My ‘Scooby Doo’ idol went from Daphne to Velma—here’s why

For Halloween this year I really wanted to go as Scooby Doo. I’d seen an adult sized Scooby suit online and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I kept imagining how funny it would be, all of my friends looking hot and fierce and fine as hell as flappers, nurses, and ballerinas, gracefully sipping their cocktails and laughing demurely, all while their old pal Scooby Doo was standing in the corner, howling at strangers and lapping up her martini with her tongue. I commit fully to my characters.

When I told my mom my plan she very sweetly (and very truthfully) told me that while I would get a lot of laughs, I probably wouldn’t get a lot of romantic interest dressed as a 5 foot tall dog with a penchant for solving mysteries and aggressive snacking. Boys like a sense of humor, but they tend to flirt with the girls who laugh at their jokes and touch their arm, not the girl who is the joke and slaps them with her tail.

I was trying to catch a boy at the time, a specific boy who I’d liked for a while and would be spending Halloween with. When I thought through the possibility that he may ignore me and my adorable floppy puppy paws in favor of a pretty princess with a glitzy tiara, I realized that I didn’t care. Let him leave, I thought, if he cant’t handle me at my Scooby, he doesn’t deserve me at my Daphne.

This was the thought that stuck in my head and the reason I felt the need to write this article in the first place. I have never not wanted to be Daphne. When I would watch Scooby Doo as a little kid, I was enthralled by Daphne. She was so cool, so put together and fashionable. She had that flippy coifed hair and those awesome green tights and she could run in heels! She was probably the first role model I had in terms of beauty, and was definitely my favorite of the Mystery Gang.

But as I’ve gotten older, and incrementally wiser, I’ve realized that Daphne probably didn’t have a lot of fun. She always had to worry about looking good and saying the right things. She always had Fred watching her, leering and smirking and adjusting his ascot. She always had to pretend to be disinterested when the gang would munch on Scooby snacks and order foot long hoagies. And if she solved a mystery, she had to do so gently and unobtrusively, so no one would suspect she was actually hella smart and observant, and would continue to think of her as the “pretty one.”

I don’t want that. I want to eat whatever I want and wear sweatpants and my hair in a bun because I haven’t washed it in three days because I’ve been too busy solving mysteries and putting bad guys in their place to worry about “personal hygiene.” I want to speak up when I know what I’m talking about and get angry when people are rude to me and wear my glasses sometimes because contacts are hard and my eyes hurt.

In short, I want to be Velma. I want to be strong and smart and unapologetically myself even when it’s hard and people don’t like my turtleneck.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love Daphne’s look, and wouldn’t begrudge anyone from keeping Daphne on their role model list.  I still want to wear a giant furry onesie and start every sentence with “Ruh-Row,” but I feel like Velma is a more substantial and realistic role model for the days when I actually need to get work done and can’t just lounge around eating Scooby snacks and scratching myself (although that is my ideal life. I should have been born a Great Dane). 

As little girls we’re taught that it’s not cool to be “the smart one.” We can still be smart, but it needs to be balanced against beauty and grace, subdued and quiet and almost secret. Before, I never wanted to be the Velma of the friend group, the lovably slouchy one who will probably get her own makeover episode at some point wherein we find out she was beautiful all along under all that intelligence. We want to be beautiful all the time! We want the girls to admire us and the boys to flirt with us and our hair to fall in long auburn ribbons down our shoulders. I still want all that, even though I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m comfortable enough with myself to dress like a dog and howl at the moon in the name of laughter, I still want people to think I’m pretty.

But it’s becoming less and less important. These days I spend much more time thinking about my work and my future than thinking about how I’m going to wear my hair or get a boy to like me. I read long books and get excited about things and try to tell the truth even when it isn’t popular or cool. I spend time with the people who like me for who I am and will generally choose to say something silly and risk embarrassing myself over sitting quietly and risking nothing.

I’m learning to unlock my inner Velma and let her shine in all of her glasses-clad geeky glory, even when my outer Daphne would rather she shut up and go back to the library. I’m learning to laugh at myself and take chances and not worry so much about how other people perceive me, even cute boys at parties that I’d really like to like me.

I didn’t end up going as Scooby Doo this year, the costume was too expensive and too far away. But knowing that I would have worn it, that I would have been goofy and silly and put myself out there even if it meant losing a potential boyfriend, makes me feel better about where I’m going and who I’m becoming.

In the words of the wise Tina Fey, “Who cares if it’s not cute? It’s funny!.”

[Image courtesy of Warner Brothers]

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