I fondly recall 3 storybooks which strongly featured in my childhood:
Just Googling images of them made me smile! Although I still have a while before I’ll be buying picture books for my own kids, I dread to imagine the selection of books I will eventually be faced with. A couple of weeks ago, a link for the release of this book popped up on my Facebook homepage: Maggie Goes on A Diet by Paul Kramer.
Obviously the title alone intrigued me to click on it. The more I read about it, the more appalled and annoyed I felt. The summary for this book, which releases in October, is:
This book is about a 14-year-old girl who goes on a diet and is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal-sized girl who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image.
The last line about promoting a positive self-image is something I applaud but the first line? Not so much. Firstly the term diet should not be in any child’s vocabulary. The word alone is so 1990s and stirs up connotations of deprivation and misery. People wonder where eating disorders stem from and this is a prime example: mixed signals are being sent out to kids. Even though this book is about a 14-year old girl, the reading level is meant for children between the ages of 4-8.
Kids are undoubetedly impressionable and this book only intensifies the insecurities of little children and the risk of developing eating disorders. I think it’s safe to say that it takes more than a ‘diet’ to transform somebody. Equating ‘skinniness’ with popularity and happiness is destructive both physically and psychologically.
I appreciate Kramer’s attempt to tackle childhood obesity but I don’t think this is the way to go about it, especially considering he lacks expertise in child health. I might not be a psychologist but I’m not an idiot: children shouldn’t be encouraged to lose weight. They should be encouraged to develop healthy habits and taught how to eat nutritiously and stay active. More than that, the benefits of doing so which go beyond superficialness need to be promoted: a strong, fit, and healthy body. As a former fat kid, I thank my lucky stars that I was never put in the position to measure my worth against my appearance or weight. And if that’s not enough, here’s something else to chew over: why is the protagonist a girl?
What is your take on this attempt to reduce childhood obesity?