Maggie Goes On a Diet. So Did Amanda, and It Sucked.

This morning, as I was getting ready to go to work, I was distracted by the story on the Today show.  Paul M. Kramer, an author and self-publisher, recently wrote a book called, “Maggie Goes on a Diet”.  (It should be noted that the book’s intended audience is 4-8).  In it, the main character is overweight, and is ridiculed by others at school.  So, she decides to do something about it, and loses weight.  As a result of her safe weight loss, she becomes popular and joins the soccer team.  She is also very proud of herself.

Do I think this is necessarily “anorexia bait”, as others have said?  Not necessarily.  Do I think this is quality reading for a four year old?  Not at all.  Like I have stated numerous times before, I don’t believe ED’s happen because of 1 triggering factor.  However, OVER MY DEAD BODY would you see me reading this to my soon-to-arrive baby girl.

My first problem with the book is that it addresses happiness from the outside in.  The message “If you want to have internal happiness, you must change the external first.”  Any buddhist or meditation flip-through book will tell you that you can achieve personal happiness at ANY moment, regardless of size or financial status or hair color.  Changing your weight can potentially do nothing for your happiness, and all the temporary external gains Maggie received from weight loss (popularity, etc) would eventually fall away.

My second problem with this book is that it does place the anorexia-predisposed young lady at risk for a major trigger.  Let me tell you a story about a young 12 year old girl.  The young lady in question was an intelligent, compassionate girl who loved to sing and help others.  She was teased relentlessly by peers in school about her weight, until she decided to do something about it.  She decided to lose 60 lbs in 5 months, until her period stopped and she grew a fine layer of hair on her arms due to temperature changes in her body.  She began to believe that her new, beautiful, waif identity was all she was good for, and she genuinely believed this until her mid-twenties.  But man, were those compliments from the popular kids good.

Amanda went on a diet, and it sucked.

And it turned into an eating disorder.

Third, I just don’t think any 4-8 year old needs to have “diet” in her vocabulary.  A balance of healthy foods?  Sure.  In an interview on Fox news, Kramer contradicts himself and says he believes no child should ever go on a diet.  Moments later, he acknowledges that Maggie does indeed go on a diet.

I truly don’t think this guy had the worst intentions – I really don’t – I just think he’s stuck in the trance that the rest of the country is, the trance that says “LESS WEIGHT MORE HAPPY”.  I think he was poorly informed.

And, this book sends a message that says, “Hey bullies!  Keep doin what you’re doin!  The victims of your words will change themselves so you can keep being an asshole!”

And one last question…why is the central character of a weight loss book a GIRL?

(Image provided by www.theweekmagazine.tumblr.com)

5 thoughts on “Maggie Goes On a Diet. So Did Amanda, and It Sucked.

  1. Hi, I came across this book earlier this week on another blog I follow. I think the title of the book and the cover illustration are so wrong! And for it to be targeted at such a young age group is even worse! I’m guessing he went for the title and cover for a shock effect! I can’ say anything about the context of the book since I haven’t read it but just to have a book like this out there is crazy!

    1. Hi Naz,

      I am in total agreement…It was hard for me to understand how he sat there on the Today show and justified his book. I hope all of the negative response will at least give him some perspective on how his book could be hurtful to young ladies out there. Thanks for responding!

  2. It’s a book which encourages children to eat healthy and exercise. I don’t see how this is a bad thing. If anything, it should draw attention to parents who are feeding their children bad foods. It even discourages shaming fat people, calling them cruel.

    1. Hi Walter,

      Thanks for the feedback. Encouraging kids to eat healthy and exercise is definitely not a bad thing, but I think maybe there’s a different way of wording it. Kramer seemed to think people wouldn’t “relate” to the book had he entitled it “Maggie eats healthy”…but I disagree. I was an overweight kid and I’d be just as attracted to that title as the other one. I also don’t think popularity is ultimately an important thing to gain in this life, especially as the result of weight loss. It’s a book about changing yourself externally to win yet other external gains, which in the end, aren’t integral to a child’s well-being.

  3. I do agree, the book’s title should be changed, as the current one “Goes on a diet” does not imply a true lifestyle change. “Maggie eats healthy” would be a much better title.

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