Do I agree that here in America we have a little bit of a weight problem? Yes. Do I also agree that the problem has escalated to the point where it is no longer adults who are overeating and becoming overweight but young children and teenagers as well? Yes. Do I think that in order to rectify the problem we need to write books that tell young girls that the way to become more well-liked and popular at school is to be skinny? Absolutely not.
Obviously author Paul M. Kramer disagrees with me. Kramer is an American author and writer of the soon-to-be-published book Maggie Goes on a Diet, the story of an overweight 14-year old girl who is bullied and picked on at school for being overweight. As a result of the jokes and comments, Maggie goes on a diet, begins exercising regularly, picks up soccer and becomes popular amongst her former tormentors.
The book isn’t even on store shelves yet and it is already gathering quite the angry mob around it, mostly made up of parents of young girls in the age range of 4 to 8, the same age range the book is marketed to. Many parents believe that the book is sending the wrong message to girls, a message that all you have to do to be liked by everybody is be thin.
Young girls already have so much pressure from things like celebrities, fashion magazines and other girls to be thin that the last thing they need is a children’s book supporting these ways of thinking. Dr. Sloan Madden, a child and adolescent psychiatrist puts it best stating, “Children in that age bracket are very black and white and literal in the way they understand things, so they can’t look behind the message.”
While I do think this book is outrageous and potentially very harmful to young girls, I see where Kramer is coming from. I agree that there is a serious problem with both adult obesity and child obesity in America and other parts of the world and that something has to be done about it. However, I do not agree with trying to fix the problem by insinuating that the only way to become popular is to be skinny.
Girls around the age of 14 are at their most impressionable and are also at the age with the highest risk of developing an eating disorder. This book, in my opinion, only has the potential to take that impressionable age of 14 and decrease it to a younger and younger age.
I feel like Kramer had good intentions in writing the book, that point is obvious. It just seems as if he had extremely poor execution. Instead of helping children as the book was originally intended to do, I feel that Maggie Goes on a Diet will only serve to put across the wrong message to girls about weight, popularity and happiness.