Where do we start with this one? Well, let's just say that this one brought us out of hiding. We haven't posted since March. What a stunningly bad idea! The GYMANIMALS web site starts with an annoying song and goes on to create cartoon characters/animals to teach kids about health and fitness. Yes, children need to eat more nutritious meals and exercise more, but there are so many misguided and ignorant messages here we don't know where to start. First, it’s not exactly their (kids') responsibility. It’s OUR responsibility to create schools that offer healthy meals and don’t take bribes from soda companies to place machines in the lunchrooms. It’s OUR responsibility to teach healthy eating at home. So, what does this have to do with gender and packaging girlhood and boyhood? Well, take a look at the animals. Of course, the doctor, Dr. Smart, is male. Then we meet Leon the Lion who is the “fearless leader” and whose favorite exercise is bicep curls. His weapon of choice is dumbbells. This is wrong on so many levels. First, why do young boys need to “fight” obesity with “weapons” or with free weights, for that matter? Why is the leader a guy always? And why do these people think that doing bicep curls will combat childhood obesity? Let’s get kids into gyms lifting weights? What fun! A whole lot of calories burned there! And think of all the team work they're learning about! Instead, why don't they promote safe playgrounds and outdoor sports? Then comes Gina the Giraffe who is a gymnast. A gymnast? Didn’t these folks read any of the literature on how gymnastics puts pretty little girls in tiny little boxes of bodies to fit into their specializations? And Gina's weapon? A heavy ball? What does that have to do with gymnastics? And why is she wearing pink? Petey the Prizefighting Primate? His sport is boxing and his weapon is gloves? He’s the “toughest”? Of course, because he’s a boy he has to be tough, but is boxing a great sport to teach kids in order to keep fit? And Rip the Rockin Rhino is yet another person who keeps fit by going to the gym. He’s the strongest member (because he’s a boy of course) and his favorite exercise is dead lifting. Who in the world recommends dead lifting to kids in order to keep them fit? THEN we get the baddies – there’s a green blob called O-Bee-Sity that the good guys and one pink gymnast are going to fight so that he doesn’t turn children into big fatty blobs. Yes, they use language like that! The other bad guys are Phat Cells, Germ the Worm, Couch Potato and....wait for it. Following stereotypical practice, they need to have one female character among the baddies and who can this be? Anna-Rexia who “infects little girls with eating disorders.” And she “despises the Gymanimals”. Now that’s strange… many girls with anorexia LOVE the gym, lifting weights, obsessing about muscle vs. fat. I would think they’d all get along as girls who are counting calories work themselves to death at lonely gyms. But seriously, who are the creators of this madness and what were they thinking???? "The Gymanimals will forever be how our children identify the topic of good physical health and nutrition…" so they write. OH GOD NO!