I think my stance on "The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food" has been well-established. I think it's mean-spirited and narrow-minded.
Unfortunately, Chicken loves it.
After I threw ours away, he asked for it constantly. (Side note: thanks for putting a photograph of Too Much Junk Food on the back of every single other Berenstain Bears book. For reals. So grateful.)
Every time I put him off with a vague, "huh, you're right, where is that book? Oh look! It's time for a Larabar!"
Fast-forward to 6 months later, when we went to Barnes & Noble and I told him he could pick one small book to buy.
Guess which one he picked.
Chicken: JUNK FOOD!!! (hugs the book)
Me: Oh. Um...
Chicken: Dis one, Mommy! (opens it up to page 1)
Me: Well, Chicken...
Chicken: We needed this one! Ours is gone!
Me: Listen, I don't care for this book, baby.
Chicken: But... but... but... but it's for me.
$5 later, we're the proud owners of a brand-new Junk Food book. He was right. The book wasn't for me.
We are keeping the book.
But I redacted that shit.
I kept all the stuff about healthy food and good habits. But I redacted every word of Mama Bear's snarky bullshit, and I redacted references to Papa Bear's fatness and greed, and I redacted the shit out of anything to do with how the shapes of Brother and Sister Bear's bodies signified something negative about their character or health.
"This is a mean part, baby," I said as I inked out Mama Bear's bitter barbs about the bears growing side to side as much as up and down. I know childhood obesity is a serious problem.
But I also know that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. New York Road Runners taught me that. My ass got schooled by people who looked like they had no business on a 10K course: 300-pound dudebros with handlebar moustachios, 80-pound "my body is made of joints and sinew" octogenerians, 14-year-old string beans with feet like U-boats, and yes, the occasional lean, wiry, Sports Illustrated athlete.
I'm not about to let a children's book published in 1985 restrict my sons' ideas of what "health" has to look like.
|WHICH WAS MAMA BEAR'S FAULT ANYWAY|
|"You're growing, all right," said Mama.|
"Into kind, thoughtful bears
who would never shame two children
for liking candy
or being a bit round."
Take that, Stan & Jan.