Saturday, August 20, 2011

Paul M. Kramer's "Maggie Goes on a Diet"

Elections aside, this is a classic example of finger pointing: I was not surprised when author Paul M. Kramer's picture was displayed and it appeared as though he should go on the diet instead of Maggie. It would also be more age appropriate for him to diet than marketing the dieting industry to young girls.

On the book cover, I was disgusted by the image of what appeared as reverse anorexia: the cover shows Maggie as an overweight girl standing before a mirror with her skinny clothes placed in front of her body--what women usually do in the mirror of department stores to get an idea of how the clothing will look when worn-- and  the reflection (in the mirror) shows the slender version of Maggie. This goes without mentioning the uncanny resemblance of Maggie to Pipi Longstocking

The book is disturbing. If the author's weak argument is to target the obesity epidemic in America, include males too. It is the focus on the superficial exterior that is most bothersome. The visual message is that skinny is ideal, skinny is a goal and that skinny is healthy. What if Maggie fails at her goal, as so many on diets do? Weight loss has been described with metaphors such as "battle" and "struggle"; therefore, this is not what we need girls focusing on. Skinny is not always healthy. Those with eating disorders who appear at normal weights may be going to extremes to be skinny and ruining their health and some sacrifice their lives in the hopes of seeing what the reflection of Maggie in the mirror is seeing.

From what I have heard, after Maggie is skinny, she is the most popular girl and a star on the soccer team. That is even more disheartening because this is the mind set of too many starving artists in the entertainment and beauty industry. Jennifer Hudson's recent comment of being more proud of her weight loss than her Oscar demonstrates how difficult weight loss can be. Kramer's intentions may have been good but this controversy is valid and he should propose a better idea and cease from using an image that similar to Pipi Longstocking.    

You are a star as you are, Maggie, and the exterior may have changed but the interior is where the star quality is and will always remain. Now I sound like a true psycho speaking to a fictional character but I was a fat kid and I know from experience how superficial the world can be. As soon as I lost weight, people would compliment my looks and I was miserable. I lost weight due to very stressful circumstances and people constantly remarked how great I was looking. I went to talk to a shrink (psychologist) and even she didn't understand why I looked great to society but had such a terrible body image. That shows the power of advertising. Advertisers want society to believe that being skinny and attractive will grant you happiness and that is a lie. Hollywood train-wrecks are the best examples of that.

I had dieted since the age of 6. It was the stereotype of dance instructors and ballet teachers labeling kids as fat but I was a chubby kid, fat adolescent, and became an athletic adult. Even to this day, I would rather feel good than look good. We must focus less on looks because some people are willing to die to be skinny. 

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