Peppermint Patty. Peanuts, written and illustrated by Charles Schulz. WikiCommons.

Like the rest of the Peanuts‘ gang girls, Peppermint Patty is pretty forthright and speaks her mind. She doesn’t let anyone get away with unkindness, but she isn’t the brightest nor that intuitive. She often misunderstands social situations and has a tendency to appreciate her own version of reality over others.

Of all the Peanuts characters, Peppermint Patty is the most obvious in terms of making a statement. Charles Schulz introduced Patty (Patricia Reichardt) in 1966 and she was the only girl who didn’t wear a dress. Her short hair, sandals and shorts make her unabashedly tomboy appearance stand out amongst the other Peanuts girls. Although tomboy in her looks and some of her behavior, she is still portrayed as a little girl. Despite being tough, she is still sensitive, but prideful and tries not to show when she has her feelings hurt.

Schulz said that Patty was originally was going to be developed into her own comic strip, but he decided instead to make her part of the Peanuts family. She was consciously developed in response to the social changes of the 1960s, specifically the women’s movement.

Her appearance defied gender norms of the time. Dressed in a baseball t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, Patty is distinctly different from all the other Peanuts girls who tend to wear only dresses and Mary Jane-looking shoes. Her short hair and freckles also allude to her tomboy personality, giving her an overall appearance that is strictly not feminine.

Patty was also a part of a single parent household as her mother was dead and she lived only with her father who worked all the time, reflecting a growing reality in the USA. She was not very good in school, consistently receiving a D- on every single assignment and often sleeping through class. This was a result of her underlying fears of going to bed before her father returned home from work.

Patty was a latchkey kid before there was a name for it. Patty’s true strength is as an athlete, being a star on the baseball team. She also sometimes has a crush on Charlie Brown, but is more often than not frustrated by him like everyone else.

Taken together, Patty’s appearance and personality are key reflections of her time. Her rebellion against girly dresses and her tomboy personality could be reflective of her status in society: she is the parent of divorced children, in an era where divorce was something still frowned upon. Since she is also the only girl who dresses as a tomboy, her appearance also singles her out amongst the Peanuts family and serves to reinforce her living situation and scholastic abilities.

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