I don't want you to buy Maggie Goes On A Diet. I shouldn't even be telling you about the book, because it appalls me to think of it getting in the hands of a parent or -- sigh -- a child. This as-yet unpublished, self-published book would go unnoticed except that people like me are frothing at the mouth and (the modern equivalent) blogging like mad about it.
But, it's out there. The media is delighted about the backlash, and I'm sure the author is delighted at the attention. So, let's talk about it.
Why would the same promotional materials be labelled "necessary" and "dangerous?" Why would people object to children taking care of their health, eating well, exercising, and making new friends?
Let me explain. Maggie Goes On A Diet's premise is that a 14-year old is teased for her weight and decides to diet and exercise -- transforming her from ostracized to popular, from unhealthy to a soccer star. It sounds like every Cinderella, Karate Kid, coming of age story out there, right? The problem is that both the problem and the solution are flawed and even harmful. Under this storyline are grave errors in children's health advice.
- Bullying is not resolved by fixing the victim.
Here's why I do the work I do, and why F.E.A.S.T. is holding an international conference about parents and eating disorders in November: because the public needs to understand that the pressure on children and young people to diet is immense -- even normalized in these days of "obesity epidemic" terror. The growing objection to this book is about parents who know the dangers of dieting and weight bullying reaching out to say that there ARE good books to read on this topic, and this one isn't one of them.