Tag Archives: girls

maggie goes on a diet?!?!

‘Maggie Goes On A Diet’ is a new children’s book, authored and self-published by Paul M. Kramer, due out this October and geared towards readership as young as four-years-old. It tells the story of a 14-year-old adolescent girl who becomes a school soccer star after losing weight by going on a diet and limiting snacks, etc. Aren’t there more effective ways of being a soccer star than going on a diet?

But, perhaps this is really a book about an adolescent girl who gives in to the peer and societal pressures to look a certain way in order to feel good about herself? One of the first things I noticed was the distorted image in the mirror (body image distortion being a hallmark symptom of eating disorders). The second thing I noticed was that Maggie is not holding up an all-star soccer uniform, she is holding up an ultra-thin dress that she is hoping to fit into, one even smaller than her trimmed down mirror image.

As you might imagine, the story has become the target of tremendous controversy and criticism. Many reviews point to the irresponsibility of negatively targeting the self-esteem of young girls, Maggie’s acceptance of the bullying she experiences directed toward her weight, and the sheer danger of exposing children to these messages.

Many are up in arms and speaking out about what they think:
“for any parent to buy [this book] would be unforgivable.”
“4-8 year-olds should not be taught that dieting is a healthy choice.”
“The idea of this book makes me want to either cry or scream – actually both.”
“This is a dangerous book.”

Hundreds of reviews have addressed how this book, and the like, will contribute to early-onset eating disorders. Many have gone so far as to ask that Mr. Kramer remove the book from the market.

Mr. Kramer maintains that his book is not aimed at preschoolers and stated to Fox News that “I’m not advocating, never did, that any child should go on a diet. First of all, this is a change of lifestyle. This is not meant to be to go on a diet.” Here is his side of the story.

So… is this truly a case of judging a book by its cover (the book has not yet been released) or is there enough here to warrant the verbal barbs it has suffered thus far? What do you think?

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awww, you’re so cute!

I let this article go without blogging about it but since then, I have gotten lots of emails about it (thank you to everyone who is thinking of me!). So, I figured what the heck! Before I get to the article, I want to give you some statistics for perspective:

  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets – Gustafson-Larson, A.M., & Terry, R.D. (1992). Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth-grade children. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 818-822.
  • 42% of 1st – 3rd grade girls want to be thinner
  • 51% of 9-10 year old girls feel better about themselves when they are dieting
  • 9% of 9 year olds have vomited to lose weight
  • 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their body
  • 78% of 18 year old girls are unhappy with their body
  • The #1 wish of girls 11-17 years old is to lose weight – Maine, M. (2000) Body Wars: Making Peace with Women’s Bodies. Carlsbad, CA: Gurze Books.
  • 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat – Dove Self Esteem Fund Initiative
AND WHEN THESE GIRLS GROW UP…
  • 67% of women 15-64 withdraw from life-engaging activities, like giving an opinion and going to the doctor, because they feel badly about their looks – Dove Self Esteem Fund Initiative
AND THE BOYS…
  • 45% of boys are unhappy with their bodies
  • Nearly 1/3 of teenage boys engage in unhealthy and dangerous behaviors to control the weight and the size of their body, such as skipping meals, refusing to eat, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives. – Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). I’m, Like, SO Fat! New York: Guilford.
Lisa Bloom wrote a thoughtful piece for the Huffington Post that addresses the ways in which we engage with and speak to little girls. She writes about the power of speaking to our girls in such a way that calls attention to their bodies, appearance, clothing, hair, etc., teaches them that their appearance is more important than anything else.

We need to recognize our children as unique individuals beyond their appearance. What precisely? Intelligence, interests, abilities, intentions, thoughtfulness, etc. I want to challenge you, and us all, to begin to shift the ways in which we address our children, both girls AND boys, and to show them that they are more than their appearance. OH! and don’t forget to actively listen to what they have to say! Let them feel heard and let them know that what they have to say and share really matters to you.