As a young ginger girl I didn’t have many red-headed role models. RTÉ viewers will remember Bosco…enough said! There was also Fergie (the royal, not the football version) with her fabulous freckles and titian hair tied up with bows. But there was another, an adventurous red-haired character from Strawberryland who was the star of my early childhood – yes, Strawberry Shortcake.
The original Strawberry Shortcake was created in 1977, the year I was born. I was quite obsessed-there were stickers, books, bags, an incredible pencil-case shaped like a pencil that smelled of strawberries…I could go on! Here was a red-haired character with loads of freckles who wasn’t teased and tortured, who wasn’t an outsider. She was loved and celebrated.
So, a couple of years ago I stumbled upon this adorable Strawberry Shortcake book on eBay and I had to have it. When it arrived, I was faced with a dilemma. You know how much I love my vintage books and how loathe I am to recycle or repurpose them. I like to enjoy them for the purpose for which they were intended. With my Strawberry Shortcake book though, I knew I couldn’t just put it into the bookcase to be pulled out now and again. Along with WonderWoman, she’s a childhood hero. I wanted Strawberry Shortcake to be an everyday reminder of the joy of being a redhead, something I didn’t or couldn’t appreciate enough as a little girl.
So I did something. I cut a page out of my book and framed it…yikes! But you know something, I didn’t feel bad about it at all. That little book wouldn’t have had the outings it deserved and I wouldn’t have the absolute child-like joy I feel every time I walk past my lovely picture.
It’s odd that although I’m quickly approaching my 40s that this quirky little cartoon character still has the ability to inspire such happiness. It goes to show, I suppose, the impact that a positive role model can have on a child, real or fictional. And what is very important I think is that we never stop celebrating those role models, no matter what age we reach, as they will always hold something very dear to us-our childhood hopes and dreams.