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Dieting: it’s not just for grown-ups

Here’s a bit of armchair activism for you: hop over to the Amazon page for this new childrens’ book, due to be released in the not-too-distant future. Take in the name. It’s called Maggie Goes on a Diet. Feeling a little uncomfortable yet?

Now read the description. Fairly unpleasant, isn’t it? Fairly unpleasant, but nothing too horrendous. After all, teaching healthy eating habits is an admirable enterprise. But wait. What’s this I see? Suitable for ages 4-8? Four to eight?? FOUR TO EIGHT?

What we have here, Islanders, is a book, written by a man, telling pre-pubescent girls to diet. YOU THERE! YOU’RE PROBABLY TOO FAT! DON’T YOU WANT TO WEAR THIS PRETTY PINK FROCK?

BAN THIS SICK FILTH

Let’s take in the cover. It is, after all, the only thing we currently have to go on. This smiley girl with Pippi Longstocking plaits is probably Maggie. And Maggie is, lets face it, a little on the plump side. Maggie has a pretty pink frock. Girls like pretty pink frocks. But look! The pretty pink frock will not fit her – it is too small! Here’s a suggestion for your next book Mr. Kramer: write a book called MAGGIE’S MUM BUYS A DRESS THAT ACTUALLY FITS HER AND DOESN’T DEGRADE HER DAUGHTER, and get someone else to write it.

Young girls are surrounded by messages telling them they’re not good enough. But just in case they miss the billboard adverts, TV commercials, models and actors preaching impossible standards of beauty and culturally acceptable body sizes why not give them this? It’s never to early to introduce body fascism to your children!

Dieting Maggie is 14. Fourteen, incidentally, is the peak age for the developing anorexia nervosa. It doesn’t matter, though. Maggie could be 14 or 40. This book is aimed at children who have only just started school. Children who may be being widely socialized for the first time. Teen bodies and pre-pubescent bodies are very different places to live. To write about one as relevant to the other is irresponsible. To even suggest children with still developing bodies diet is irresponsible and cruel. As far as I can tell Mr Kramer is not a GP, nor a nutritionist, nor a child psychologist. He’s a kidlit author who self-publishes. Is he popular? I don’t know, but I certainly hope not.

I’ve already been over to Amazon and added a couple of appropriate tags to this book. Why not go add yours?

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53 responses »

  1. Even Slimming World, a company whose only purpose is dieting, won’t let under 11s participate at all, and have a very much modified program for 11 to 16 year olds aimed at filling up on healthy food (some of which would be restricted for adult dieters!) and reducing the use of food as treats and not even necessarily focusing on weight loss.

    I’m still very conflicted about the fact *I’ve* been dieting, as an adult with weight-correlated health problems, but I wholeheartedly agree it’s not even slightly appropriate for the age group they’re aiming it at. Hell, it would be nice to protect 14 year olds from that too. I was constantly trying to lose weight at that age and I look back and wish I’d known better.

    Reply
    • I wouldn’t mind so much if this was the kind of book you get given by healthcare professionals (I’d still mind, but it wouldn’t engender the same fury) but this is available through Amazon. I can’t imagine any parent in their right mind would buy it – not least because it’s vastly overpriced – but that it’s available at all is shocking. This is the problem of self-publishing – nowhere along the line has there been someone to go ‘hang on a minute…’.

      Reply
      • Michael Bufadis

        No one is forcing anyone to buy it. If someone wants to publish it that is fine. Who are you to play Book Police and say no you can’t publish that. Freedom of speech and freedom of press is a great right. If you are going to play Book Police why not start at the porn industry. Even that trash is protected by rights.

        Reply
        • You answer your own question – freedom of speech gives me the right to say ‘you can’t publish that’. Not that I actually said at any point that this book shouldn’t be published.

          Reply
  2. I hear you on this. There is way too much pressure placed upon youngsters at ages which are simply staggering. I was taken aback by the fact that the min ages for this are 4+ which is simply unaccetpable in my mind.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Think armchair activism gets you nowhere? You’re wrong! | TreasuryIslands

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  6. Catherine Charlton

    LOL, what an overreaction to an obvious attempt to curb childhood obesity – your obviously some sort of neo feminazi

    Reply
    • Aw, this is my first ‘feminazi’ comment. I’m so proud!

      Your comment would probably carry more weight if you knew the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’.

      Reply
      • I think I’m in love with Treasury Islands…

        Reply
      • Awesome! And thanks for pointing out the grammatical error.

        Reply
        • Catherine Charlton

          In my experience people who have no real arguement to present to a post often resort to pointing our grammer/spelling errors. Really who gives a toss about such skills these days when a computer can do it for you?

