November 8, 2011

Maggie Goes on A Diet: A Children's Book About "Health"??

Has anyone heard about this book? I'm not surprised that Maggie Goes on A Diet, a new children's book by Paul Kramer, has sparked so much controversy.

Yet Kramer's lack of knowledge about the reasons for and root of this controversy demonstrates that our society also lacks knowledge about ideas that appear to be natural and normal. Think about it: who defines what and who is healthy? And, as Katie points out, who defines who is "popular" and successful? These things are socially and culturally constructed by the power-laden ideologies and discourses that are embedded in our culture and society.

This book concerns me not just because it may promote body image issues and eating disorders, but also because it reinforces social and cultural ideas that are accepted as natural and normal. Healthy does not equal skinny and popular. And successful does not equal popular and skinny. But why do these ideas exist? And, furthermore, why are they still accepted as "truths"?

 On another note, why is the focus of this book a girl, despite that it's written by a middle-aged man? I'll tell you why. Because girls are the ones that face the most amount of pressure to meet cultural ideals and norms. Girls are faced with a tremendous amount of pressure to "fit in", to be socially accepted, and to do this by being thin and "healthy".Yes, I know that men and boys are also met with these kinds of pressures, but they have an advantage--they are sexed as male in a world that values and hierarchicalizes men over women.

Although I feel sad for Paul Kramer who claims innocence, I also feel angry. He's still just another white guy who wants "his" women skinny.

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