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A Forward Look at Maggie
It seems these days I can nary turn around without running headlong into some pro-ana propaganda or the other. Brought to my attention by our very own Sue Carter, the cleverly titled “children’s” book, Maggie Goes on a Diet, by Paul M. Kramer, represents everything wrong with society’s views about children and size today. I can’t shake the impression that the author planned on removing the ‘stigma’ that comes with ‘diet’ but instead, he does much the opposite and stigmatizes size itself. How? Let’s take a closer look. Debuting in October, the picture book has this as its cover:
First and foremost the imagery is so toxically iconic I feel slightly nauseous just by looking at it. A heavyset girl, drawn intentionally poorly no less, holding a dress several sizes too small for a living human to ever conceivably fit into, trying to play up the notion that there is a “skinny girl hiding within”. This is the first thing the eyes will be drawn to when this book is noticed on the shelf. It’s one of the single most self-destructive icons of the modern world, used time and time again in movies, TV series and more. The “if only I could fit in size X, I would be happy,” rationale becomes a cyclical self-justification in every case of anorexia and bulimia, which is far more destructive to one’s body image than most people realize.
Furthermore, from an artistic standpoint, this cover is just plain awful. The arms have no definable “joints” and thus kind of just go anywhere, ragdoll-style, and Maggie appears to have stolen the ugliest shirt from Charlie Brown’s wardrobe she could find. Maggie also appears to be several inches taller than her own reflection, which furthermore has a completely differently-shaped face and nose. On top of that, her hair is being reflected the wrong way. This is far more indicative of a girl who wants full-on plastic surgery more than ones who is merely a big girl. And it only worsens. From the publisher’s own site we have this blurb concerning the story of this book:
“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.” – Back cover of Maggie Goes on a Diet. Source: http://www.alohapublishers.com/index.php?page=book&id=5.
The wording here is truly venomous, implying that Maggie is too big to be considered “normal”. Really, let that sink in for a moment. This paragraph seems to be actively promoting the notion that parents need to put their kids on diets at dangerously young ages, completely ignoring the inherent danger of jeopardizing the metabolism during the most important phases of childhood development and growth. She’s only 14 for crying out loud.
Further, it also indicates that you aren’t allowed to have a positive self-image if you’re over a certain weight threshold, which is just nonsense. It also completely overlooks the possibility of other factors, like medical conditions, socio-economic status and, let’s not forget the most important aspect here, why Maggie can’t just be happy as she is. Kramer completely neglects these issues and for a guy who previously wrote a book on bullying (http://www.alohapublishers.com/index.php?page=book&id=6) he sure is eager to beat up on poor Maggie here.
Refreshingly, I’m not the first one to raise a stink about this. Aloha Publishers have already been getting grief for the book, and I encourage you all to respectfully contact them with your concerns and opinions on the book as well. The fact remains that while pro-ana trash will be made every day, if we peacefully resist their vitriolic hate, they will be forced to concede. We will tell publishers we will not buy the anti-size rhetoric and that we will protest and boycott those that encourage it. We will continue resisting until one day they understand that their hate is misaimed and hurtful, causing far more harm than any iota of good. Someday, I am sure they will understand.
Written by: Jeff M.
|"The sweet calm sunshine of October, now
Warms the low spot; upon its grassy mold
The pur0ple oak-leaf falls; the birchen bough
drops its bright spoil like arrow-heads of gold."
~William Cullen Bryant
|"Where there is no imagination there is no horror."
~Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr.