Should there be more boobs on Sesame Street?

Alex writes about how depictions of breastfeeding have changed on the classic kids' TV show

Buffy Sainte-Marie breastfeeds her son Cody on Sesame Street in 1977

Did you know there used to be boobs on Sesame Street? Yes, that was the norm in the ’70s and ’80s when referring to babies and eating. They breastfed (and bottle fed), and when babies nursed it was unremarkable. It was how things were and it was no big deal, as it should be.

But somehow things changed and breastfeeding stopped making an appearance on Sesame Street, according to this post by Lani on the Boobie Time blog.

She contends that having babes nursing with their moms on a kids’ show will help normalize breastfeeding and reverse the mistaken belief that breastfeeding is at all sexual. I agree. The more straightforward representations of nursing we see in the media, the healthier attitudes will be. We have a long way to go. Moms still get shamed for breastfeeding in public. Recent examples include the treatment this mom got at a Target in Houston and NASCAR racer Kasey Kahne’s hurtful tweet about how he thought it was “nasty” when he saw a mom nursing in public at a grocery store.

Lani from Boobie Time posted three videos from older Sesame Street episodes that feature breastfeeding. I’ll share my favourite. It’s singer and artist Buffy Sainte-Marie explaining nursing to Big Bird while breastfeeding her son Cody in 1977. It’s so sweet. I love how she talks about how she gets to hug him when he’s breastfeeding and Big Bird’s reaction: “You know, that’s nice.”

I’d seen this video before, and remember being a bit surprised by it. I was a ’70s kid (let’s just say Cody and I are contemporaries) and I don’t remember seeing babies being breastfed. It’s refreshing to watch.

Do you think there should be more boobs on Sesame Street? If you feel strongly about it there’s a petition to get Sesame Street to do something about it.

On a related note, I also thought I’d share this article about Leonardo da Vinci’s representation of breastfeeding in his Madonna Litta. Yes, 500 years ago it was cool to paint a woman happily nursing her child. Seems we’re going backwards, not forwards.

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