The Australian custom doll maker creates breastfeeding Barbie dolls in a bid to show that nursing is just a typical part of life.
Stay-at-home mom and custom doll maker Betty Strachan firmly believes that the key to erasing the stigma around breastfeeding is education. "It's a completely natural and normal thing to do. There's no other way to put it," the 28-year-old told PEOPLE of her efforts to help the Normalize Breastfeeding movement. "Women were given the amazing gift of being able to carry and nourish children and being shamed for doing so is just wrong." In a bid to show that nursing is just a typical part of life, the Brisbane, Australia, native came up with the idea to create a breastfeeding doll for kids.
Strachan, who is a mother-of-three, revealed that the idea came to her when she started modeling dolls after fellow moms from her parenting support group. "The decision to make a breastfeeding doll didn't come consciously," she told The Huffington Post. "I'm a member of a mothers' group that's comprised of very lovely and supportive women. I remember one day, I was drawing the new face on a Barbie doll, and she just seemed to be the embodiment of the entire group. So I mimicked the positioning of a latched baby with an old figurine I had and called her the 'Mamas Worldwide Barbie.'"
After Strachan posted photos of the dolls online, other moms immediately reached out with requests to make a few for them. "Everyone in my mother's group thought it was great, so I posted [the 'Mamas Worldwide Barbie'] on my Instagram page," she explained. "After that, I received a few requests to make more, and I realized that it was really something that should be available ― because, like most things that society deems unacceptable, educating children is the way to erase the stigma behind it." Strachan also listed the mother and baby dolls and their accessories on her Etsy shop, allthelittledolls, where they sold out in no time. She has also offered pregnant dolls for sale in the past.
"I make a few sales here and there, but it's really only enough to buy the materials to make more and sell them on again," Strachan explained. "Most of the sales I've made have gone to mothers with children, and I've received a few pictures of happy customers playing with their dolls." The doll-maker also revealed how she became a passionate advocate for breastfeeding after facing discrimination for nursing in public as a new mom.
"Like a lot of young mothers, I was already conditioned to believe that breastfeeding in public was something to be ashamed of and shied away from doing so in public," she said. "I remember one occasion when I was out shopping with friends and my oldest who was about two weeks old at the time became fussy. The shopping center we were in was very busy and the parents' room they reserve for taking care of babies was too full to sit and feed there, so I was left with no other option but to do it standing in the secluded corner of a store."
"Even then, the disgusted looks I received from passers-by were quite jarring and marred the experience for me," she added. However, Strachan is optimistic that the stigma surrounding breastfeeding will change as people become more aware. "I think and hope that with time, people will grow to accept that it’s a normal and natural thing," she said.