Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The "We Hate Polyanna" Club

I have, on occasion, been accused of having a Polyanna Complex. It shouldn’t really bother me, bearing in mind that my accuser is usually my Other Half when he’s wearing his Grumpy Old Man hat. But it does…

My Grump usually makes this complaint when I’m trying to look on the bright side. Apparently, my determination to find something good in everything and to think positive wherever I can is irritating to the extreme.

The irony is that I have always had an abiding dislike for Polyanna, Little Orphan Annie, the girls from Little Women and their ilk.

I mean, really, no-one’s REALLY like that, are they?

And don’t even get me started on The Little House On The Prairie and the Ingles girls (I always wanted to give bloody Laura – complete with her flailing pigtails – a right royal slap as she came bounding down that hillside).

Why is it that the central characters in ‘girls’ books’ are all simpering morons, while the boys got all the good heroes to aspire to? I mean, honestly, given the choice between Huckleberry Finn and Laura Ingles, who would you choose?

I spent much more of my childhood up trees than I did cooing over dolls (though I was known to bury some in the garden and flush a few down the loo). And the thought of camping out overnight was far more exciting than a trip to the shops for a new dress (actually, that still applies). So, why did society expect me to plough through piles of books whose main characters delighted in all the things I couldn’t be bothered with?

I suspect it was a subtle (or not so subtle) form of brain-washing in preparation for a teenage era of devotion to ‘Jackie’ magazine (something else I never 'got'). But, I’m glad to say, my brain stayed stubbornly stained with the indelible marks of tomboyhood.

Luckily for me, my parents had no set ideas about what girls should or should not read, do, think or say (within reason). And apart from a few passionate arguments over a certain dark blue velvet party dress with a lace collar (the thought of which still makes me shudder), I was pretty much allowed to be myself rather than conforming to a predestined idea of what little girls with big blue eyes and long blonde hair should be. They let me be me.

So - any complaints to the manufacturers, please.

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