Jinkies! What Happened to Velma Dinkley?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the summer of 1969- 50 years ago this year. In September of 1969 audiences met for the very first time the truly now iconic Scooby Gang, in the form of a Saturday morning cartoon show. This show, with the same premise, main characters, van and even wardrobe has been on television in one form or another for fifty long years! A favorite of mine when I was growing up, and now a favorite of my daughter’s, I think I have seen every version of a Scooby Doo syndicated cartoon, including the brand new 2019 reboot : “Guess Who, Scooby Doo!”

I am certain I do not have to explain the premise of this cartoon to anyone, one would have to live under a rock not to know the antics of Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Daphne and Velma…but because I have seen so many versions and variations of it ( And am looking forward to the new full length cartoon coming to theaters in the spring!) I have had occasion to observe something much more troubling than the far-fetched plot lines, the fact that these teens are roaming around the country (and at times the globe) basically unsupervised, the fact that we never see them go to school and that it’s quite possible they all sleep in that van together! All of those things can be mildly unsettling but what has been bothering me over and over again as I settle on my couch with Abigail to watch the newest stories (read: recycled plots from 1969!) is poor Velma Dinkley!

Take a look at those photos at the top of this blog…the one on the left is Velma, who we fans know as the brains behind the operation, from 1969. The one on the right is Velma in 2019. For what reason was she given such a “drastic” re-drawing? In 1969 she was adorable; not tall and curvy but self confident, intelligent, and sure of herself. And now, 50 years later she is still written as all of those things, but she’s been given some additional “dialogue” that speaks for itself every time she is drawn. In short, the artists have made her tiny, thinner and way curvier and there’s no way that anyone who has watched the show for more than one season does not know it! My 8 year old posed the question…”why did Velma get so skinny? Is she sick?”

Sick indeed- somebody is and it isn’t the two dimensional brainiac cartoon. Its, as it almost always is, the brains ( or lack thereof) behind the movement that in order to be happy or successful or desirable, women have to conform to a certain body image. Oh, it’s pushed everywhere- on TV, in makeup commercials, in weight loss advertisements that are on every channel and pop up on every internet search engine. It’s in the daily increasing number of diet plans that call out to us on supermarket checkout lines, it’s the home meal delivery kits that are always handed over to some size two, perfectly proportioned Mommy, who looks as if a bowl of lettuce would be enough to satisfy her for days. 

And what do we do when someone speaks out against this? When someone who is not , goodness forbid, shaped like a cross between Kate Moss and Jessica Rabbit hops on social media to promote positive body image for women? Well then, the internet trolls come out in full force- attacking this woman, who is happy with herself and knows that other women need to come to love their bodies and not despise them, as if she has no right to exist because she’s not conforming to society’s definition of what an ideal woman is. Well, listen up cartoonists who took liberties with Velma’s waist size and width…I think I can speak for many women when I say “ We DON’T appreciate it at all!”

Not all of us are meant to be 5’9, with a teacup chest and narrow hips. Not all of us are meant to wear crop tops and low cut jeans. Not all of us are meant to wear strapless dresses, or even strapless bras. And…THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! If God wanted every single woman to be shaped the same, I am sure He would have made us that way. So, why does our culture continue to insist that all women should be shaped the same? Why are you “drawing” us all from the same brush? Why are designers labeling clothes size 6 but cutting them with a size 2 pattern? Why on earth are you taking a classic, if cartoon, empowered young teen- one that girls who were NOT shaped like Daphne Blake growing up could admire and relate to, ( and goodness knows, I’ve ALWAYS been shaped like the 1969 Velma), and giving her what amounts to plastic surgery before another set of youth gets to know her.

Jinkies! It’s enough to make me angry! And it should make all of us women angry- tall or short, thin or curvy, size 8 or size 18, it’s who we are and what we bring to the table that matters! It’s the size of our hearts not the size of our waistlines that matter…and it’s about time all of us, each of us, started saying that aloud, over and over and over again until this seemingly endless body shaming of innocent young girls finally stops!

