What has happened to our culture over the last thirty years to make us so anti-breastfeeding and anti-breast? Take a look at this 1984 video from the well-loved pubic television children’s show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, that gently and logically introduces children to the concept of “what’s the first thing people eat”, as in, when they are babies. The answer to this question begins with fluffy kittens, playful goats and rooting piglets hungrily pulling on their mother’s nipples before moving into a close shot of a human mother’s nipple being moved in and out of her baby’s mouth at the 4:06 minute marker.
The first part of the video is spent with Mr. Rogers lulling us into a trance with his opening song and comforting dressing down ritual before introducing his childhood “ventriloquist’s dummy.” He kindly shows children who may be freaked out by the dummy that, despite moving eyes and lips, the dummy is not real, but is made to appear real by hand controls in an opening in his back. The segment is titled, “Mr. Rogers Talks About FOOD” (their caps) and really begins at the 2:44 minute marker when Mr. Rogers initiates the breastfeeding segment by saying, “The first thing a real person usually feels is hunger.”
Fred Rogers, a Pittsburgh Presbyterian minister, founded and hosted the show from 1967 to 2001. The show no longer runs on television, however, children can still view the well-loved show online at PBS’ website, where notably, the breastfeeding episode does not appear in their line-up.
Would Facebook bust Mr. Rogers for this video today? Would PBS be sued for showing children pornographic imagery? Would the formula companies do a little dance at the thought? Probably. Re-post this video at your own peril on Facebook, who has been known to take down graphic images of breastfeeding, just not artificially engorged images of breasts in sexually suggestive poses.
Do you know of any other children’s shows that would promote breastfeeding in this way today?
Feel free to share your insights below on what you think has happened in the last thirty years that a public television children’s show considered human breastfeeding wholesome and normal enough to deem it worthy of presenting as educational entertainment to family breastfeeding photos being banned on today’s social media and and the act itself frowned on in the public square.
Don’t forget to find your local Big Latch On this summer to take action to promote breastfeeding in your town!