Women of a Certain Age

WOMAN OF A CERTAIN AGE MAGGIE GOES ON A DIET

By Marcia Barhydt   

Once more, I’m seeing an example of the obsession we have over the shape and size of our bodies. I’m thankful that as a woman of a certain age, I’m no longer quite as obsessed as I once was; I’m more accepting of my body and its efforts to thwart my attempts at skinniness.

For all of us who grew up in the ’50s, ’60s and beyond, being preoccupied with our shape continues to follow us doggedly. I’ve just read an article about the latest and probably greatest offence…a book called “Maggie Goes on a Diet”. The book targets young teenagers and tweens. I barely know where to begin with how offensive this concept is on so many levels.

Look at the cover of the book here and you’ll see that Maggie, dressed to hide in jeans and a sweatshirt, is pinning all of her dreams (the frilly, semi-sexy pink dress) on having a thinner body just like she imagines in her mirror.

Could we send any worse message to a young teenager than this? I doubt it. We’re telling Maggie that if she doesn’t lose weight and lose it before that big prom, she’s gonna face a life of not being pretty, not being slim, not being everything she thinks she needs to be from the messages she’s received all of her short life. Every time our daughters turn around, they’re bombarded with unattainable images, splashed all over them like a bad game of paintball.

I’ve mentioned this before in other articles, but please take the time right now to watch a short video on YouTube called Onslaught: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bseHFrdTm8k&feature=related to see the ads our daughters are exposed to that give them an instant sense of inadequacy and then watch what happens both before and after a fashion model is readied for print advertising http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbb8D-u8ues.

And now some person has seen fit to write a book for pre-teens and teens about all of this just in case our daughters don’t have enough beauty-perfect propaganda thrown at them? Come on Paul Kramer, what were you thinking?

Apparently, Mr. Kramer was thinking his book is a good impetus to help our kids eat properly. In a report from CTV’s medical specialist Avis Favaro, Kramer defended his controversial children’s book “Maggie Goes on a Diet” under the ruse of saying it’s a book about a dieting teenage girl and it helps kids make healthy choices. “My intentions were just to write a story to entice and to have children feel better about themselves, discover a new way of eating, learn to do exercise, try to emulate Maggie and learn from Maggie’s experience,” Kramer told “Good Morning America” today. “Children are pretty smart … and they will make a good choice if you give them that opportunity.”

Riiiiiight!! Kramer, remember that the road to hell is paved with…well, you know.

From the Amazon website comes this description: Maggie “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.”

Again, riiiiiight!! Even the mighty Amazon drew unprecedented roars from the blogging community – thank goodness.

Eating disorders are rampant in our country and abroad. Eating disorders can and do kill our daughters. At the very least they can permanently scar a young girl’s self-image at an age when she’s under unprecedented pressure to be hot, sexy, skinny, zit-free, flawless. And this at a time in her life when she begins trying on persona to help her choose who she’ll be as she grows up.

Most of us, I believe, do our very best not to raise our daughters with those messages. I think I raised my daughters to value deeper things than surface looks or body perfection and I know my daughters, now both in their 30’s, are gorgeous and savvy about putting more meaning to their lives than appearances.

Every time we turn around in our lives, there seems to be some new addition to an issue we thought we’d already dealt with. Sigh. We need always to be on guard about faulty perceptions and never more so than for our daughters and granddaughters. We need to make peace with our own bodies.

I’m a woman of a certain age and I’m certain that we need to really care about teaching our daughters poor priorities.

©Marcia Barhydt, 2012

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