My daughter’s TV heroines: Rated out of 10

Peppa Pig, Moana, Skye… they’re not all created equal

One of the things I’ve been keenly aware of through my daughter’s two-and-a-half years in this world is that the representations of girls and women in media are … not always ideal.

So I’ve tried to make sure that for every pretty princess she sees in a TV programme or movie, there’s a feisty entrepreneur in the mix, too.

Turns out, some of the female characters are far superior to the others. Here’s my quick guide.

Peppa Pig

Rating: 3/10

I initially didn’t give Peppa too much thought. I mean, how much can a cartoon pig do, really? Turns out I should have been paying more attention. Not only did Peppa encourage both my kids to take up a habit of jumping without warning in muddy puddles, but it turns out she’s not the best role model, either.  She’s particularly dismissive of her little brother and rude to her father, orders her friends around in a way that would quickly become extremely tiresome in real life, and cannot handle losing a game – ever. She’s also waaaay too fond of the word “yuck”. My kids don’t need any encouragement to bring that one out.

She gets points for being a bit bossy, though. Not a bad trait in a young lady, imo.

Skye

Rating: 4/10

The biggest problem with Paw Patrol is probably the lack of female characters altogether. Skye and Everest seem like afterthoughts someone tagged on when it was pointed out that the creators were missing a chance to sell merchandise to half the kid population of the world. Skye might “take to the sky” but she’s not exactly “on the case” or “on the double”, is she? She mostly seems to provide info to the boys on the ground who actually get stuff done.

Barbie

Rating: 4/10

Okay so I was prepared to HATE Barbie and her weird Dreamhouse on Netflix. Weirdly, it’s actually not as bad as I expected – but that’s for adult viewers. It’s not among my favourites for the kids.

It turns lots of Barbie stereotypes into the punchline of jokes (like having her climb Mt Everest in her heels) and feels like a cartoon version of Keeping Up with the Kardashians with little pieces-to-camera that parody the reality show theme.

But just like I don’t really want my kids emulating the Kardashians, I’m not super comfortable with them absorbing Barbie’s ridiculous figure and massive shopping habit, either. But at least she owns her own enormous Dreamhouse, I guess. I’ll start my property moguls young.

Emma Wiggle

Rating: 9/10 Let’s face it, Emma Wiggle is basically the only reason anyone watches the new version of the Wiggles, isn’t she?. Somehow she manages ballet, singing, playing the drums and constant smiling even while apparently suffering debilitating endometriosis and breaking up with a husband she has to keep working with. She’s clearly holding everything together for this troupe. And she can get my kids to sing “dancing brings us so much joy, like a veggie stir fry with some soy….” Now if they’d just try that veggie stir fry I’ll be set. But seriously, Emma Wiggle can be my friend any day.

She only loses a point because that tutu is haaaaard to wash.

Moana

Rating: 9/10

Empowered, determined, only a chicken for a love interest – Moana is my favourite of the Disney heroines. The only negative is that her expert wayfaring has given my kids a bit too much confidence. Could she not have just bumbled about in the shallow water where her mum could see her, with a life jacket on?

Mavis, Hotel Transylvania

Rating: 6/10

I had such high hopes for this one when, in the first film, she wanted to get out from beneath the cloak of her overbearing father. But apart from turning around her family’s distaste of humans (so that she could be with a man, it must be said), she disappointingly falls into the usual female role of holding it together for everyone else. Maybe in number four we can see her break free and follow her own dreams for a couple of centuries. Too much to ask?

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