Open Letters Friday, Volume 62: The Douchebag Children’s Diet Book Edition

by kim on August 19, 2011 · 22 comments

in politics, size acceptance

Open Letters Friday is a segment here at PCL for your reading and writing enjoyment. I’ll share with you some of my open letters for the week and you’ll get the opportunity in comments to share yours. Now, tell me, who do you need to write to this week?

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Dear Paul Kramer:

I only have one letter this week and it’s for you, Mr. Kramer.  I know you don’t know me, but your name will be listed on this blog frequently due to this insanity:

Complete and utter bullshit.

Yes, it’s a children’s book called Maggie Goes On a Diet.  It’s aimed at children.  CHILDREN.  A book about dieting is aimed at children.  Let me quote the description on Barnes & Noble’s website:

This book is about a 14 year old girl who goes on a diet and is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal sized girl who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image.

Really?  So basically you’re telling every young girl out there to go step on a scale and proceed to starving herself and exercising like crazy just to meet some ideal and then they can have positive body image?  Wow.

There aren’t even words to describe how pissed off this makes me.  As a woman who went through severe body issues as a child and did, in fact, diet way too young, I cannot even begin to tell you how devastating your book will be to the girls who read it.  I also find it interesting that your main character is a girl because, you know, all young girls need to hear that message.

Obviously you know NOTHING about mental or physical health, Mr. Kramer.  The fact is that dieting at that age (either 14, the age Maggie is in the book or 6-12, the age group the book is aimed at) is completely detrimental to one’s health.  Did you know that 95% of all diets fail?  Yes, that’s right, diets DON’T WORK.  And for a growing child to be on a diet is eliminating important nutrients from their diet and possibly opening them up to a lifetime of health problems.  I guess you also missed the memo that BMI is not a good measure of health.  Also, you may have missed the part where more deaths are caused by being underweight than overweight.

But more than that, Mr. Kramer, your book is a glowing example of the size discrimination going on in this country right now.  Usually it’s masked in a movement to get kids to eat better and move more when really it’s an attempt at making fat kids thin (something that will never happen, mind you).  But you’ve taken it to new levels.  Actually promoting dieting for children is basically handing them an eating disorder on the spot.

Should kids learn what foods are good and not so good and engage in physical activity?  Absolutely.  But they also need to love their bodies and themselves as is because that’s the most important thing.  At an age where body image is becoming increasingly important, you’re trying to throw this nonsense down their throats.   Not only is it wrong, it’s an atom bomb to any self-worth that adolescents have mustered up to that point.

I can tell you, Mr. Kramer, that I was on a diet long before Maggie.  I was ten when I asked to join Weight Watchers.  Not only did I gain every pound I lost back plus some, but I also gained a whole new set of issues regarding my self-image.  You know what Weight Watchers taught me?  To look at myself in new ways to find flaws.  You know what it didn’t teach me?  How to enjoy food and live a happy life.  And the diets I put myself on for years after that initial attempt did nothing but the same thing.

But I guess you’re just one more cog in a wheel designed to make money off of stigma about fat people.  So in that case, I guess you succeeded.  I just pray your victims find acceptance with their bodies before its too late.

Sincerely,

A Very Concerned Fat Woman

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Now it’s your turn!  Get things off your chest.And you can check out other Open Letters Fridays here.  Particularly this week, I’d love to hear the letters you have for the celebs that have shaped your life.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Nora August 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Wow. That’s just… ridiculous (the book, that is).
Our world can be so messed up at times. It’s rather sad. =(

My letter for today:

Dear Future-Mother-in-law: I still don’t like you. Not one single bit. You’re making things worse instead of better. I can forgive, but I can’t forget. And you are making it really hard to forgive right now. So please, stop bugging me and Knight and give us some time.

Other than that hooray it’s Friday! :)

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kim August 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I don’t envy you in wedding planning with a pushy future MIL. Not one bit.

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whitkae August 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Wow, just wow. I cannot believe someone ever even thought that would be a good idea. Worse yet, that a publisher said ok, yeah we will go along with that. Freedom of speech, sure I believe in that, but I agree with you. So many girls are going to get the wrong idea :( Plus it is a man…. writing about a woman’s body – what the heck is he supposed to know about that!?

