This post officially marks the start of a new weekly series. Every Thursday, I’ll post a writing prompt that focuses on either parenting or family, as well as my answer. And then I’ll hold my breath and pray that you readers will post your own responses to the prompt in the comments section.
Here we go.
When this book was first published, it became an instant controversy given the subject matter and that fact that it is, according to www.amazon.com, geared towards young girls with an eight- year or older reading level. Also according the www.amazon.com, this book describes a fourteen-year old ‘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’. As a parent, do you feel books about dieting are encouraging or detrimental to an overweight child between the ages of eight and sixteen?
My first reaction is to be shocked and a bit horrified that such a book exists for kids. Yeah, we want our kids to read books about kids that serve as great role models, but one that encourages dieting at such a young age? I find that hard to stomach. I would dare suggest that anyone eighteen and younger cannot and should not mentally handle responsible and successful dieting without the help of a physician (and that, of course, would only be in cases of extreme obesity that has become life threatening). Pretty much every girl from eight on thinks they aren’t as pretty or skinny or cool as their friends. So they decide to diet in an effort to gain something that seems just out of their reach. After losing a couple of pounds a child is more apt to feel the triumph and think, ‘hey, maybe if I try even harder, I can lose more’. And suddenly she is tumbling down that slippery slope into an eating disorder to shed pounds faster.
Want to know how I know? Because I did it in high school. But that’s a whole other story.
THIS story goes that Maggie ends up losing weight and suddenly because a ‘star soccer player’–and that isn’t usually how it happens in real life. Losing weight isn’t necessarily going to get you on that team or make you automatically have more friends or catch the eye of a special someone. Such goals are superficial and although they might be important to teens or tweens, playing them out in book form can make the reader think that THIS is what is valued–instead of self-confidence, etc.
What it boils down to is if my child was overweight and needed to diet (per physician’s advice), would I buy her this book? No. She doesn’t need to learn that beautful, skinny people live happily ever after. She needs to learn that dieting should be for a person’s health and well-being. She needs to learn that dieting is tough and can be a long road. And most importantly, she needs to do it for herself.
What do you think of the above book? Please write your response to the prompt in the comments section.