Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood sets example for social acceptance

By Mike Morefield
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 14, 2005

Cartoons are an integral part of a child's life, and we lived in the golden age. Whether they were watching David the gnome and Swift the fox saving poisoned deer or Hawk fighting the nefarious Cobra Commander, kids were glued to their televisions when they rushed home from school.

Cartoons were also a learning tool, be it the obvious safety tip after G.I. Joe or the hidden lesson of sharing from the Care Bears, cartoons helped form notions of acceptable behavior in society. You learned that sharing is caring, not to hit people and to always be polite, all from half-hour animated lessons on life.

One cartoon in particular helped us accept social issues whether we knew it or not - "Winnie the Pooh." But we have drifted from these simple messages, and it is high time we sit down and watch some cartoons to help instill these life lessons again.

Obesity and body image problems are tearing apart the American culture at the seams. Girls stare at photos of magazine models (that are airbrushed) and wish they had those "perfect" bodies. Sadly, they do not grasp that confidence and a healthy body image is the true way to happiness, and they have had a perfect role model all along: Winnie the Pooh.

Pooh bear is one of the best models of a healthy body image, because he is a portly bear who loves food (honey, I believe, was his favorite), but he loved himself the most. He never wished he were thin because Rabbit was; he embraced his inner bear and was the happiest bear in the Hundred Acre Wood. We can all take a lesson from a bear that was so large he got stuck in a rabbit hole (oh bother), but still smiled about it afterward.

The success of the single parent is another life lesson in the Hundred Acre Wood.

While there are groups complaining of the problems of single-parent households, single parents still make up a large part of society.

Supporters of single parenting have a poster child who would hop at the opportunity to do so. Kanga, single mother of Roo, raised her child with morals, discipline and a healthy diet of vegetables from Rabbit's garden. He understood the difference between right and wrong and was always there to help a friend, a noble attribute.

Kanga taught him all he knows and made dinner every night, all the while being a single mother. Though she did have some chastising words when he would not calm down, it was a healthy home life, better than or equal to any with a mother and father.

With help from a friendly donkey, the Hundred Acre Wood also taught us about the pitfalls of depression. People with depression sometimes withdraw from society, making them feel alone in their fight against their disease; sometimes just a helping hand could pull them through.

Eeyore knew this, and he relied on his friends to help him cope with his depression. Eeyore was a solitary character, living away from everyone and usually keeping to himself. His moments of happiness were when he was with his friends, though, something he eventually understood.

His friends would always cheer him up or give him a compliment, putting a smile on Eeyore's face. Maybe losing his tail was just a ploy, a ruse to bond with his friends. Either way, Eeyore learned that to be happy and cope with such a debilitating disease as depression, friends could sometimes be the strongest medicine.

There has never been a more of a motley crew than the pals of the Hundred Acre Wood, at least not since "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." Where else can an obsessive-compulsive disorder-afflicted rabbit, a happily portly bear, a gopher with a speech impediment and a tiger with attention deficit disorder be the best of friends?

In the real world, that's where, if we all take lessons from "Winnie the Pooh." Sometimes we all feel so different and sometimes we use those differences to segregate or judge each other, which is neither healthy nor right. Society sometimes sees these social disorders as bad or freakish, but this is the good stuff. This is the stuff that helps us be individuals; the things that make us feel special.

So when you see someone who feels depressed talking to someone who rearranges his or her toothpaste every day, think to yourself, "the Hundred Acre Woods had it right."

Mike Morefield is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.