Time Magazine Promotes Moms Demanding That Breastfeeding Be Shown on 'Sesame Street'

It apparently wasn’t edgy enough for “Sesame Street” to plan a segment where a scantily clad Katy Perry flirted with Elmo the Muppet. Now Time magazine’s "Healthland" blogger Bonnie Rochman reports that those “progressive” breast-feeding advocates want the whole breast. They are “lowering the boom” with a petition demanding Sesame Street return to PBS Seventies-style, insisting four-year-olds need to see videos of breast feeding (perhaps with celebrity moms like Natalie Portman, they suggest). The principle is fairness and balance between the pro-bottle and pro-breast sides – as if PBS has balance anywhere else on the schedule.

Why? Do tots need to start getting La Leche League propaganda before they attend kindergarten? What next, contraception lectures for the children? Talk of genital mutilation of girls in Africa?  Wouldn’t it be more effective to show breastfeeding to grownups, perhaps on the PBS NewsHour? Time reports:


Coming on the heels of a well-attended national “nurse-in” that sought to normalize breast-feeding in Target stores, NIPers are now lowering the boom on Sesame Street. Apparently a generation ago, the kiddie show incorporated tasteful shots of nursing mothers who explained that “lots of mothers feed their babies this way” and that breast milk was “warm and natural.” More recently, however, when a baby gets fed on “The Street,” it seems to be courtesy of a bottle....That doesn’t make for particularly sunny days. And it’s prompted more than 5,600 people to sign a petition to “bring breastfeeding back to Sesame Street.”

As the authors explain:

Back in the 70's and 80's nursing was tastefully shown on the show but now they have replaced their nursing videos with bottles. Please note… We are not asking Sesame Street to remove bottle feeding. We are asking that both ways of feeding babies be shown as normal.

If we normalize breastfeeding in our community, especially with our children, we can help raise a generation of breastfeeders which will support our economy, make for healthier children and lessen the risk of breast cancer for many nursing mamas!

These activists demand that "children should witness breastfeeding in public." There's nothing wrong with breast-feeding as a health issue, but there is a problem in the exposure of breasts in public -- and especially on television. It's simply unnecessary to provide a "balanced" medical program on lactation and weaning to children in between teaching them letters and numbers. Have these activists sell their ideas on college campuses, where the target audience is at the proper age for persuasion.

Sesame Workshop VP Sherrie Westin doesn’t want to upset the progressives: “There has never been any edict to remove breast-feeding from the show,” says Westin. “We have included it and absolutely would include it again if it were a natural part of the storyline.”

Rochman promoted people who posted comments in support of the petition, including Candice Fisk: “No one I knew growing up breastfed their children. The first time I ever saw breastfeeding was on Sesame Street as a little girl. I thought it was a beautiful thing to be able to do as a woman. It may be the reason I first thought to breastfeed my own children.”

So Fisk actually believes little girls will be convinced several decades in advance to pursue natural breast-feeding when they become mothers. Rochman clearly favors this campaign, promoting the operator of the Boobie Time blog:

Still, blogger Lani Michelle, who first publicized the old-school Sesame Street videos of nursing — which feature both interested children and a very curious Big Bird looking on — would like Sesame Street to return to the golden era of the 1970s, when she says breast-feeding was part of the original “You’re My Baby” video. Two decades later, she says, the boobs were scrubbed in favor of a bottle-feeding scene. “Why not have both?” she asks on her blog. “Babies are fed both ways, aren’t they? Women breastfeeding are the images we want to show to our sons and daughters so that they will view a woman’s body [as] more then a sexual object.”

Michelle is no producer, but she’s got a suggestion for Sesame Street: what about asking a pro-nursing celebrity to do the honors? Bettina Forbes, co-founder of Best for Babes, which seeks to break down barriers to breast-feeding, is all for that. “Now would be a good time for a currently nursing celebrity like Natalie Portman or Keri Russell to volunteer to appear on Sesame Street,” says Forbes. “We need Hollywood to help beat the Booby Traps and change our culture. After all, if George Clooney could make a Prius sexy and Michael J. Fox can raise millions for Parkinsons, imagine what Beyonce could do for breastfeeding!”

Boobie Time even loves it when the little boys practice breast-feeding.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis