So I posted a link on Facebook to a book that I'd heard about recently. It's a children's book, aimed at children aged 4 to 8 according to Amazon. The book's title is "Maggie Goes on a Diet." Molly is 4.
No, I am not making this up. And, no, I am not the first blogger to voice her outrage at this. I got several comments after my posting on Facebook, and I could not get it out of my mind. The whole concept was bothering me so much all day, I actually missed three turns while driving. So, instead of typing a huge, long response on FB, I decided to rant on this here ol' blog. Lucky readers, huh?
The gist of the story is that a 14-year-old girl is overweight. She gets teased and made fun of. Quote from the book: "She was called fatty and chubby and other names that were very cruel." Then, she decides to go on a diet, eat healthier foods and exercise. She loses weight, joins the soccer team, and "More and more people were beginning to know Maggie by name. Playing soccer gave her popularity and fame."
Lots of the comments were about how parents have to be proactive in making sure their kids eat healthy and get exercise, etc. Of course, I agree with that. I've written many a post about that very thing.
My main issue with isn't about all the being healthy stuff. My huge problem with this book is that it is saying that it is ok to judge or be judged on your appearance. I know girls have a hard enough time with body image. Experts are saying they are seeing 5 and 6-year-olds diagnosed with anorexia. Why, oh, why would anyone read a book to a child that says it's ok for kids to tease other kids based on their looks, and you can only have friends if you are skinny and good at sports?
I know childhood obesity is a big issue and that we as a society need to reverse that trend. However, bullying is also hugely prevalent today, and a book that highlights name-calling is not the answer to the childhood obesity epidemic.
I already know I will face an uphill battle with my daughters' self-esteem. I will have to fight the media and their peers. The author insists he doesn't think "diet" is a bad word, and is unapologetic about his book and title. I don't agree with that. Molly is learning to read right now, and one of the words in her workbook is "fat." I do not even like when she has to read that. Because then she asks what that means. What kind of explanation do you give to a 4-year-old about that? Apparently, according to this book, you should say "fat people do not have friends and are sad all the time, so fat people need to go on diets. Then, they will be skinny, happy and popular." Well, I refuse to play that game.
I will continue to be a good example to my daughter. I will continue to run in races. I will eat and serve vegetables. We will go outside and play. And, most importantly, I will not read my 4-year-old daughter a book that teaches her that other people will make fun of her if they don't like what she looks like, and that she should just change herself to stop the other kids' teasing and bullying.
Now, Rant #2:
As I'm reading about all this diet drama for children, along comes a story about a t-shirt that was being sold by JC Penney, which said, "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me." Yes. Seriously.
Now, to JC Penney's credit, after receiving who knows how many complaints, they pulled the shirt. But, just the fact that someone (well, lots of people really) along the line saw this shirt and didn't see anything wrong with the message baffles me.
What is the message? You can't be pretty and smart? It's more important to be pretty than smart? Boys are smarter than girls? Obviously, I have problems with any one of these. Not to be snotty, but as a girl in school, I always did my homework and got good grades, so I was probably considered a "smart" girl. I personally think it's awesome for girls to use their brains. That's why God gave 'em to us.
And, again, I guess all I can do is set a good example for my girls by showing them how awesome their own smarts are. No matter what some stupid t-shirt says.
But, that's just me. And, I'm done with my rants now. You can all continue your day.