If You Are New To This Blog…

Amy Julia Becker asked me to write a little introduction to what my blog is about (it appeared on hers yesterday) but it occurred to me that it is a good introduction to those of you who may be new to the blog.

Plus, here’s a new picture of me that I haven’t yet uploaded to my “About Me” page:

Stone-Headshot

When I started my blog (almost exactly!) two years ago, it was called Eat With Joy, which became the title of my book. The blog started out as being mostly about issues related to food and body image from a Christian perspective, and I usually have posts related to some aspect of these at least once a week.

One of the most popular posts from the early days of my blog is called “My Audrey Hepburn Problem.” In it I discuss my youthful admiration of the film star, and how I (very unfortunately) conflated her reputed kindness and philanthropy with her (very unusual) good looks.

Another post that gives a good sense of the kind of writing I do on the blog is “The Cultural Evolution of Candy Land.” It all began when I laid out my old Candy Land game (circa 1980s) next to the 2010, and was shocked by how thin–and sexualized–the characters had become. It grew into a series including My Little Ponies and Polly Pockets as I noticed the trend in other toys, more or less concluding with a post on why it matters whether a toy is thin and sexy (or not.)

I write about the books I’m reading at least once a week (Mondays often feature book reviews) and sometimes post simple, family-friendly recipes.

And because I’ve been living and working in Malawi, Africa–where my husband and I teach at a Christian seminary, and where I occasionally volunteer as a labor doula–there are occasional posts about the state of maternal health globally, pictures of animals seen on our travels, and thoughts on wealth, poverty, and gratitude for all of God’s gifts: not just the edible, but the beautiful, the hilarious, and the eminently re-readable.

The Cultural Evolution of Candy Land

My son Graeme, who’s almost 4, is very into Candy Land lately. He’ll play it all by himself, or with his brother, or with me, and he cheats a lot, but whatever; he’s so cute.

Anyway, they were given this new set (dated 2010, Made in China) and I remembered I still had my old Candy Land put away somewhere (dated 1984, Made in USA) and so I pulled them out for a comparison, and was really surprised by what I found.

1984 on the left; 2010 on the right.

2010’s game is so much BUSIER and full of candy than 1984’s. In fact, I find 2010 a bit overwhelming visually, whereas 1984’s seems like a relaxed stroll through villages with distinct characteristics. But okay.

Here’s where things are notably different, right at the beginning–the kids:

2010

1984

Okay, so obviously we’ve had diversity training, but look what else! 1984’s kids are pleasantly rounded, 2010’s kids have clearly taken “Let’s Move!” to heart. Amazing, considering that both the fruits and the nuts of the 1984 game board are a thing of the past, and there’s like 250% more candy portrayed on the 2010 board.

Plumpy (PLUMS! FRUIT! 5-a-day!) has no 2010 counterpart.

Likewise, the Grandma of 1984 had a peanut plantation in her front yard (granted, she turned them into peanut brittle for her siding, but work with me here) whilst Grandma 2010 makes fudge (and she has lost weight):

Grandma 1984
Grandma 2010

Friendly Mr. Candy Cane is gone, replaced by a reminder that men, too, have an idealized muscular form to which they should aspire:

1984
2010. Note how his ice-cream is twice the size of his not insubstantial head.

Even the King has had to slim down:

King, 1984
King, 2010

As have the game pieces:

any guesses which pieces are from 1984, and which from 2010?

The Lollipop Lady has gone from Shirley Temple-esque to otherworldly and waifish:

1984
2010 (look how much longer and thinner she is!)

But the pièce de résistance has to be Frostine, who has been demoted from Queen (1984) to Princess (2010), and has been majorly slimmed down and sexed up in the meantime:

1984
2010

So let’s get this right: portions are doubled, there’s no more fruit or nuts, and yet everyone and everything–even the game pieces!–is/are much, much thinner, while the number of actual Americans who are obese has at least quadrupled since 1984?

Good thing I’m still working on my book revisions. I’m going to have to add a whole chapter on the cultural history of Candy Land.  

(or at least talk about it in my book.)