We live in an amazing world. One that’s filled with opportunities. Wonder. Beauty. And from time to time even a little magic. Despite that at least being my perspective, being a girl in today’s world is not always easy. There’s undoubtedly more opportunities for girls and women than ever before, but I also think in certain circumstances, more pressure.
Diet Books Are Not For Girls
Pressure to perform and achieve. But mostly pressure to look a certain way and be a certain size. Surrounded (or should I say bombarded) with messages of the thin ideal, beauty norms, fast moving fashion and yes, sexualised advertising and concepts, many girls are growing up with shaky self worth and body image. We know this because they tell us so. They’re feelin it. They really are.
We can all play a part in helping children feel more positive and loving about themselves no matter what they look like and if you would like my tips for parents on how to do this, please take a look at this guest post on Childhood 101. It was written some time ago now but all the sentiments about taking care of you, not dieting, not putting yourself down and more, all still ring true. I often suggest positive things people can do to help themselves and others they love and I’m not afraid to also suggest things they outright shouldn’t do. Today I have another shouldn’t.
If you have a daughter or a loved little girl, tween or teen in your life I implore you to not buy this book called ‘Maggie Goes on a Diet.’ Where I do begin? Let’s take a look at the description that comes with the book written by Paul M.Kramer.
“Maggie has so much potential (Of course she does! She’s a girl with her whole life ahead of her) that has been hiding under her extra weight. (Uh-oh. How did that happen? Maggie did have potential but now it’s been found out she’s got ’extra weight’ she of course is ashamed and cannot be living up to all she is meant to be.)
This inspiring story about a 14 year old who goes on a diet (What? A children’s book that is encouraging girls to go on diets? Diets we know don’t work. Diets we know are dangerous. Diets we know can set a child on a path to an eating disorder or disordered eating. Excuse me while I look up the meaning of the word inspirational) and is transformed from being overweight and insecure (Why is it that because of the way Maggie looks that automatically means she has to be insecure? Um.
Is the book actually trying to shame children? I’m losing the inspiration here!) to a normal sized teen (And what pray tell is that?) who becomes the school soccer star. (Ahhh…yes. Right on. Because we all know that it is only thin children who are active and enjoy and are good at sport and activities.) Through time, exercise and hard work, (Cue dieting shame. Deprivation. Closer steps to an eating disorder) Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image.” (Of course she does!
Because it’s not possible to have positive body image and feel loving and confident about yourself if you’re not thin. Someone please play the Cinderella theme song. The happy ending has arrived and of course Maggie gets to fit into that gorgeous pink dress she’s looking at longingly in the mirror.)
This book is an abomination and I pray it never makes it to print which is meant to happen in October. Without even reading a word, clearly based on what can be seen from the cover and blurb, this book is shaming, dangerous, ill informed and should never be read or given to a child.
And I am not the only person and professional who believes so. This discussion in Amazon regarding the upcoming book is filled with comments that make it very clear this is a book that will do nothing more than promote body hatred, futile dieting, disordered eating and the potential descent into an eating disorder.
Some of you may be saying – but what about Maggie’s health? Shouldn’t we be trying to help children be healthy? Absolutely we should but believing that weight and health are inextricably linked is a mistake. The best way to learn more about this can be found in this post I wrote entitled ‘What To Do If You Think Your Child Is Overweight.’
It’s filled with body positive tips that can support any child to feel amazing about themselves no matter what their shape or size and be healthy too. And if you are looking for a truly wonderful book though that you can read with a child about food, weight and being body positive can I recommend “Full Mouse, Empty Mouse: A Tale of Food and Feelings” by Dina Zeckhausen.
It’s a beautifully written story that has a special emphasis on helping children to understand why sometimes when we experience negative feelings like sadness or loneliness, that we can feel like eating more than is comfortable for us, or turning away from food and not eating enough. It’s a beautiful story for children that they will love and will be a delight for you to read.
Again. I repeat. Diet books are not for girls. Or boys. It’s bad enough that millions of dollars are spent by adults on diet books that miserably fail them. Let’s not encourage our precious children to start thinking they need to buy diet books or go on diets. Let’s finally wake up to the fact that dieting is futile and books such as this one do nothing more than teach children they should ashamed of their bodies and try to restrict food to fit an ideal that they, and we, don’t even get to set.