          Reply
          • Two more spelling errors in your text. People do give a toss about correct GRAMMAR, spelling and punctuation. And your computer didn’t do it for you, did it?

            Reply
          • Oh dear. You see that big thing above this string of comments? That *is* my argument. Your response, however, was an ad hominem attack on me as a person, rather than a skilful critique of my argument. The only reason your comment got through moderation is because it amused me.

            You will find your opinion to be the minority one here. That’s fine, as long as you remain respectful. If you’re not, your comments will return to their moderated status, and may not be published.

            Reply
      • victoria forgione

        Funny, I thought the same thing about the comment by Catherine Charlton. But then again, can coining the term feminazi make up for not knowing the difference between your and you’re? I think not. Curbing childhood obesity doesn’t happen by putting your 4-8 year old girl on a DIET!

        Reply
    • Because wanting children’s books to encourage diversity and discourage self-hatred is exactly the same as invading Poland…

      Reply
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  8. I would be curious to see what the book actually says, but the thing is, even it was a “Hey, kids, eat healthy!” positive message, this cover and title sink it from the start.
    You don’t have to be a “feminazi” to think so. You just have to be a mildly socially conscious person with a shred of intuition or sense. If Catherine Charlton has children, I would bet heavily that they need therapy, or will.

    Reply
  9. Another thing!
    Why is this book “an obvious attempt to curb childhood obesity?”
    Where do you see that??
    It may be attempting to do that, but the problem is the way it is presented.
    What it presents is an issue with body image. It doesn’t show kids having fun jumping rope and playing ball only to sit down to a snack of well-portioned carrot sticks, apples, and all-natural, high-fructose-corn-syrup-FREE fruit juice or milk. It shows a girl smiling at the idea of being skinnier to fit into her pretty pink, tiny little dress. And says “diet.” Doesn’t say, “How Maggie Got In Shape and Felt Really Good and Healthy and Therefore Better About Herself.”
    Many people would be happy to be in better shape, BUT the concept of being happy and healthy in relation to diet is WAY over the head of children. Throwing this at children will result in neuroses. Maybe Paul Kramer was trying to present the self-esteem boosting positive version of feeling healthy and good, and it just got inappropriate when he tried to present those ideas in a way children could understand… But guess what. That still makes this book an awful idea. Mainly because…? BECAUSE children don’t understand such concepts at all levels and therefore do not process them in healthy ways.

    Reply
    • Catherine Charlton

      “It doesn’t show kids having fun jumping rope and playing ball only to sit down to a snack of well-portioned carrot sticks, apples, and all-natural, high-fructose-corn-syrup-FREE fruit juice or milk. It shows a girl smiling at the idea of being skinnier to fit into her pretty pink, tiny little dress. And says “diet.” Doesn’t say, “How Maggie Got In Shape and Felt Really Good and Healthy and Therefore Better About Herself.””

      Good point.

      Reply
    • AWESOME! Nailed it!

      Reply
  10. (Last bone to pick): There is also no reason to say “neo feminazi,” as the term “feminazi” itself is newly created and without historical precedence. There is no *old* “feminazi,” therefore all uses of this term could only be applied to “neo,” i.e. “new/modern” feminazis.
    And it is slang. Pure slang and slander. Not really a word. And never really a word that ought to come from a woman. It’s a misogynistic word that was coined by those who were afraid to acknowledge the disparities between men & women in society.

    Okay. Bye bye now.

    Reply
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  12. Ooh, also? TreasuryIslands, you just hit Jezebel. ;)

    Reply
  13. Pingback: New children’s book encourages girls to diet | Keeping It Real Food

  14. Pingback: New Children’s Book Encourages Young Girls To Diet

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  18. Keep an eye out for my self-published winners:

    “Maggie is Happy With the Way She is and Couldn’t Give Two Fucks What Other People Think”
    ‎”Maggie Gets Pissed at the Junk Food in Schools and Sets a Vending Machine in the Cafeteria on Fire”
    “Maggie Hijacks a Tanker of High-Fuctose Cornsyrup Because She’s Tired of the Shit Being in Everything”

    and finally…

    “Maggie Organizes a Plus-Size Fashion Show at School and Looks Damn Good in Whatever the Hell She Wears”

    Reply
    • I just ran the fastest 12 miles of my life thanks to that book and my desire to fit into that “pretty pink frock”! Thanks, Paul Kramer!

      Why not take it a step further with a book called “Mommy and Daddy Don’t Love Me And Jesus Said I’m Going to Hell Because I’m Not a Size 0″?

