They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but today I’m going to make an exception.
Come October bookshelves will be stacked with a new children’s book called Maggie Goes on a Diet. The cover shows a heavy girl holding a pink dress – sizes too small for her – as she stares longingly at her skinny reflection in a large mirror.
According to the publisher’s website, “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.”
The book’s age range is listed at 6-12 years old by Barnes and Noble where you can pre-order the book now.
Book Causes Concern
Now, I haven’t read this book yet but I’m concerned. I’m all for helping girls develop their confidence and a positive self image but I don’t think promoting dieting is the way to go about this. Girls need to learn that confidence comes from within, from their character, skills and abilities, not their bodies.
There is also the danger of glorifying dieting and being skinny. Girls need to learn that healthy eating and exercise are important – not dieting and being thin. Girls also need to learn to accept and respect all body types, not just slender ones.
Fear of Fat
Just this month I covered a study that found that nearly half of the 3- to 6-year-old participants surveyed said they worried about being fat. This fear of fat and body consciousness is very real for young girls throughout their adolescence and beyond.
A book about a girl going on a diet and becoming the school soccer star does nothing to dispel body image concerns. On the contrary, I would argue that a book like this could in all likelihood heighten body consciousness and negatively for girls with crippling self-esteem. In addition, presenting dieting as a quick fix is extremely problematic. Girls need to learn to take care of their bodies through healthy eating and exercise, not dieting.
What do you think? Are you worried about this book or is it too soon to tell?
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Photo credit: Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography (D. Sharon Pruitt) used under a Creative Commons license.