The Last Thing Our Children Need Is an ‘Anorexic’ DollMeredith Carroll
A new doll called Nenuco Won’t Eat will be hitting toy store shelves in February. Where it won’t be hitting, however, is my home. After a little confusion and fumbling, it is now a house policy to not bring anything in to our home that will embolden behaviors that do just fine without extra prodding.
When my older daughter was around three years old and finally left Barney and Dora in the dust, she turned to Caillou for a little companionship. Since it airs on PBS, I figured, how bad could it be?
As it turns out, it’s bad. Seriously bad. It took a while to make the connection, but my husband and I finally realized she literally learned to whine from Caillou. No, I’m not saying she wouldn’t have figured out how to complain had it not been for a 4-year-old, bald Canadian kid. But she certainly didn’t need any pointers or prodding.
Finally, after her mewling grew to a fevered pitch, I up and gave Caillou the boot. Banned. His presence in our home has since been entirely unwelcome. There are plenty of other cartoons on TV. Not all of them are perfect, but purposefully bringing something into my home that encourages bad habits and behavior? Seriously? No.
It is in that same spirit that this doll — Nenuco — will not be invited to come over and play, either. According to the Daily Mail, Nenuco Won’t Eat, has some kind of a magnet in its mouth that, when you approach it with a spoon, turns its head away.
Apparently, some eating disorder campaigners say Nenuco encourages anorexia. Maybe that’s the case, but you know what else it encourages? A child to NOT eat. Yes, many babies reject food. Some more than others. My daughters are on the opposite end of the spectrum from each other — one eats everything, the other nothing. Do I need both of them to make a game out of summarily imitating a doll that does something I don’t want them to do? Why would I do that? Why would I pay money for something that does that? Why would anyone?
According to The Daily Mail, “the Nenuco Won’t Eat doll’s Spanish makers say she is designed to help children understand the frustrations of normal life and how important it is to eat properly.” Perhaps that is, indeed, the goal. But when was the last time those doll makers were with an actual 2-year-old? You think a toddler is understanding the nuances of that lesson? Or do they see a cute doll, which is also a toy, refusing food?
In their defense over criticism of the doll, which will be in stores next month, the Nenuco manufacturers say it represents “real-life play.” You know what else is real life play? Siblings who fight, but I’m not buying a doll that punches, bites, pulls hair, or slaps, either. Nor will I be buying one that uses potty language or one that refuses to listen when I tell them it’s time to clean up. Just because you can make a doll do something that your kids do, short of a toy that says “please,” “thank you” and “Sure, Mommy, you go ahead and take a nap while I get dinner started and pour you a glass of wine,” why does that mean you’d ever want to?
Photo credit: Nenuco