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!