Can any of my readers relate to the above picture? I'm willing to bet a few of you have struggled with your weight, or have even battled eating disorders. For most of us, these struggles began pretty young, when we were barely teenagers, most likely. My own battle began when I first saw the scale crawl over 90 lbs, and I had a full-out panic attack. I think I was eleven years old. My mother had been heavy in my younger years and relentlessly punished herself for it, losing a hundred pounds and keeping it off by hardly eating. She would still complain about every curve, and I grew up using that same mirror. I still managed to be a size 14 by the time I was in high school, and have fought to stay under that ever since, never dipping below an 8 no matter how hard I try. Like so many American women, I have learned to hate my body, to associate food with guilt, and to feel like clothes shopping is a battlefield full of disappointments. I would hope that if I ever have daughters, I can raise them to love themselves no matter what size they are, but I don't have high hopes of sparing them, given how deep-seeded my own body-issues are.
Now, I read that there's a new children's book out. It tells the story of a fourteen-year-old girl named Maggie, and it is just about the worst idea I have ever heard of: Maggie Goes on a Diet. Can we all pause a moment to let the intense wave of rage pass over?
I mean, I know there's a childhood obesity epidemic in this country. I know kids need to move, to make healthier eating choices. But, encouraging young girls to diet? WRONG MESSAGE. And, take a look at the cover:
Does this look like a book aimed at teenagers? No; it looks like something an eight-year-old would check out. Let's not kid ourselves here: girls as young as six are reporting the desire the lose weight, and the last thing they need is a book about a girl who loses weight and becomes popular and successful. I mean, really. I am old enough to know how stupid that idea is, and I still feel, deep in the recesses of my id, like being a size 0 would somehow solve all my problems.
My God, what a horrible little book. Maybe Maggie can get skinnier by making friends with those popular girls, Ana and Mia.