Ham Or Eggs…

Recently, I’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy via Amazon. It’s so over the top; I doubt I can commit to hanging in there for the 15 (!?!) seasons, but so far I’ve been interested in most of the story lines. As is often the case, while I was watching a few nights ago there was a scene with dialogue that made me stop and think…and ponder the idea being presented for a blog. That’s how inspiration strikes me most of the time—it’s just a question of whether I pause the Firestick and reflect on the spark! ( Some ideas have never grown to fruition- because I am so involved in what I am watching!) This time, ( lucky for you, readers!) I did hit the pause button and think for a bit and then, jotted down some ideas. And over the course of the next few days, they sprouted into a line of thinking that led to this blog. So, if for no other reason, I should be thankful for the good doctors at Seattle Grace for giving me my inspiration for the week! Here’s the excerpted dialogue that led to my thoughts for the week…

Greg: You’re either ham or eggs. You gotta ask yourself in every situation are you the chicken or are you the pig?
George: So its pig or chicken?
Greg: Look you gotta play the ham and eggs. Now, the chicken is involved in the meal, but the pig, the pig is committed, so the question is are you involved or are you committed.
George: Ham or eggs!
Greg: Ham or eggs.

–Grey’s Anatomy, “Let The Angels Commit”

What a great analogy! I thought so anyway. And it made me think of our young ladies in grades 7-12 and their everyday situations. For your daughters, with the myriad of classes and sports and activities they belong to…it is next to impossible for them to be the “pig” in every situation. Most of the time, they have to be the “chicken” and there is nothing wrong with that, especially as they grow and experience new things. 

High school affords students the opportunity to be involved in almost anything they want to try: Glee Club, Soccer, Tennis, Art Club, Student Government, Theater Arts, Softball…the list is seemingly endless. And while one of these activities might lead to a stronger commitment later in life: playing competitive sports, a career on the stage, a future as a political leader, for now these are choices we offer our students so they can begin to learn what makes them feel successful, what makes them feel empowered, what makes them feel like the best version of themselves. And, once your daughters, our beloved students get a sense of what they enjoy being involved in, then they can start to make a strong commitment- to a field of study, to a sport, to a talent. 

And that’s an important lesson for young women to learn while in high school- long before they have to apply it to both matters of the heart and career choices. Hopefully, if they get a sense of what it means to be involved as opposed to what it means to be fully committed when they are young, then they will turnkey that in their life experiences as a young adult- and be able to identify which is which when it comes to following a career path, deciding to marry, and ultimately, what will make each of them truly happy for their adult lives.

If we, as their parents and educators, can model the difference between involvement and commitment; if we can show them that it is okay to choose to be involved in different athletics and activities at different times in their lives; that every first date does not have to lead to an instantly committed relationship- that it’s okay to walk away, then we are doing them a service that will benefit them far into the future. At different times, in different stages of life every one of our daughters will be the pig or the chicken, the ham or the egg. Let’s work together while they are young to show them that it’s okay to be either, depending on circumstances and that each of them will know when the right time comes to make a true commitment: in work, in love, and in life.

Forget Your Troubles…

This week, it is my pleasure to share with you the words of reflection on the theme for the 2019-2020 school year that I shared with the young ladies in grades 7-12 at our Opening Mass this past Friday. I hope you all will “sing” with us this year and forget your troubles, come on, get happy! It’s going to be a year full of excitement and wonder at Saint Dominic Academy! 

Good morning ladies and welcome to the 2019-2020 school year. Those of you who are not new to SDA will well remember that each year, we have an overall theme for our teachers as well as our students. Last year, we took inspiration from the film Moana and made our theme “ Find Happiness Where You Are.” And what a joy filled year it was!

This year, I want our theme to springboard off that idea and celebrate the mindset that Saint Dominic Academy is a place where we come together with friends and teachers and administrators and find ourselves, at different moments on varying days, being truly happy.

 It is easy to arrive on a Monday morning, or depart on a Friday afternoon feeling as if we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. You and I both know well how bogged down we can get in issues both great and small and on those days, our happiness is diminished.

 And, if we cannot be happy, truly happy, for just a few moments each day then after awhile that has an effect on our relationships: with our friends, our loved ones, our parents and yes, even our teachers! What we want, each and every day here is to be filled with joy, to forget our troubles, and to just celebrate whatever happiness, great or small, comes across our desks each day. And so…our theme for the year is quite fitting and even set to music. Each one of us has chosen to spend the upcoming school year together, with each other at Saint Dominic Academy and so, together, we are going to do the following: 

Forget your troubles, come on get happy! 

