children, cultural, gender

Strawberry Shortcake and Charlie & Lola


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.


12 thoughts on “Strawberry Shortcake and Charlie & Lola”

  1. You should just buy them anyway whether or not she’s in Ripper mode. They are too good to not read! My little girl has started scribbling, and after the first two instances where she scribbled on a wall and on the back of a chair, I began junmping to attention every time she showed an inclination to draw and provided her wit paper and impressed the point that paper was meant to be written on and walls were not. They do listen a surprising lot, though occasional flights of fancy must be humoured…

  2. Strawberry Shortcake first came out in 1977, and being mostly popular in the 80s. The new take on it, after 2002, has to adhere to some of the old school stuff, otherwise it won’t whip up the nostalgia in women who were children when this first came out and now are power buyers for their own children.
    Charlie and Lola’s first book was published in 2001.
    Obviously there will be a huge difference in the stereotypes portrayed. Most of the cartoons today are more PC than the 70s or 80s, and now, you can’t even watch many old cartoons even as reruns because they have been censored for today’s folks, e.g. probably 90% of bugs bunny cartoons (these are mostly from the early 50s.)

  3. LOL! My oldest daughter was into the *strawberry shortcake* phase not so long ago, she wanted anything that had a picture of that girl. She also likes charlie and lola, I remember she used to watch that show when she was about 4-5 and it was fine, I watched it with her too coz I liked it too. My youngest who is the same age as R loves Elmo. She even calls Santa, Elmo. LOL!

    Yes, it’s true, buying books now for them is just a *waste*, they scribble on them, rip them (that’s happening here and we are trying to keep them *away* from her). How’s Dora/Diego with R, does she enjoy them? My little seems to enjoy them, well, atleast keeps her occupied in the few moments they are on tv. 😀

  4. Try a series that i just learnt about called Pippi Longstocking…
    I am dying to buy it for self and in another year (am i being silly) my nephew might be ready for it…
    I love children’s books soooooooo much.

  5. jane the ripper, huh? musa actually ate the corner off a four-page cardboard alpha-book (you know the baby einstein collection?). last week. the M is mutilated!!

  6. Hehehehe, do they (those with young ones) pour their drinks on the books too??I have that issue here, everything is *water-logged* thus easier to be ripped, especially those hard cover books!!! 😀

  7. I do personally like to watch Charlie and Lola, my refound love for cartoons came with the new BBC Cbeebies channel that shows it and also teletubbies and those overweight extreamly cute aliens in the playground called “widdili woes” or something 🙂 but I agree…Charlie and Lola are the most human 🙂

  8. Assalam-alaikam,
    Fun post. I’m trying to wean my girl off sugary simpery stuff, but Barbie and the horrid Bratz seem to be seeping into her consciousness.

    I’ve been looking for the Charlie and Lola books, they are hilarious and both my 5 year-old girl and 3 year-old boy love them. Just waiting for the end of the winter weather so that I can get them cheap in a boot sale (our version of a summer flea market, but cheaper).

  9. I’m so glad i’m not the only parent who seems to enjoy cartoons and kids books as much (if not more!) than the kids!
    We (my nearly 5 year old and me) recently discovered Charlie and Lola on a recent trip home to the UK from South Africa. It is my absolute best 😉
    My only problem is that her birthday is coming up and she wants a Lola themed party!! Very few people here know what i’m talking about so i guess i wil have to get out the scissors, glitter and glue…………

  10. salams,
    so ya hadiya has a strawberry shortcake video, and I can’t stand it! But i dont think she can stand it for too long either. She prefers Diego and Dora to Strawberry shortcake anyday. I remember loving strawberry shortcake as a child, but then I liked anything extremely feminine in nature…

    I just bought her Chicka chicka boom boom, and I really like it, but she doesnt seem to like it too much…oh vell…

    tis is life..


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