Friday Food For Thought: How Early Are Body Image Issues Starting?
This morning, as I was clicking around on Glamour‘s website, I came across something that made my jaw drop. Apparently, author Paul Kramer is publishing a diet book aimed at six to twelve-year-old girls, entitled Maggie Goes On a Diet. Ummm… what?
As if young girls weren’t already subjected to enough in the media telling them how to look and act, along comes a book written by a male author, telling them they need to slim down. If they didn’t already have body image issues, they might now.
First of all, I kind of wish we would just let kids be kids anymore. Give them halfway decent food and let them pick an activity they like, and their weight will probably land where it’s supposed to. And I know there’s a huge problem with childhood obesity in this country, but I don’t think we need to put kids on diets. If a child has more than just a little belly, then fine, start making little tweaks in what they’re being fed and limit time in front of the TV, but don’t make them so aware of the fact that they need to lose weight. This is only going to result in preoccupation with looks and fixation on food as the kids grow up.
Second of all, as Sarah Jio also points out, the fact that the book is written by a man kind of angers me. I’m not saying that men will never understand body image issues, but the incidence of EDs and body image issues in men is a lot lower based on the fact that men are judged more often on merit than looks. It reminds me of when my guys friends rip into other girls’ appearances and expect me to think they think I’m great just the way I am or the time my college boyfriend said he didn’t understand eating disorders because if everyone just ‘ate normally’ we would all be fine (as I sat in my size 2s thinking I could stand to lose a few more). Based on my experiences, guy just don’t really ‘get it’ when it comes to body image issues. So unless Mr. Kramer had some horrific childhood experience that resulted in lifelong self esteem issues, I don’t think it’s fair for him to tell the world’s little girls that they should be saying no to dessert and counting calories. As if lingerie for tots and thongs for 10-year-olds weren’t bad enough. What’s next, Spanx and low-cal Gerber for babies?
I’m just glad this was self-published and that no editor thought this one would be a good idea to support. Ugh.
What do you think? Is the media contributing to body image issues starting earlier and earlier in kids? Should we be putting kids on diets? Does this new book piss you off more than just a little? Tell me what you think! Spill!