Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why I don't like Fancy Nancy

I mentioned yesterday that I don't like Fancy Nancy books, so here's my reason why.

First of all, for those of you who aren't familiar with Fancy Nancy, she is a little girl (maybe about 6?) that loves to dress up and make things "fancy" (hence the name).  I actually really like how the books are written as the author puts in big "fancy" words, and then explains them (e.g., she'll use the word "bouquet" and say that it's a fancy word for a bunch of a flowers).  So they're good for expanding vocabulary (that's how Annika learned the word unique) and the stories are usually good too - usually Fancy Nancy learns a lesson in each one. And the illustrations are quite good as well - lots of vivid detail and color. 

Here's what I don't like - the overall message that Annika has picked up from these books is that looks matter most.  Fancy Nancy talks a lot about what is fancy and what is plain, and she wants everything to be fancy (because fancy is better).  Annika loves dressing up and wearing nice clothes, so she immediately latched onto this concept.  In fact, one day she even told me that she didn't like me, because I was wearing plain clothes.  Not that she didn't like my clothes - she said she didn't like me.  Yikes.  I tried to explain to her that we shouldn't judge people on what they wear, and that that was not a very nice thing to say to someone, and there's much more to people than what they're wearing, etc.  I'm hoping the message got through.  Since then, we've put away the Fancy Nancy books and have stopped borrowing them from the library.  I figure that she'll be bombarded with society's messages to look good, be thin, wear the right clothes, etc, soon enough - we don't need to be dealing with that kind of stuff already.  She still likes to wear her fancy clothes (she wears skirts and dresses almost every day and wearing a pair of jeans is a punishment to her), and she'll often ask me "don't I look fancy?"  I'll usually tell her, "yes, you look very nice", but try not to focus on it for too long.  And I also try to tell her things like she's smart, creative, funny, silly, etc as well, to try to balance things out.  We also talk about things like being a good friend, and why we like people and why people like us.  Hopefully the message is getting through that although it is fun to be fancy and look nice, there's a lot more to people than just what's on the outside.


LaughingLady said...

Man, you just gotta be so careful about what goes into their little minds, eh?? I haven't noticed it so much in the books the girls read, but there are certainly things in many of the kids' TV shows out there that I don't really like my girls thinking is normal or acceptable. Particularly troubling, I find in most current children's and young kids' shows, is the rampant disrespect for adults and authority in general. Grown-ups are almost always portrayed as complete idiots (especially the males), and the kids are shown to be of vastly superior intellect and have virtually complete control.

The other thing that bugs me is diet commercials on kids' TV channels. I really don't think that should be allowed!! About a year ago, I decided to make a conscientious effort to not talk about my weight or anything related, and yet they constantly see the commercials and comment to each other on the amazing changes shown in the before and after photos. Not that long ago, Abby spent a whole evening exercising because she was concerned that she would get fat.

Between those and a few other concerns, it's gotten bad enough that even my TV-loving husband has conceded it would probably be better if they just couldn't watch anything ~ and they're generally only allowed an hour a day as is!

Nancy said...

I like your thoughts here, Pam. It is really difficult to teach our kids what real beauty is when they are bombarded with media telling them that outside appearance is the most important thing. So far Lillian has been able to keep that balance that outside appearance does not dictate who a person is. She seems to be making the connection that it is fun to be fancy but it's more important to be a kind, thoughtful, and respectful person. Good for you for realizing that Annika needed you to protect her from those lies about outward beauty. Filling our kids with God's truth about how special and wonderful he created them will only make Annika's life more wonderful!

Andrea said...

Good for you for shelving those books! I definitely think there is far too much emphasis put on looks, even at such young ages. The earliest I remember struggling with my looks/weight, etc was in grade 9 - but just this winter Joelle complained one day about having to wear ski pants to school because she said they made her look "fat"!! We are NOT allowed to use that word in our house, so it shocked me to hear her say that.

And saddened me to think that my 8 year old is already concerned about that.

I know you weren't talking about weight here, but it fits into the 'looks' category anyway.

You're doing the right thing by feeding her with other positive things about her than just focusing on her looks. Yes, she is a beautiful girl and yes, she looks lovely in her nice dresses on Sunday mornings - but putting more emphasis on WHO she is is far better for her.

Andrea said...

ps: We were just offered some Fancy Nancy books from a friend this week, and I remembered you saying you weren't a fan of them (just couldn't remember the reason)so I passed them up.