The makers of this toy, a £34.99 doll that refuses to eat, have been accused of encouraging anorexia. This doll shakes her head and keeps her mouth shut when trying to feed her. The feeding spoon contains a magnet that activates an internal switch, closing the doll’s mouth when attempting to make her eat. The new mothers often go through this, struggling to get the babies to have their meals. But you can get this doll to eat by turning the spoon over and pressing it against her lips.
Eating disorder campaigners declare that it could embolden and normalize eating disorders at an early age and that selling it is establishing a negative example.
The doll named “Nenuco Won’t Eat” is produced by the company Famosa, which makers justify that this toy is actually intended to help children understand the frustrations of normal life and the importance of properly eating. Because it is going on sale in the UK in February, the campaigners express their worries about the threatening subliminal message that will motivate girls to reject food. The policy manager at YoungMinds, Chris Leaman, said: “This doll sends the wrong message to children and encourages them to think that refusing food is normal behaviour. We would not want children to be influenced by this, and are concerned that it promotes unhealthy attitudes towards food and body image.”
The charity Beat, which campaigns on anorexia and bulimia, stated: “Research shows young children are becoming aware of body image at a much earlier age. A doll that refuses food is hardly a good example to them”. Anita Worcester, of eating disorder charity SWEDA, said: “Promoting what is basically an anorexic doll seems unhealthy”.
On the contrary, the UK marketing director for Famosa, Nikki Jeffery, claimed that Nenuco represents the actual difficulties mothers encounter when trying to feed a baby. She concluded: “We know that children often don’t eat what they are given, but the doll is designed to show them how important it is that they eat properly. It is about enabling young girls to have the closest experience possible to being a “real mum”. We are not encouraging children not to eat. The idea is that the child understands the doll is being mischievous and that the child encourages the doll to eat the food, just as a parent does with their child.”
Nenuco doll among 37 new toys are expected by the British Toy & Hobby Association to be sold well this year.