In case you missed the news, on August 19th a new Scooby Doo video came out that has created quite a stir in the arenas of body acceptance and media messages about beauty.   It should come as no surprise that a cartoon can be a vehicle for sending messages about fat shaming, and body image. In fact, they have an illustrious history of  fat jokes and reinforcing negative stereotypes of fat people by endowing lazy, gluttonous, stupid, and pathetic personalities to the fat toons. (Wimpy, Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson, etc.) With the exception of Bouncing Boy, super heroes were all predominantly “perfect” physical specimens and the thinner cartoon females were presented as superior and prettier.  I still vividly remember how envious I was of Wilma Flintstone’s body when I was a kid. Can you believe that???  My body hate was so enormous that I was jealous of a cartoon!!!! And had I been younger when the Scooby Doo cartoons hit the screen, I

Jealous of a Cartoon!

Jealous of a Cartoon!

probably would have been jealous of Daphne, the thin, popular, sexy, redheaded member of the Mystery Gang whose beauty overshadowed the more brilliant but stockier spectacled nerd-chick, Velma. But things have changed a bit since my childhood.  When Disney’s Epcot Center’s exhibit Healthy Habits attempted to fat shame kids via the new digital technology; it was protested so vehemently that the opening of the exhibit was postponed until they made some major changes. And now the appearance of Scooby Doo:  Frankencreepy has been met with more Scooby Boos than Scooby Yays and not just from the size acceptance community or fat-o-sphere, but in the mainstream media as well. The cartoon in question is based on the storyline that  Velma has inherited a castle from her great-great-uncle Dr. Von Dinkenstein. The gang gets cursed by the bad guy and each one loses their most valuable possession. In Daphne’s case, she loses her “vixenesque” figure by going from a size 2 to a size 8. The sighs over her size are heart wrenching wails of despair…what could possibly be worse in her life than this??? But as you can see in this clip, the size 8 is portrayed as something closer to a size 28.  Not that the number per se matters. The point is clear that she is horrified that she is no longer thin and equates her fat body with losing “her looks.” Ragen Chastain author of the blog, Dances with Fat, describes this brilliantly in her blog post, Scooby Dooby Don’t where she points out that this mind set of Daphne’s reinforces the notion that if you are fat, you can not possibly be attractive in any way. And this lack of beauty is tantamount to apocalyptic horror! For Daphne, the fat and the fat alone is enough to be the WMD of her universe. And here is where people have divided into two camps of reactions to the flick. The Scooby Booers are questioning why the writer, whose intentions may have been completely admirable, chose to use a fat body as a symbol for the curse of ugliness and superficiality.  One quote that has been making the rounds about this aspect of the story is by Tom Burns who writes the blog, The Good Men Project,

“It’s sad to think that my daughter can’t even watch a cartoon about a dog solving mysteries without negative body stereotypes being thrown in her face.”

The Scooby Doers at Warner Bros. explain that because Daphne learns that her appearance isn’t the most important thing in her life and her attachment to her looks is really superficial, then viewers will walk away with that message.  Other supporters who are not affiliated with Warner Bros., are asking the naysayers to

Velma's "babe bod"

Velma’s “babe bod”

lighten up because at the end of the day it is just a cartoon. And I really want to agree with them. But I can’t. What I can say is that the stereotyping of bodies isn’t confined to just fat bodies.  Why isn’t anyone making a big deal about Velma’s new bod? When she loses her logical sane brain and becomes a mad villainess, her body morphs into a stereotypical “hot babe”.  Isn’t that an inappropriate body image message to be sending? Yes it is and in the Scooby spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t yet watched the whole movie, so I can’t weigh in with complete validity…I did watch several clips of the movie including this trailer which triggered another reaction from me re: body stereotypes.  Here is the clip, see if you can guess what I found troubling. Did you catch it?  In the trailer it seems absolutely fine for Scooby and Shaggy to binge eat on cookies and talk about how hungry they are because they haven’t eaten in twenty minutes. I know it is out of context, it’s just a trailer…but the feeling I got was that it was cute, adorable, and funny that they have such insatiable appetites.   It’s fine for them to constantly eat and be obsessed with food because it doesn’t show up on their bodies as fat. They can celebrate their natural size and honor their natural appetites because there is no weight gain.  How different would those food scenes be if the characters were drawn as fat? In the end, I would like to take an optimistic view and hang my hat on the hook of progress. The mere fact that The Daily News, The Examiner, Yahoo Health, Today Health, Entertainment Weekly, Common Sense Media, Huffington Post, and several other mainstream media sources are questioning the presence of fat shaming in Frankencreepy is a step in the correct direction. I would love to hear some of your thoughts about this.  Do you notice more of a mainstream awareness and/or distress about the body shaming messages in our entertainment media?  Do you think a big deal is being made out of nothing? Do you think that this may be a good vehicle to teach the concept that over attachment to superficial appearance is not a great choice? Til Next Time! Dr. Deah:  Author of Dr. Deah’s Calmanac HWW-fitwoman-badge-largeWEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014wego badge 2illuminating-blogger-awardblogging-badge

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