Fat-shaming has trickled down to beloved cartoon Scooby Doo.
The series’ latest direct-to-video movie, Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy, takes a curse a little too far. This time, the group is in Pennsylvania, where Velma has inherited a haunted mansion. The story’s token villain vows to take away the things the Mystery Gang holds most dear. And for vain, stylish Daphne that’s her looks.
As part of his evil scheme, the bad guy transforms her from a size 2 to—zoinks!—a size 8. “Cursed” Daphne balloons up from her lean frame, and she’s completely horrified by her new appearance. Thing is, she hasn’t lost her looks. She’s just overweight. As Tom Burns wrote on the Good Men Project, “Why not cover her in hair and fangs and turn her into a wolf-girl?”
Daphne’s exaggerated figure also gives young viewers a distorted image of what a size 8 actually looks like. To put it in perspective, actress Kate Winslet once said she fluctuates between a size 6 and 8, and no one would label her as overweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the average American woman weighs 166 pounds and is about 5’4″. That’s a body mass index (BMI) of 28.5, which is considered overweight (a normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9). Most size 8s wouldn’t come close to a BMI of 28.5.
But that’s not the biggest problem. The cartoon makes it sound like Being A Certain Size—which happens to be smaller than the average woman—is the worst thing ever. Not cool, Scooby Doo.
Yes, Daphne realizes after her fat-shaming incident that she was being superficial (note that her love interest Fred says he didn’t notice a change), but she returns to her regular size 2 at the end of the movie. Rut-roh. It doesn’t help when children get exposed to these images at young age. By elementary school, 40 to 60% of girls ages 6 to 12 are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Still, one reviewer on Amazon took a different perspective on the film.
“I actually have to defend the writers here because Daphne realized she was being superficial throughout that story arc, it added to the story in a meaningful way (it allows her to evade iron face) and the most importantly: Fred didn’t notice/care and said that she ‘always looked good to him,'” the reviewer wrote. “I would say it was more about acceptance and not being superficial than anything.”
No matter what side you’re on, most would agree on this: It probably wasn’t the best way to approach the topic of vanity.