New and Improved or Shiny and Shallow?
Why the new Strawberry Shortcake falls short.
Last week, Maggie fell ill with a nasty virus. She took up residence on our living room couch with her favorite blanket and her purple stuffed hippo. I turned on Netflix, thinking I’d let her binge on some cartoons for a while. She’s partial to Mickey Mouse and Doc McStuffins, but I thought it would be fun to introduce her to Strawberry Shortcake. When the cartoon began, I quickly noticed this wasn’t the same Strawberry Shortcake I grew up with in the ‘80s.
The Strawberry Shortcake of old was short, stocky and stubby. She had raggedy red hair that stayed haphazardly tucked under an enormously puffy strawberry hat, large red freckles on her cheeks, baggy clothes, and dirt-stained shoes. She also kept the villainous Purple Pie Man at bay by foiling his kooky schemes and plots to steal berries from Strawberry Land. We’re talking serious problems here people—a real good versus evil storyline.
The new Strawberry Shortcake barely resembles the original, aside from the signature strawberry hat. She’s tall and thin, her clothes are skimpy and tight, and her red hair is long, luscious and flowy. Even her signature freckles are reduced to tiny, almost unnoticeable dots just above her nose. As for the notorious Purple Pie Man, he’s nowhere to be found. Instead, Strawberry and her berry friends deal with “first world problems” on a daily basis, such as a blackout in berry city that puts a damper on their makeover session, and the heavy burdens that go hand-in-hand with being named “princess for a day.”
The new Strawberry Shortcake cartoon isn’t all bad, though. There are little lessons woven throughout the episodes that are important for all little girls to learn—such as sharing, being kind, and trusting friends. But overall, it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s no wonder that young girls today are so concerned about their weight and all of that mess. Even the cartoons they watch have characters with “perfect” bodies, looks and—I hate to say it—a prissy and whiney disposition. It’s disappointing.
The original Strawberry Shortcake was certainly no damsel in distress. She was brave, bold, kindhearted, and determined. She didn’t care about her looks or her clothes. She went on adventures, worked hard in the strawberry fields and put the Purple Pie Man in his place. And she had fun doing it, too.
If I had a choice, I’d have Maggie watch the old Strawberry Shortcake. But unfortunately she’s hooked on the new and sparkly version instead. Did I mention that the new Strawberry Shortcake also plays guitar and has a voice like a recording star?
If the Purple Pie Man were around today, I think even he’d be offended.
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