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Scooby-Doo: The curse of the size 8

Scooby-Doo's new mystery threatens feminism and body image among children.
Scooby-Doo's new mystery threatens feminism and body image among children.
Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

The fun-loving children's show of over forty years has gone in a different direction with its newest direct-to-video mystery, an article on Yahoo! Health revealed Aug. 21. The recent "Scooby-Doo Frankencreepy" regales viewers with the gang's travels to Transylvania where they visit the castle Velma inherited from her great-great-uncle Dr. Von Dinkenstein. All the usual chases, clue-searching, and high jinks ensue until Daphne encounters the villain and is 'cursed' with losing the one thing she holds most dear: her small size. The hex turns her from her usual size 2 into ... a size 8.

From a feminist and body image perspective, there are a host of problems with this plot and what it is teaching the young about the thin ideal and what it means to be a woman. First of all, the most pressing is that what Daphne held most dear was her figure. Scooby-Doo may have been written in the 1960s, but the current episodes certainly haven't and hopefully the writers had some awareness about the Feminist Movement of the 1970s. A woman's worth is far more than her image and looks; to convey otherwise to vulnerable children is completely irresponsible. Despite the advances, women and girls are still facing gender inequities and blatant discrimination, especially on a global level. We do not need to start reinforcing negative stereotypes through media for children.

As for body image, this 'cursed' transformation of Daphne from a size 2 to a size 8 is not only ridiculous, but offensive. The average American woman wears a size 14, with more women wearing a size 16 dress than a size 2 and 0 combined and yet our society makes it aberrant to even be a size 8. Additionally, from the picture of Daphne, her bigger frame is much larger than a size 8, thus distorting body image conceptions even further.

Warner Brothers, the production company of Scooby-Doo, has released a statement to the Huffington Post, stating that they always strive for "sensitivity to obesity and self image, especially when it comes to programming made for children and a family audience." They also responded that Daphne's permanent beau, Fred, "didn't even notice a change and ... that she always looks great to him." Fred's acceptance of Daphne, however she is, seems positive, but on the other hand it also implies that a woman's self-esteem, confidence, and self-image must come from the recognition of a man.

Although the end of the movie shows that "Daphne's regular appearance is proven to be a superficial thing, and not what actually matters most to her,"and that what truly matters is the gang's friendship, the damage is already done. Children are sensitive to what they see and hear, and when they are in a media and social environment where they are constantly bombarded with reinforcing negative stereotypes and unrealistic body images, there is little they can do to combat it. The last thing they need is a children's show hopping on the bandwagon and exposing them to weight bias and unhealthy body image and self-esteem.