“Maggie Goes on a Diet”

Well now. You’d think with a title like that people would be upset. And they are. I mean, I’ve never seen so many people take such a disliking to a book that hasn’t even been released to the public yet. However, after reading most of what people are saying about the book and it’s content, I completely understand why so many people want it to never it book shelves.

Book Cover

The photo to the left is the cover of the book. The description is as follows: This book is about a 14 year old girl who goes on a diet and is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal sized girl who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image. Written by Paul Kramer, Maggie is apparently appropriate for Grade levels 1 and up. Kramer had this to say about all the controversy. “My intentions were just to write a story to entice and to have children feel better about themselves, discover a new way of eating, learn to do exercise, try to emulate Maggie and learn from Maggie’s experience.” Good intentions or not, the approach was, according to many parents and readers, terrible. (And really? What the hell does “normal sized” mean?)

The underlining message in the book, from what I can tell, is that by becoming “skinny,” all of Maggie’s dreams come true and all her problems disappear. This message, although very “magical,” is highly unrealistic. In an article written by The Checkout Girl, she writes about how being thinner seemed to actually cause most of her problems. “Being thin didn’t prevent these things, because being thick was not the problem,” she wrote on rvanews.com. In the real world, it doesn’t matter what you look like. Problems are problems and just because you might be thinner than the person next to you, doesn’t mean that that person doesn’t have an unhappy life.

Joanne Ikeda, co-founding director of the UC at Berkeley’s Center on Weight and Health, said this to ABC.com. “I wouldn’t want a child to read this … because they might, in fact, try to do this and fail. What is that going to do to their self-esteem?” She went on to say that Kramer’s actions may have been, “well-intentioned but very misguided. It reminds me of the old saying ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread.’ It’s unfortunate that he didn’t consult with people experienced in treating pediatric overweight.”

As for parents and book lovers, many of them are on the “ban the book” side of the fence, while others are on the “it’s just a book” side of the fence. Let’s be real for a minute. It is in fact just a book and yes the great thing about this country is that we can decide what not to purchase for our kids. Unfortunately we can’t stop them from borrowing it from a friend, or coming across it at a library, or even watching Maggie on the news. But we can reassure our children that being different isn’t a bad thing. Yes obesity is a problem in our country. But bullying is just as bad. Rewriting history is bad. Not teaching the difference between right and wrong is bad. The list goes on and on.

The best comment I found on Amazon’s discussion board was a poem written by David Vittoria. “Paul is a man who gave it a shot, And wrote a book for girls with a troubling plot. ‘Go on a diet’ this trash does state, While it does nothing but further misunderstanding and hate. Mr. Kramer to you I offer advice: Stick to Maui and it’s beaches and go have more shaved ice. But stay away from writing books, About girls and food. Instead take a run and get some exercise, dude.”

Will you let Maggie in your home? Please feel free to comment away below!

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