Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The F Word
Tub o' lard. Fatty. Fatso. Chubby wubby. Stay Puff. Ecto plasmic pudding belly. Just a handful of the insults children would throw at me (sometimes accompanied by rocks) as I would walk home from school. As an adult, it still disturbs me the level to which some kids can take their hatred for another child, simply based on their appearance. Kids, while they are wonderful, can be completely awful. Thinking on all of this, when I found out this morning on Good Morning America that a new children's book, Maggie Goes on a Diet, is being released, I find myself more than a little disappointed.
I would like to preface this with the fact that I have not read the book. It hasn't been released yet, however there are multiple message boards and blogs covering this and the better part of them are pissed. I watched the segment, featuring the author Paul Kramer, who, might I add, is not thin and sports a deep tan. Maybe his next book should be about kids avoiding skin cancer?
The storyline is about a young girl named Maggie, who is overweight and teased at school. At one point she is raiding the refrigerator in the middle of the night, to feed her pain. Maggie decides she wants to lose weight, and through diet and exercise she does, and in the end the same kids who were bullying her are now her buddies.
Some dude (apparantly not Samuel Johnson) once said, "The path to hell is paved with good intentions." I want to assume that in writing this book Mr. Kramer had the good intention of encouraging kids to eat well and be active. The problem with his approach, however, is that it encourages the bullies. It shows that if you mentally abuse a kid long enough, they might change so you will like them. I know it's a broad step, but children think in broad steps. Children don't see between the lines, they see what you present to them. I can't envision that somewhere out there in the world, there is a bully reading this book and thinking, "I should encourage that chubby kid in my class to exercise, so they can feel better about theirself." No way. That bully is going to take that book and use it to beat the crap out of an overweight kid.
All I am saying is this: being a kid, especially a little girl, is hard enough. Let's rethink our approach on health and body image when it comes to kids. Encourage eating well and exercise, but also teach kids to show love and support to other people of all shapes and sizes. To be accepting and tolerant, and to lift up and not to tear down. Why don't you write a book about that?