huh i don't remember mama bear being such a nasty bitch

I loved the Berenstain Bears growing up. Who didn't? My all-time favorites, were, in no particular order:

1. The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room

Who could forget the miraculous, HGTV-style before-and-after glory of Papa Bear's peg board and toy chest, transforming the cubs' cobwebbed shithole into an IKEA catalogue page?

2. The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear

I feel you, Sister Bear. I too taped together yards and yards of pages for my Christmas list. But yo, wtf is Giggly Goo? 

3. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food

Choco-Chums, Sweetsie Cola, Yum-Puffs and Sugar Balls! These are, btw, all nicknames that I have given to various boyfriends.

Yes, I now see that the Berenstain Bears are a little sanctimonious, a little too pat, a little eye-rollingly saccharine at times. But you know, I still have a spot in my heart for this pious, ursine foursome.

So imagine my delight when I discovered a copy of Too Much Junk Food at the consignment store for $1.50. Score!

I got it home and sat down to read it to Chicken, with yes, I'll admit it, a whole brimming buttload of zeal. I couldn't wait to see that page where Dr. Grizzly shows the cubs what a bear's body looks like on the inside.

Fuck, you guys.

This book has NOT aged well.

Let me just give you the play-by-play, as it reads to my adult brain.

One day Mama Bear notices that her kids are getting chubbier.



So she rips their food out of their hands and makes a snarky joke about how they're growing from side-to-side as much as up-and-down.


HAHA! GOOD ONE MAMA BEAR! That will definitely not puncture Sister Bear's fragile self-esteem and haunt her for years to come every time a barista asks if she wants a brownie with that skinny sugar-free vanilla latte. "Oh, no thanks, haha, I don't want to grow side-to-side as much as up-and-down!" jokes a now-30-year-old Sister Bear who just can't understand why she hates herself.

Then Papa Bear comes in and is like, "your mother is absolutely right about you kids making poor choices. BTW, where's my junk food?" and Mama proceeds to make this face for the next four pages.



BLAH BLAH BLAH I don't eat sweets because nothing is more delicious than being better than you


BLAH BLAH BLAH Watch as I sew up the pants you busted with your fat ass, Papa Bear


BLAH BLAH Try this, it's called "water."
(which, btw, is actually exactly what she says on this page.)

Then Mama Bear takes the family to the grocery store and makes another insufferable "I'm better than all of you" face, while the three little pigs make pervy yum-yum faces at a display of snacks, betraying their weak wills and disgusting appetites, and their pathetic weakness for salty, sweet, fizzy treats that are fucking designed to be delicious and addictive.



Then Mama Bear runs into Dr. Grizzly, who's like "Wow, you're buying bananas? I'm buying bananas! You're such a good person, Mama Bear!" and she's like "THANK YOU for noticing and yes I am, but check out those fat-asses who are definitely not shoplifting that candy over there." Mama Bear has definitely not alienated her family with her snarky jokes and judgment. They are definitely not sneaking around and hiding from her because they feel ashamed for wanting candy, which, as I've already said, has been made fucking tasty as hell through the miracle of science. And turning candy into a forbidden temptation will definitely not make it irresistible. The Bible taught me that.



This page is still awesome.


The family sits through an informative lecture about the body and nutrition. The cubs say "Wow!!!" like fourteen times. Dr. Grizzly makes sure to pinch Papa Bear's fat real quick to make sure he knows what a useless piece of shit he is.



HAHA! Good one, Dr. Grizzly! No, pinch him harder so that he knows what shame is, so he cries and wails and his children laugh at his humiliation. HAHAHA!

Oh, also, exercise! 



Oooooh no, not you Mama Bear. You don't need to exercise. You just kind of stand on the sidelines with your pocketbook. You don't participate. You just supervise. You're better than that. You're better than them.

Of course, everyone is happier and healthier at the end of the story, thanks to Mama Bear and her nuts, raisins, carrot sticks and apple slices.

But then Mama Bear makes this face.


OHMYGOD I WANT TO SLAP HER
or just eat a whole chocolate cheesecake in front of her

I support good food and exercise. Just today, I was like, "Chicken, you have to finish your Nutella toast before you can have more disco fries."

Seriously, I care about eating good food and keeping your body healthy. It makes me proud when my son asks for berries or cheese or snap peas for a snack.

But I hate how this book doesn't acknowledge that treats should have a place, too. The total abstinence from any indulgence is not only joyless, it's completely impractical. I'm not just saying this because we're 1 week off of Halloween. Kids are going to have sweets and treats from time to time. This book sets up an unrealistic standard for growing cubs, and their mamas and papas.

I hate how Papa Bear is all Sitcom Dad, fat and clueless and a big target, wide-open for spiteful jokes.

I hate that the book doesn't address how Mama's jokey-comments and side-eyes are vicious and hurtful, how she's scoring points off her family and that isn't what families do.

I also hate, hate, hate how Mama Bear is

a) immune to temptation
b) mean and cruelly taunting in her treatment of her family
c) all I-told-you-so-y
d) right. aaaaaalways right.

I think moms, and women in general, do feel pressure to be right, always right, and immune to temptation, and merciless in recognizing and mowing down unpalatable habits in their children. Mama Bear is just a little too on-the-nose for what's expected of moms - be good, be right, be firm, be in control at all times, and remember, you didn't come here to make friends. You came here to serve your kids raisins.

Mama Bear, your tale of Junk Food redemption is coming off the shelf.

In fact, it already has. I let Chicken hold onto it so he could read it during nap time yesterday. When I went in to wake him up...



I hear you, Chicken. Loud and clear.

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