Maggie’s Diet is Just Sensationalist Literature
Who'd have thought an unreleased children's book could cause such media hysteria? Maggie Goes on a Diet by Paul Kramer has done just that, though, heaving news writers, bloggers, and parents everywhere into a frenzied state of indignation and protest.
The book, due out in October, follows the journey of a 14-year-old girl named Maggie. Maggie is overweight, unpopular, and a victim of verbal bullying by her classmates. Only when she goes on a diet, loses weight and joins the soccer team does she achieve "popularity and fame."
The highly disturbing messages of this children’s book have already been extensively covered by the media (LATimes, ABC, TIME, Huffington Post, to name a few). The internet is in uproar over the implication that children should diet, the association between weight and popularity, and (perhaps most horrifying) the body-dysmorphic cover image.
Paul Kramer defends the publication, claiming he is just trying to encourage children to adopt a healthier lifestyle. He sees Maggie's post-weight loss popularity as a product of her increased self-confidence and not as an endorsement of stigmatizing overweight children. "I’m not advocating, never did, that any child should go on a diet," said the author said in an interview with Fox News. "First of all, this is a change of lifestyle. This is not meant to be to go on a diet."
If that's his stance, Mr. Kramer clearly didn't put too much thought into his title. Everything from the cover to the content suggests that the author didn't intend to self-publish a children's book; he intended to create a sensation.
Let's stop giving Mr. Kramer the satisfaction.
As always, do encourage your children to eat well. Help them find physical activities they enjoy. Urge them to turn off the computer and play outside. Emphasize the confidence they can achieve, not from being skinny, but from being healthy.
You didn't need this book to help you do that, anyway.