'Peppa Pig' - Not Just For Girls

07/04/2017 11:44

Peppa Pig. If you have children in your life, you may already have formed feelings on this particular little piggy.

My toddler loves her. Right now Peppa is up there - with Thomas, Ben & Holly and Kiva. Me? Officially I don't like my toddler watching too much television. I'd much rather he leaf quietly through a book or play a game using his imagination or practise yoga while I flit around writing a novel or negotiating world peace or... whatever people do when they have five minutes to themselves. But let's get real. I spend my days playing with, feeding and entertaining my two year old until he, inevitably, starts to pine for some cartoon time - "Mammy, I watch Peppa?" And that's OK.

So he watches, enthrawled, in a hypnosis-state of happiness. Sometimes he giggles, often he frowns, most times he just soaks it up trance-like. Often I end up joining him, sitting close to him on the couch. Contrary to what 'everybody' says about little boys and how much they love their hugs, this boy is not a very cuddly one; so TV time allows me the opportunity to sit very close (sometimes he'll put his little hand on my arm) and stare sideways, psychotically, at his little face (his nose is tiny, his cheeks enormous). Ms. Pig allows me this very precious up-too-close-and-personal time where we can have fun enjoying something together; an opportunity which doesn't arise all that often with active, hard to please toddlers.

So we sit and we watch and you could say I've come to know Peppa Pig quite well without even really meaning to. Obviously her reputation had preceded her. So many parents find her interminably annoying, bold beyond reason and irritating in the extreme. Daddy Pig is portrayed as a bumbling idiot, the portrayal of the 'Fox' family is ethnically questionable, and the re-runs? OK, maybe that was funny the first three times, but witnessing Pedro Pony getting lost in the museum for the 17th time? Please, poke out my eyeball now because it would be less painful than sitting through this cartoon yet again.

But can I share a secret? I kind of love Peppa Pig - and kind of love that the small boy loves her too. Why? Well, I've compiled a list to spell out exactly why (don't worry - it's short):

  1. Peppa may be bossy, but so are many, many little girls. It's how so many of us start out - self-assured, all-knowing and in control. I love that Peppa is so confident in her thoughts and actions. So self-righteous and self-important. She's only a little piggy but she has a lion's heart and a will of iron. Go Peppa!
  2. There's a lot of love floating around between those little inky (oinky!) drawings. So alright, Daddy Pig isn't your typical hero - he often messes up and falls short. But he's a fun, supportive, loving Daddy - and Mummy Pig really gets a kick out of him, encouraging and helping him along as he muddles through life. (In fairness to Mummy Pig, she's a lot more patient with him than I would be). He's a flawed character - as so many of us are - but to his family he is the bee's knees, and we cleverly get to see him through a daughter's loving eyes.
  3. It's all pink! The entire cartoon. Pink, pink, pink. In a world where little boys and girls continue to be colour coded, it's just nice to mix it up a bit and prove that a little pink never hurt anyone. The colour pink is so often equated to ideas of vacuous, 'girly' frivolity and a lack of intellect - with Peppa, the pink-ness (and, let's be honest, the pretty basic animation) should be off-putting in the extreme - it challenges you to dislike and pre-judge the cartoon. But I can't. In my eyes it's clever-ing up the colour - it's giving it a makeover and more than a smidgen of kudos.

Here is a central female character - proudly pink - being all self-confident and bolshy. And my little boy thinks she's funny and fantastic. Here's to the next generation. Here's to sharing cartoon time (while you slyly also catch up on your 'What's App' messaging under a cushion). Here's to Peppa Pig.

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Boys will be boys, but a little pink never hurt anyone (photo copyright Laurie Morrissey)

This article first appeared at www.iamlauriem.com

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