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kim August 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm

The publisher should be sued when little girls develop eating disorders from things like this. It’s seriously sickening. And you’re right, the fact that it’s a man writing about women’s bodies just ticks me off even more.

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Sara Grambusch August 19, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Ugh. I hope this book somehow gets pulled. So many people, including parents, just don’t understand that most kids grow OUT and then UP. Kids are growing. Growth is GOOD. Growth is HEALTH.

Thanks for the post.

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kim August 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I hope it gets pulled as well. Normally I’m all about controversial books sparking conversation, but when kids are involved then I draw the line. No conversation is worth even one child having body image issues.

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Frugal Vegan Mom August 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Oh wow, I’m shocked and saddened something like that could get published. I’m a first time mom to a 6 mo. old girl and also had food/body issues for a good portion of my teens & 20′s.

Unfortunately the kinds of messages in that book are everywhere….just writing this I feel hopeless, like no matter how well I raise my girl she could easily get caught up in all that image perfection crap.

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kim August 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Luckily she has a mom like you to help her step out of the binds that society tries to put her in…who recognizes this crap when she sees it. It is sad. The publisher is just as much to blame as the author on this one.

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magnolia August 20, 2011 at 12:39 am

i keep thinking that we’ve reached the ceiling, that nothing can possibly be any dumber, that we’ve hit the dumbness peak.

then i see things like that. good. LORD.

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kim August 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I feel the same way. I keep thinking that I’ll never be truly shocked again and then I am. And not in a good way.

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YogaforCynics August 20, 2011 at 3:51 am

Well, it looks like a perfect gift for parents who want to pass on their body image issues to their children…

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kim August 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

That’s the sad part. I’m sure there will be parents that do pass this on. A friend on FB made a good point that it’s going to sting even worse to the child when someone she knows and trusts gives this to her.

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Anna August 21, 2011 at 12:50 am

I can’t think of anything to say that isn’t R-Rated. X-Rated. About what I’d like to do to this guy (hint: involves a chainsaw)…

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kim August 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I’m not a violent person but I kind of agree. Frankly, his words are violence upon children.

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Elizabeth August 22, 2011 at 6:14 am

That’s appalling. It’s disheartening enough that kids already grow up hearing these messages without some jerk reinforcing it.

The thing is, it’s not even a problem that he wrote it. It’s a problem because there are people who will buy it. They are the problem.

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kim August 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Good point. The author and the publisher are definitely part of the problem, but you’re right: the people who buy this book for children are just another cog in the wheel. Just plain wrong.

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Ms TC August 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

UNBELIEVABLE. Not only does the author need to be smacked, but also the publisher, and whoever else was involved in getting this book to print.

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kim August 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I know–think of all the people who had to think this was a good idea to get it to this point. All of those people I’m holding personally liable.

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cari August 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm

The really scary thing is that even normal weight kids will feel fat when they read this book. I’m in the “normal weight” category (whatever that really means) and I have body image issues (as you already know). This is seriously sickening and I can’t even believe that he and his publishers think that this is a good idea. Perhaps if he was going to write a book about a fat kid, he could write one about how she loves herself anyway and has lots of friends and is happy on the soccer team just playing her part instead of becoming the soccer star.

There are SO many things about this book that are wrong, but I guess it’s just another symptom of our culture’s devastating sickness.

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kim August 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I mean, the fact that we keep equating fat with being “less than” is just killing me. This is especially true since all this research is coming out saying fat people can be just as healthy if not healthier than skinny people. It seems like every time we take one step forward we take ten back.

And you’re right. There are so many bad messages in this book.

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Delila August 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

Yeah I agree, he could have made it where she has friends, and plays soccer, but decided that she wanted to eat healthier and be more athletic and gets support from her friends for her decision or something. This guy is a pseudo writer.

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Delila August 25, 2011 at 10:43 am

Isn’t it funny that a man is writing a book about an overweight child. I just saw his interview, and he is overweight himself. He is going to criticize others about weight and dieting, when he is a fat pig himself. This book is self-published through his own pseudo publishing company , and not released through a reputable publishing company. He should really look at himself, and check out his weight on the scale before writing a book about a poor misguided girl who just needed to be pointed in the right direction about healthy eating and exercise, but the book is all about losing weight in order to gain acceptance from peers. This guy is an idiot.

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