With titles such as Do Not Dread Wetting the Bed and Divorce Stinks, self-publishing books about tough parenting topics isn’t new to author Paul Kramer. What may be new to him, however, is the buzz surrounding his latest not-yet-released title, Maggie Goes on a Diet.
The product description for this title on Amazon.ca states that “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.”
Now, I’ll go out on a limb and assume that with childhood obesity being as prevalent as it is right now, Paul Kramer had good intentions with this book. But for me, as the mother of two young girls, good intentions are just not enough.
As parents, we want to raise our girls with positive self-images. We need to teach them that fuelling their young bodies with healthy and nutritious food is a good choice. We need to teach them that being active is a good choice. But above all, we need to teach them to love their bodies. We do not need to teach them about dieting.
For children, tweens and teens, there is a fine line between healthy eating and dieting, and an even finer line between dieting and disordered eating. I worry about the dangers of seeing books like this on the shelves. I worry about seeing shirts like this on the market. I worry about seeing mannequins like this in stores. I worry what messages these kinds of things are sending to our children.
Personally, I would rather my children read books such as Maggie Plays Soccer or Maggie Visits a Farmers Market. We need to start from ground zero and teach; we do not need to shame them with pictures of poor, dumpy and chubby Maggie who will never wear that pink prom dress because she’s just too fat.
What do you think about this book? Is it well-intentioned, or does it cross the line?
—Ali, senior associate editor of CF.ca