The Peppa Pig Parenting Predicament
Why parents should be wary of letting their children spend too much time watching the world’s favourite cartoon pig.
I know what you’re thinking.
I haven’t seen such good alliteration since secondary school English class.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the fifteen years since she first graced our screens, the chances are pretty good that you know exactly who Peppa Pig is. If you don’t, then I envy you. Only parents or those with young siblings truly understand just how torturous an experience having to listen to a cartoon pig constantly whining can be.
As I type this article I’m sat on my new garden furniture, basking in what is undoubtedly the last bit of sunshine the UK will see this year. Over the sound of my typing, I can hear children playing in a nearby garden. I find it highly amusing that I sit and type this particular article, I can hear a child shouting that she wants to watch Peppa Pig.
In fifteen years the show has transformed from something which nearly never made it to air, to being shown in 170 countries and translated into 40 languages. The official Peppa Pig Youtube channel has more than 9 million subscribers (most of these are undoubtedly parents, unaware that their child has subscribed), and the show has led to the creation of all manners of merchandise, clothing, toys, DVD’s, music albums and even a theme park. Kids love that irritating little hog.
My children are no exception. Or they used to be. My daughter Isabella is five, so she’s grown out of it, but when she was younger it’s all she ever wanted to watch. My son Jacob is two and it is currently one of his favourite to watch.
I try not to pay much attention to the TV when my kids are watching it, so after almost six years of parenting, it’s pretty much become background noise now. But given the sheer amount of time combined my children have spent watching Peppa Pig, I’ve picked up a few snippets here and there, which have led me to one conclusion.
Peppa Pig is a rude, obnoxious little brat, and I’d be horrified if either of my children turned out like her.
Now the parents among you, and those with younger siblings will no doubt have some inkling as to where I’m going with this. But for the blissfully unaware, let me give you some insight into the life of Peppa Pig.
1) She’s a sore loser, and rude to pretty much everyone.
“You’re not my friend anymore” is one of Peppa’s favourite phrases. If things aren’t going her way, or someone does something she doesn’t like, Peppa is not afraid to say ‘Bye-bye’ to her friends. The clip below, infamous among parents and meme-lovers demonstrates exactly what I mean:
Now, some might say that her character is written to be realistic of how real children might act. But is this the behaviour we want our children to emulate? Jacob is two, far too young to understand what’s happening in the show. He likes it because it’s colourful, and Peppa has a funny voice. That’s about it. But in a year or so, he may have developed more of an understanding of some of the concepts depicted in the show. Do I want him starting school thinking that friendships are based on the rule of ‘Do what I want or get lost?’ No thank you.
2) Peppa constantly fat-shames her Daddy.
The show’s writers were apparently unable to make a single episode that didn’t involve Peppa making some sort of reference to Daddy Pig’s ‘Big Tummy.’
The above video is over an hour-long, but you only need to watch the first fifteen seconds to see what I mean. In this episode, Peppa and George are playing in their secret treehouse. She decides that the secret password is ‘Daddy’s Big Tummy’, which prompts much laughter from the rest of the family at Daddy Pig’s expense. In other episodes, she tells Daddy Pig that he is too big to go down the slide with George, that he needs to do more exercise, that his tummy is too big for him to dive into a swimming pool.
And we wonder why children become bullies? Now I’m not for a moment suggesting that if a child becomes a bully then it is solely the fault of a cartoon pig. But for young children to watch scenes depicting fat-shaming makes these attitudes appear normal. I’ve written previously about child obesity, how an increasing number of children are already overweight when they start school. Do you want your child to think it’s normal to make fun of another child’s ‘big tummy’ because Peppa Pig does it? Or even worse, how would you feel if your child was on the receiving end of such comments?
And while we’re on the topic of Daddy Pig…
3) The Show’s Portrayal of Men Leaves A lot To Be Desired
“Silly Daddy” is something I hear quite often from my children and no doubt that obnoxious little pig is to blame. It’s what Peppa says gleefully after watching Daddy Pig lose his glasses, knock a hole through a wall while hanging a picture, or mistaking what day it is and being late for work. The general attitude of the show is that the lead male character is fat, lazy and incompetent, who likes to do nothing more than watch television and eat chocolate cake. Female characters, on the other hand, are portrayed in a completely different light.
One particular episode shows Miss Rabbit, the show’s resident multi-tasking superwoman, taking a sick day from her multiple jobs as a bus driver, running an ice-cream stand, and working in a supermarket. Other characters (two of which are male) offer to step in and cover while she is off sick but they are seemingly not up to the task.
Everyone makes the same joke that women can multitask and men can’t. But portraying men as incompetent and lazy as a direct comparison to women is a lesson we should not be teaching our children, particularly in this day and age where we are constantly banging on about inequality. Imagine if the roles were reversed, and it was Mummy Pig or Miss Rabbit failing to do Daddy Pig’s job while he’s sick. Would it be acceptable then, to send the message to preschool children that one gender is superior to the other? I think not.
4) She’s a Terrible Big Sister
Having an older daughter and a younger son, I can relate to this one somewhat. Jacob absolutely worships the ground that Isabella walks on. He loves playing with her, he just wants to be involved. She can’t wear one of her Disney Princess dresses without him wanting to put one on and dance around with her. Most of the time they get along. Yes, they wind each other up. Yes, they don’t always play well together, sometimes Isabella wants to play on her own.
But Peppa Pig on the other hand? Whether it be because he’s a boy or he’s too little, George is constantly excluded from her games, particularly when she’s with her friends. Is this a lesson we want our children to learn? Or should we expect more from the little porker, who regrettably is now considered something of a role model to children worldwide?
“But it’s only a cartoon!”
I know. But it is aimed at preschool children, who have brains like sponges. The interactions between these characters will form some part of their understanding of relationship dynamics. This is why it is so important that the way these characters behave around one another reflects the values and behaviours we’d want to see in our children.
I’m not going to stop my son from watching Peppa Pig. But it has made me reconsider just how much he should be watching a show whose main character displays some of these negative behaviours, particularly as he gets older and reaches preschool age.
Most parents can handle that insufferable little pig in small doses. But if you really can’t stomach any more of her incessant whining?
I’m sure a few slices of bread and some HP sauce will make it much more palatable.
Jon Peters is a 28-year old writer from the UK. If you reached this far down the page, welcome! I’m glad you could join us. If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more of what I have to say, you can get to my profile by clicking…here.