Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A post about "Maggie goes on a Diet"

“Hey Tania, there is a new children’s book coming out this fall. It’s called, ‘Maggie goes on a Diet.’ Izzy left a link to the CTV news piece on my facebook page.”
Tania’s eyes widen in disgust. Tania doesn’t have a weight problem, but we often talk about weight issues, eating disorders, walkable communities and the North American eating culture.
“It’s about a 14 year-old girl named Maggie who decides to go on a diet after being bullied and teased. She exercises and eats well and loses weight. In the end she is popular and becomes the star of the soccer team. It’s aimed at girls as young as five.”
“Five?” she says in shock.
“Disgusting eh? Sure, there are good messages in the book such as eating well and exercising. But why does the author need to focus on stereotypes? There is the bullied, ostracized fat girl; the thin, popular athletic star; girl bingeing in front of the refrigerator. Why does the book need to be so obvious? The book can focus on the eating and exercise but you don’t have to call it a diet.”
 “Why couldn’t the story be about Maggie getting on the soccer team?” Tania says.
“Exactly! That’s a great suggestion.”
“But it’s a business. It’s easier to market and make money with a straight-forward message.”
“It’s not even published yet and look at all the free publicity! Apparently the author is shocked by the controversy about his book,” I reply.
“Well, many people including the author don’t understand the negative implications of dieting, especially at such an early age.”
“Agreed. Dieting is one of the most common environmental triggers for eating disorders. I’ve battled two types of eating disorders since I was 15, set off from the pressures of dieting. Sure, not everyone who reads this book will develop and eating disorder, but I suspect that many at risk children will be drawn to this book like a moth to a flame.”
“Like the little girl in the CTV news piece. She wants to read the book because she ‘feels fat about herself.’ She’s not remotely overweight. She looks younger than 12.”

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