The word “diet” is a funny one. Recently, it has sparked controversy in the title of Paul M. Kramer’s new book, Maggie Goes on a Diet. Every talk show has had at least a hand full of episodes dealing with weight issues and dieting, and it is no secret what shows like “The Biggest Loser” are about. However, this book is aimed at children, specifically girls, ages 6 and up.
Maggie is a 14-year-old, plus sized girl. She “goes on a diet and is transformed from being overweight and insecure to a normal-sized teen”. While making healthy choices and becoming active are things Maggie does to lose weight, this book makes some pretty large generalizations. While Maggie is still unhealthy, she is ridiculed by classmates and called a “fatty”. When she loses her weight, she becomes a very popular girl on the soccer team. Associating good health with popularity and poor health with having no friends gives a very one dimensional view on society. While it is true that when you are in better health you will most likely feel better about yourself, it does not necessarily mean that you can’t have friends if you are slightly overweight.
This is targeted for young children, beginning at age 6, which, for most people, is just too young. Teaching healthy choices to children to instill good habits that stick with them throughout adulthood is something that every parent should do. However, urging young girls to diet just doesn’t seem like the healthiest choice. It is not news that childhood obesity is rampant in the United States; the statistics are everywhere. But what we need to do is really encourage children to get active and make healthy decisions. “Dieting” is not something that is always healthy. Most diets are insanely hard to keep, and can often end up in failure, or an eating disorder. We must teach children that they can’t simply “go on a diet” and suddenly become the popular, thin girl that everyone wants to be friends with. You have to change your entire lifestyle, and that takes a lot of time and effort.
Many young girls are already not at peace with their bodies. Maggie Goes on a Diet does not appear to do a good job of telling children to love themselves and their bodies, while attempting to make healthy choices and staying active. The attitudes people have towards their bodies are harsh enough, and young children should start out their lives by loving themselves and being as healthy as they can instead of cultivating negative views of those who are not stick-thin.