Sesame Street's Maria Breastfed on TV Before Breastfeeding Was 'Cool' (VIDEO)

Sesame Street MariaIf you grew up watching Sesame Street or if you watch it with your kids, this is probably a pretty sad week for you. Sonia Manzano, the actress who plays the beloved character Maria, announced on Monday that she's leaving Sesame Street for good. Manzano has been on the show for 44 years -- a crazy amount of time that seems to have flown by in the blink of an eye for those of us who've been watching for decades. During her run, Manzano earned 15 Emmy Awards as a part of the show's writing staff and shared many memorable moments with her neighbors.

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Probably her most memorable came during an episode in the late '70s when she taught the other characters about breastfeeding. Manzano brought her real-life infant onto the set and breastfed her while she explained the different ways to feed a baby. It was an incredibly tender moment in the show's history and revolutionary for its frank depiction of breastfeeding:

 

In 2015, we're still having the conversation Manzano started all those years ago. We're still trying to educate people about the benefits of breastfeeding and our right to do it in public. We're still trying to normalize breastfeeding for a society who would prefer that we use a bottle for no other reason than to make strangers feel more comfortable.

Through Maria and that small action of feeding her baby on the show, Manzano brought a positive, natural portrayal of breastfeeding to a whole new generation. I'm not a breastfeeder myself, but I am a mom, and I'm eternally grateful for the quiet power of her statement in support of mothers and her beautiful depiction of motherhood on the show.

More from The Stir: What Your Favorite Sesame Street Character Says About You

So, a big thanks to Manzano for 44 fabulous years of such a wonderful character. I will certainly miss Maria's friendly voice on my TV when my toddler watches. I wish Manzano the best in whatever comes next. Now, if someone would just get me a tissue and then tell us all how to get to Sesame Street so we could give her a group hug.

What was your favorite Sesame Street moment with Maria?

 

Image via Richard Termine/Sesame Street

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