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?
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?