I’d now like to invite Rachel Perrie, class of 2020 to the front to truly get us in the spirit of the theme for the year. Rachel will sing this iconic song for us, and very soon this year, I hope you’ll all learn to sing it too! 

Back to the Garden…

Father of our HOS, Joe Degnan, a child of the 60s and grandparent today, celebrating 50 Years of Woodstock with granddaughter Abigail and grand niece Regan.

Yesterday was Grandparents Day and this current generation of grandparents surely were busy when they were teenagers. 50 years ago, the summer of 69 saw the culmination of one of those most iconic and turbulent decades our country has ever seen. By the time we hit that summer, peppered with a myriad of historical events, the grandparents of today had spent a decade spearheading change in the United States. From the Selma Bus Rides, to the first African American on the Supreme Court, from the loss of both JFK and RFK to the British Invasion, peaceful protests of the Vietnam war and the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, Abbie Hoffman protesting at the Stock Exchange, The Stonewall Riots and the murder of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr, the list of what transpired during the 1960’s is seemingly endless, all culminating in that final summer of 1969.

The nation and a generation of now grandparents saw the Chappaquiddick and Manson tragedies that summer. They heard President Nixon pledge to finally pull troops out of Vietnam. They watched, breathless on black and white televisions as Neil Armstrong took a “giant leap for mankind.” A genearation that saw the first sit ins take place in 1960, watched James Meredith register at Ole Miss, lived through the Freedom Summer, heard Dr. King speak about his “Dream” for America, saw the founding of the National Organization for Women and the introduction of the Civil Rights Act now saw the seeminlgy impossible- we had reached outside the boundaries of earth and touched the surface of the moon. In a summer where the moon landing occurred, could anything else be as equally culturally significant to the youth of the 1960’s?

There was one other defining moment of the Summer of 69- it took place for three days on a farm in New York. Perhaps many of the grandparents of today were there and even for those that were not, the word “Woodstock” has become over the past fifty years the definition of peace and love. From all walks of life, young adults, not much older than the ones I see in the hall each day, the one who lived through perhaps the decade that shaped our country the most, came together for three days to celebrate. What one belief united them? They wanted a peaceful world, not full of hate and violence and bias, but full of tolerance and openmindeness and love. After all, wasn’t that what they had been dreaming about for 10 years? Wasn’t that what Kennedy and King told them to aspire to, encouraged them to believe in, and rallied them to take calls to action for? 

Perhaps a three day rock concert was not going to change the world, but these young men and women had spent the past ten years trying to change the world for the better, and in many ways they did. ( However, after that 3 day rock concert, I think we can say music was never the same!) At Woodstock and all over the United Sates, people saw each other not as strangers, but as friends. Nobody saw color or gender or any of the labels that create a climate of hate and fear. What the 60’s generation saw when they went all the way to Woodstock was unity.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and young, one of the performers at the legendary concert perhaps captured the spirit best when they sang (in 1970) 

We are stardust,

We are golden.

for indeed we are; every one of us. Filled with light and joy, happiness and love, if only we are willing to let down our guard and shine as brightly as God intended. The over 500 thousand people at Yasgur’s Farm shone brightly those three days and truly embraced the ideals of peace, tolerance and above all love for our fellow man. 

The children of yesterday, the grandparents of today had the strongest message of peace our country has ever seen. For fifty years now, they have lived by those beliefs, have raised children and grandchildren to embrace those ideals and have worked tirelessly to create a better world.

They did NOT do that so a new generation could dismantle it with hate and intolerance and harassment and anger. We ALL, you and I both, need to take a lesson for our Woodstock Generation now, before they fade too far into memory and their ideals become not something to embrace and celebrate, but a one liner for the history books. Their generation created for us, all of us, a world that tried to foster equality and love. Let us not ever ever lose sight of that. The “Flower Children” and indeed all children of the 1960’s created for American a beautiful and peaceful garden in which we were invited to reside. So today, I encourage us as adults and our teenage generation to, as Crosby Stills, Nash and Young tell us “ get ourselves back to the garden”. It’s simple really, all we need to do is follow the path that was started for us by a beautiful and historic generation 50 years ago.