed their dolls? The “problem” is that our society has vilified breastfeeding so that little girls don’t see it growing up, and never learn how to do it. How sad.

  2. I have not seen the picture, but I cannot imagine it is anyway sexual. I was banned in 2008 from facebook and in that time read the rules (Yes, i know you are suppose to read them first) to be honest I think they are quite shocking. I did get allowed back onto Facebook and rejoined for awhile, but felt I could not be part of a company who I disagreed with so strongly. I quit facebook foever awhile back. I’d rather not give up on my ethics just to be part of social media

  3. I don’t agree with the picture being taken down for that reason either. How are children supposed to learn to take care of their young ones one day if they don’t mimic their parents? Breastfeeding is one of those acts that is not sexual and is very healthy for babies. So I don’t see any problem with a child mimicking it.

    I do also love your comment about the bathing suits for little girls! My husband and I feel very strongly about the topic and are supporters of one piece bathing suits for young girls. We figure by the time our daughter is 15 or so she can get her first bikini, just like I did. And it will be conservative – if that is even possible then!

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