Margaret Eby
Updated July 31, 2014 9:23 am

A new item at Toys “R” Us is causing a kerfuffle on social media. The You & Me Mommy Change My Diaper doll, a plastic baby that cries when it “wets” its underpants, became the subject of controversy after shoppers discovered that, unlike most toys, the baby is anatomically correct. It is a male baby, and thus sports an unobtrusive plastic penis rather than the smooth-down-there doll parts most manufacturers elect to use.

Parents took to Facebook to protest the addition of this explicit detail on the plaything. “Little girls should not be shown that on dolls,” one commenter wrote. “The company makes me sick.”

But it’s unclear why, exactly, it should be so offensive for children to encounter a completely non-sexualized body part that half the population have. On SheKnows, Monica Beyer wrote that she’d rather explain the allegedly offensive part of the doll to her daughter than have it edited out.

“It’s concerning that parents are so uncomfortable explaining a new or different body part that they’d rather keep babies blank or under wraps,” Beyer wrote. “The bottom line is that, while you may not choose to give your child an anatomically correct baby doll, parents should have the option. The doll isn’t harmful. What’s harmful is the notion that a baby doll is disturbing or sexual because it has a penis.”

Salon’s Jenny Kuntner backs this claim and points to research that suggests anatomically correct dolls can help kids “develop a positive body image and self-esteem.”

Body shame is so engrained, so deeply and so early, that sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint. Parents should have the option of fighting it early, and there’s nothing unnatural about that.

(Featured image via Shutterstock)