Don't want Maggie's diet no more?
A simple search on Amazon for the self-published book by author Paul M. Kramer will direct you to a page filled with comments slating the book as harmful and outrageous and tags written by users that include ‘irresponsible publishing’, ‘body fascism’ and ‘give your children neuroses’. It seems that a boycott of Amazon could be on the horizon with multitudes of parents withdrawing any orders from the site as they don’t want to be complicit in what they see as a form of child abuse.
And so why has this book caused so much controversy? The cover of the book reveals a round-figured girl looking wistfully in the mirror at a slimmer version of herself with the title overhead ‘Maggie goes on a diet’. The word ‘diet’ has many negative connotations and there are fears that the book could cause damaging psychological effects on young people who associate dieting with being ‘fat’. Worried parents have commented on the book calling it an advocate for eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. They say that the book implicitly links being skinny with being popular as Maggie goes from being called 'fatty' and 'chubby' before weight loss to ‘Playing soccer gave Maggie popularity and fame’. The author Paul Kramer has been labelled a misogynist because of the almost exclusively female demographic the book is aimed at and also a hypocrite after appearing on an ABC News interview in which his own weight caused one viewer to rewrite the book’s title to ‘Paul Kramer goes on a diet’.
Mr Kramer defended his book clarifying that the book wasn’t intended to promote dieting for children; it was in fact the story of a teenager who was changing her lifestyle and enhancing her life. He declared that the definition of the word ‘diet’ in the title had been misconstrued saying that of it’s multiple meanings he intended the word to mean the food and drink that constructed Maggie’s daily diet. The objective was to focus on eating healthy and nutritious foods and enjoying a sport rather than going on a strict dieting plan. Mr Kramer also said that Maggie is in fact an overweight 14 year old and so the book was never intended to promote dieting to children. However, Amazon has listed the book as appropriate for reading levels of children aged four to eight years old.
As information emerged just this month that in the past three years, more than 2,000 children have received hospital treatment for anorexia it is obvious as to why the book has received such an angry response from parents. Also, the Institute for Child Health reported that three in every 100,000 children under the age of 13 are suffering from an eating disorder. Will this book serve to increase the paranoia some children suffer regarding their size and the popularity they receive as a result of it?
As the CEO of the weight loss program 'All About Weight', Alisson Wetton declares the book a 'dangerous weapon promoting the message of body dissatisfaction among a highly vulnerable age group’, should Amazon stop the sale of the book on their website in order to protect a nation of seemingly insecure children?