Are you concerned that you child has yet to develop any body image issues and still remains blissfully unaware that society wants her to be as thin as possible? Luckily, there's now a kids book to initiate her into the world of dieting.
Maggie Goes On A Diet is a self-published book by children's book author Paul M. Kramer. It's currently available for pre-order and will be released on October 16. The description reads:
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 book may feature a teenager, but it's aimed at a much younger audience. Amazon lists the reading level as "Ages 4-8" and according to Barnes and Noble it's "Age Range: 6 to 12." Either way, encouraging kids this age to diet is, to put it delicately, totally fucked up.
It's easy to see Kramer's logic here. The childhood obesity epidemic is such a huge concern right now that the only children's book addressing the topic is sure to be a hit. Many children in America are at an unhealthy weight, but the way to address the problem isn't to give them a book that says following a strict eating regimen will make all of their dreams come true. We don't have much to judge the book on right now, but as the children's book blog Treasury Islands notes, just the message of the cover art is horrible:
This smiley girl with Pippi Longstocking plaits is probably Maggie. And Maggie is, lets face it, a little on the plump side. Maggie has a pretty pink frock. Girls like pretty pink frocks. But look! The pretty pink frock will not fit her – it is too small! Here's a suggestion for your next book Mr. Kramer: write a book called MAGGIE'S MUM BUYS A DRESS THAT ACTUALLY FITS HER AND DOESN'T DEGRADE HER DAUGHTER, and get someone else to write it.
If a doctor decides a child needs to lose weight, that can be accomplished by parents preparing more nutritious meals, encouraging more activity, and teaching healthy eating habits. Pre-pubescent girls, who are already starting to get the message from society that their bodies are never quite right the way they are, don't need a book that explains life could be better, if they just lose a few pounds. It's fine to show kids how to lead a healthy lifestyle, but the concept of "going on a diet" — and all the obsessive behavior and self-loathing that can go along with it — shouldn't be part of childhood.