I picked up a DVD of Strawberry Shortcake (Strawberry Shortcake meets spring) in a moment of desperation at a Columbia, MD baby thrift store a few months ago. I regretted spending that $8, so I’d like to warn you not to. Strawberry Shortcake is not my ideal role model for Raihana. Her primary characteristic is “sweetness.” The very grownup singing is not just very grownup – it’s annoying (“That girl’s so sweet – just like her name- Strawberry Shortcake.”) Strawberry Shortcake grows strawberries. Her cat is called Custard. Her friends bake cookies and cakes and do other nurtury things, always involving a great deal of sugar. I do not need this with all my other struggles to keep Raihana eating healthy.
But the worst part of the DVD I picked up is Huck. Huck is the only boy in this DVD. He wears his baseball cap backwards. While Angel bakes cakes and Strawberry grows berries, Huck – what does he do for a vocation? He sails all over on his skateboard. And not just that: while all the girls are working together responsibly on planting berries or finding spring clues, Huck and Custard run off and (to the beat of percussion) decide that it’s more fun to indulge in some physical play. Ew.
Instead, I picked up “Charlie and Lola” at Vision Video. What a relief. Not only are they real children, with real childlike fantasies and real childlike grammar. Charlie is the nurturing, patient older brother – a responsible boy – whose happy, imaginative, playful little sister Lola (who is “small and very funny”) has an imaginary playmate called Soren Lorenson. Charlie teaches Lola that peas are really skydrops in greenland and that other food items are likewise a lot of fun. They may have cookies and cakes in there, but I don’t remember any.
And pick up the books – the show is originally a book series, and I wish I could get some of them but all I seem to find is paperback, and Raihana is in Jane the Ripper mode.
So if it’s a choice between the two, I say Charlie & Lola – skip the sugary gender stereotypes.