      Reply
    • I think “Maggie Hijacks a Tanker of High-Fuctose Cornsyrup Because She’s Tired of the Shit Being in Everything” is definitely one to watch. I for one will definitely buy it.

      Reply
    • Tessa you rock!!!! Couldn’t have said it better!

      Reply
  19. This is the synopsis taken from the Aloha Publishing website (which appears to be owned and run by the author): “Maggie has so much potential that has been hiding under her extra weight. This inspiring story about a 14 year old who goes on a diet and is transformed from being overweight and insecure to a normal sized teen who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image.”

    So if a child doesn’t reach their potential it is because it is hiding under their weight – sorry, HER weight. She doesn’t learn to eat healthily, or should I say her parents who are the one’s responsible for her diet (in the sense of her regular eating habits, not regimented system of calorie counting, or expensive ready-made meals/shakes/protein bars/whatEVER), and/or start doing energetic things which are not necessarily exercise plans. She goes on a diet (by which I do mean regimented system blah blah blah). This is the only way to be ‘normal’ sized. She becomes NORMAL?!

    As someone who has watched a friend go through hell as her nine-year-old daughter recovers from a serious eating disorder (which she developed age 7) I am utterly HORRIFIED by the irresponsibility and ignorance of this man. The damage (quite apart from the hideous gender stereotyping of the cover) this could cause is incalculable.

    I support the idea that people be taught how to achieve a balanced diet and encouraged to include some form of exercise (even just walking more) into their lifestyle. But to tell a child that in order to be normal, self-confident or successful they must be a certain physicality is extremely dangerous. That this book is aimed at 4 to 8 year olds beggars belief.

    Reply
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  21. The fact that Paul M Kramer is writing children’s books is so ironic; I can’t even begin to say. The fact that Paul Kramer is writing books on obesity is even more ironic, considering the fact that he is, in fact, overweight. I have a few other titles that he might consider, however. How about this gem: “Don’t be sad. Prison is not that bad”. It is a charming story of a father that essentially abandoned his two children in NY and didn’t pay child support, until he was arrested at LaGuardia airport and taken into custody”. Or how about this one: “Fiduciary Trust is a must”. This is a story about a business owner that collected payroll taxes from his employees but never managed to send it on to the government. I am sure that these titles would just fly off the shelves. Children’s books indeed. Don’t make me laugh.

    Reply
  22. As a mother of a wonderful daughter who is now in recovery from an eating disorder I could not be more saddened at this addition to our culture’s focus on weight and appearance. However, eating disorders are about so much more than food, eating and body image.
    The ability to give and receive love and affection, to honestly asses your own skills and abilities, to constructively use anger…etc. Would that we could learn these so that we could teach our daughters! They would then be impervious to this kind of nonsense.

    Reply
  23. I wrote to the author. I suggest you do the same.

    Reply
  24. Perhaps, once they’ve been transformed into “a normal-sized teen” they could get some lingerie for 4-8 year olds, too. Irresponsible and sick, to say the least. I hope this man has no daughters if this is the body image he believes is healthy.

    Reply
  25. Perhaps, once they’ve been transformed into “a normal-sized teen” they could get some lingerie for 4-8 year olds, too. Irresponsible and sick, to say the least. I hope this man has no daughters if this is the body image he believes is healthy.

    Reply
  26. I was so appalled to find out about this book. I’m a writer and a teacher and an eating disorder survivor; this is not kosher. I also noticed that the author has a teenaged son, not a daughter. The publication of this book worries me! I’m so glad you started this movement… I’ll do my best to get the word out.

    Reply
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  28. You know, they say that the great thing about self-publishing is that it gets rid of the gatekeepers. Having seen this and some other self-published books, I’m really grateful for the gatekeepers.

    This book, for example, crossed my desk recently, written and self-published by a man unqualified in medicine, psychology, or child development:

    Is it just me, or is this deeply disturbing? Even the picture on the front, let alone the blurb on Amazon.

    Reply
    • Wow. That’s a special one. I can see why a book about masturbation for kids probably does have a place, but I’m concerned that this one is gendered (why can’t one book cover boys and girls? Sure, they do it differently, but the feelings surrounding it are the same), and that it’s written by someone with no credentials when it comes to discussing ‘sensitive’ subjects with kids, though I note he does have a psychology degree, which is something.

      But a strawberry? WTF? It’s totally okay to masturbate, if you’re a soft summer berry!

      Reply
  29. Pingback: Review: Maggie Goes on a Diet, Paul M Kramer | TreasuryIslands

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