Have you signed up for our newsletter? Join ellaslist to get the best family and kid-friendly events, venues, classes and things to do NEAR YOU!
Bluey Blues: Why New Bluey Episode Has Parents Reeling
As is the same for many Aussie families, Bluey is a much-loved cornerstone of our evening routine. My almost-four-year-old daughter watches a couple of episodes every evening while I wrangle her younger brother to bed.
And, can the minutes please show, that the choice of Bluey is very intentional in our house. Before bed, it's wholesome, curious, calming, imaginative Bluey or nothing.
What's The Bluey Controversy Everyone Is Talking About?
Like many other parents, I was left saddened after watching Australia's favourite Dad and overgrown child, Bandit Heeler reacting to his weight in one of the new, long-awaited Bluey episodes.
In 'Exercise', Bandit is seen weighing himself on scales, sighing, clutching his tummy rolls and assessing himself in the mirror—before lamenting that he really needs to do some exercise. Bandit's wife Chilli chimes in with a disappointed sigh after weighing herself, too.
The episode goes on to promote a wholesome message around family exercise, but the opening scene has been really weighing on me (pun absolutely intended).
So why the uproar? Why, as a parent, am I left feeling so disheartened?
Undoing The Harm of Diet Culture
As a millennial, I have lived, breathed, been swept up in and then done my best to escape the dangerous clutches of diet culture. That is to say, the long-held, utterly entrenched belief that slim bodies are healthy bodies, and not only are they healthier than bigger bodies, but that they are more attractive and therefore more worthy.
Health at Every Size
Dr. Mansi Shah, a primary care provider at UW Medicine, acknowledges the dangers of linking exercise to weight loss.
"Oftentimes people frame weight loss and exercise as two things that go together. It’s really important to get exercise for mental health, overall health, and sleep, but whether your weight changes in response to your exercise routine is something that is not really under your control, despite the pervasive cultural messages we receive that suggest the opposite. We should disconnect the idea of being healthy from the idea or goal of losing weight."
Exercise Should Be About Self-Love Not Self-Hate
The messaging of the Bluey episode and the attitude of their familiar larrikin father was so jarring to me, not only because it's Bluey, but because I am hyper-vigilant about passing down such messaging to my children, particularly my daughter.
I don't want her to spend a single unnecessary second of her one precious life debating whether or not she should shrink and contort herself to meet the unrealistic beauty standards that society still perpetuates, and that's where Bluey hit me right in the chest.
I want my daughter to know that she is worthy of everything that's good in the world, whether or not she has tummy rolls and regardless of the number on the scales. Health comes in so many shapes and sizes, and a person's weight holds no moral value. I'll say it once again and a little bit louder for those at the back—a person's weight holds no moral value.
Why This Matters
To the people who may eye-roll at the sensitive millennials, triggered and up in arms and once again—I'd say, check your privilege. If you're lucky enough to be unharmed by diet culture and weight stigma, praise be. But these are real issues that can and will be perpetuated if we don't stand up and say this is not good enough for our children.
To the people that will toot the harmful health implications of obesity as a defence for this message, it's no secret that endorsing weight and body checking and negative comments about your body in front of your children leave their mark, and can become a fundamental contributor to eating disorders—which I'm sure you'll agree, are far from healthy.
Is Bandit A Bad Dad?
We're not here to say that Bandit is just a bad dad; we are VERY aware that everyone loves Bandit, the loveable larrikin, just the way he is. But we also know that Bluey and her younger sister Bingo love to imitate their entertaining and engaged father. From their comical array of curse words (who hasn't let out a cry of 'Oh, Biscuits' or 'Cheese and Crackers!' around the house? If you know, you know!), to the kids' pretend play, mimicking what Chilli and Bandit are doing—it's clear to see Bluey and Bingo thrive off of replicating what they see their parents do.
So how then, will watching Bandit stand on the scale and have such a negative reaction to the number he sees, pinching his body with disappointment and talking about weight loss, affect his two young daughters?
The Crucial Role of Show Creators in Ensuring Responsible Content for Children
Bluey aims to create a safe space that exemplifies Aussie families and offers an accurate depiction of contemporary Australian life, and there are undoubtedly responsibilities that come with that. While we're all for Bandit's engaged presence, if his actions encourage mimicry from the kids, then surely this scene needs to be reconsidered. For Bluey, Bingo and our kids watching at home.
Ultimately, Bluey was the last place I thought I would have to protect my children from such a toxic message. I'll be taking the episode out of rotation, continuing in my quest to teach my kids that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that what a person's body looks like is absolutely the least interesting thing about them.
What's Your Take?
This isn't the first time a Bluey episode has been changed or a part removed. Do you think the opening scene to 'Exercise' should be cut?
More Parenting News