How Cartoons Impact Your Childhood

Until recently, I was under the impression that the only significant impact a cartoon can have on a person’s childhood was the ability to teach them how to be fluent in a certain language. I had come up with this conclusion based on my own childhood; I can honestly say that the #1 factor that contributed to my English speaking was the fact that I grew up watching English cartoons that my parents had recorded when they lived in the States.

Since these cartoons were recorded, I had a ton of those big VHS tapes lying around, but my supply was still limited. I watched the same cartoons and shows over and over again, which is why most of their dialogues and storylines are imprinted in my memory to this very day.

Image: Kick Next

Image: Kick Next

So no, I never watched the classic Egyptian plays, nor did I ever tune in to watch SpaceToon. While my English education relied on plays, my Arabic education relied on day-to-day conversations and Arabic children’s books -namely a series about five kids who solved mysteries in Maadi, which -funnily enough- is where I live now.

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia




Anyway, I usually find myself remembering little bits and pieces about cartoons and shows I used to watch. For the past few months, a particular cartoon theme song was stuck in my head and was driving me absolutely crazy. I’d find myself humming it at my desk over and over again, to the extent that I actually thought I’d find my cat humming it along with me one of these days.

To get rid of this earworm, I gave in and played the song on YouTube. I ended up playing it three or four times just to listen to the lyrics. The cartoon was called “Raggy Dolls”; it was a British cartoon revolving around dolls that were rejected from the toy factory because they weren’t perfect.

Image: EpGuides

Image: EpGuides

The lyrics went like this:

(It’s not much of a life when you’re just a pretty face)
Just to be whoever you are is no disgrace
Don’t be scared if you don’t fit in
Look who’s in the reject bin!

It’s the Raggy Dolls (Raggy Dolls)
Raggy Dolls (Raggy Dolls)
Dolls like you and me
Raggy Dolls (Raggy Dolls)
Raggy Dolls (Raggy Dolls)
Made imperfectly

So if you got a bump on your nose or lumps on your toes
Do not despair
Be like the Raggy Dolls, and say I just don’t care
Cause Raggy Dolls (Raggy Dolls)
Raggy Dolls (Raggy Dolls)
Are happy just to be
Raggy Dolls, Raggy Dolls
Dolls like you and me!


Image: imgur

You can listen to the song here.

I had to take a moment to process how awesome these lyrics can apply to any kid who felt out of place -and damn, was I out of place.

Growing up, my hair was always cut short, right under my ears. And since I was blessed with really, reaaaally bad eyesight (and no, just because your eyesight is -6 does not mean that you can relate), I used to wear big, plastic glasses and had a huge mouth that was in no way proportionate to the rest of my face. To say I was picked on would be an understatement. Starting from annoying kids who questioned if I was a boy or a girl (thank God for puberty), all the way to the mean kid on the bus who mocked my glasses relentlessly, it all did wonders for my self esteem.

Here’s a picture of one of my finer moments to give you an idea of what I looked like:

And no, I didn’t wear pink poofy bows and lipstick for no reason -this was my ballet recital.

Combine that kind of childhood with Disney fairytales and you get a self esteem disaster. All the Disney princesses had long, flowing hair, perfect eyelashes, red lips and stunning figures. While I enjoyed these cartoons, they still affected my perception of beauty, and I constantly found myself jealous of all the other girls with long hair and perfect eyesight.

In fact, as I grew up and became in control of how long my hair could be, I kept making it longer and longer in an attempt to overcompensate for all those years of short hair, until I recently got over it and decided short hair was cooler for me anyway.

What I mean to say here is, this Raggy Dolls cartoon helped. A lot. I loved how it represented a place where looks didn’t matter and imperfections were celebrated. I am eternally grateful that my parents recorded it for me, regardless of whether or not their reasoning involved the message the cartoon sends.

The bottom line is that the type of cartoons you watch impact your childhood, whether positively or negatively. So, while Disney cartoons remain a classic that children will cherish for years to come, parents should focus on the content of other cartoons and the messages they send to their kids. A child is so impressionable at such a young age -they’re like a sponge, absorbing all the messages they see around them, be they good or bad.

So if you have kids, maybe watch their cartoons with them and check to see how they affect them. Or better yet, think back to your own childhood and see how the things you watched affected you. It’s an interesting psychological exercise, and it’s nice to flex those brain muscles every once in a while.