“You’re braver than you think, stronger than you believe, and smarter than you think.”
Winnie the Pooh has long been known for its cozy Hundred Acre Wood and wide maxims uttered by the beloved bear and his friends. As someone who has loved the stories and movies since I could blink my eyes, I’m jealous of Christopher Robin’s memories with the stuffed animals. If only mine were as talkative as his! Beyond the sneakily integrated wisdom lies a theory of underlying representation that is ahead of its time.
The internet theorizes that each of the characters represents mental illnesses and the experiences of those who struggle with them. According to the Winnie-the-Pooh-ologists, Pooh deals with an eating disorder, Piglet with anxiety, Owl with OCD, Eeyore with depression, and so on and so forth. Though none of this has been confirmed, to imagine how A.A. Milne crafted such a world where cozy characters could exist together with their trials and adventures is an inspiration.
On top of their existence in the book, I find the relationships the animals create with one another to be tender and kind. They model what it looks like to sit with one another in the trenches and meet each other with unique compassion. When Eeyore was sad, the other characters built him a fort and settled down beside him. When Piglet becomes worried, they calm him down kindly. For a children’s story, world, and movie(s), to introduce kids to such a perspective is a soft introduction to what it means to love each other and give one another grace. And that is a remarkable thing!
If, in fact, this theory is just a theory, then what a comforting one it is! People have a knack for seeing themselves in their favorite stories, so to find themselves in something that exemplifies what it means to be a true friend is no crime at all.
Whether you’re a young reader or old, or if you feel sad one day and worried the next, you can be sure that Christopher Robin’s dearest friends will welcome you as one of their own in the Hundred Acre Wood.