Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

thin does not equal happy

We live in a diet-obsessed world, where if you mention you are on a diet, you are likely to be met with “good for you!” comments.  Not comments that express concern about your overall health and happiness, neither of which tend to last very long with obsessive dieting.

And now we have a new kids book, Maggie Goes On A Diet.  Unfortunately, it is not a spoof  or a joke, but an actual children’s title.  There are already a plethora of books out there about children and weightloss (a disturbing number of them include the word “fat” in the title), and a couple books about eating healthy for “weight management.”  But now we have reduced the obsession with size to a 4 to 8-year-old’s reading level and logic.

In the book, Maggie loses weight.  And then she is popular, athletic, and happy.  The cover shows her looking in a mirror, holding a dress half the size of her own body, and seeing a reflection of a happy, thin girl.

The basic problem is thin does not equal happy.  The media would like us to believe otherwise, but we just need to look at the number of hospital units for eating disorders to see that this equation is false. And on a purely personal note, the happiest–and healthiest–people I know are not what our media would term “thin.”

And somehow I can’t picture a happy “maggie” if she’s on a diet.  The people I know who are on diets tend to be the unhappy people in my life.  Children are generally happy when they’re allowed to be children, and they need proper nutrition in order to be happy children.  Their bodies physically can’t sustain the emotion of happiness when on a diet and when living a lifestyle obsessed with a superficial goal.

Yes.  We currently have a problem in the United States.  While there are still children starving and living in poverty, there are an increasing number of children whose weights are pre-diabetic and put them at a greater risk for heart problems. However, there is a difference between eating overall healthy meals and getting adequate physical activity–as well as looking at genetic risk factors–and dieting.

Children also have different rates of growth and development.  Their metabolism changes frequently as they grow.  They go through growth spurts.  Some people gain weight before they gain inches.  But this book encourages children and adults to believe there is one acceptable way to mature, and that way is by being thin.

Perhaps we need books where children of various body types are shown to be happy, with these same children pursuing activities that increase self-esteem and confidence.  Perhaps we need to stop the equation of “thin equals happy” rather than encouraging it.  Perhaps children need to learn self-acceptance and self-love rather than learning about self-denial and dangerous lifestyles that pose more health problems than not fitting into a tiny pink dress.  Maybe it’s time to throw that little pink dress in the trash and tell Maggie she’s smart and talented instead.



August 18, 2011 - Posted by | Eating Disorders | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. well put. breaks my heart when ideals such as these are pushed on to children. =(

    Comment by lindsey | August 18, 2011 | Reply

  2. I have a very good friend who has an 11 year old daughter who is significantly overweight. The daughter is mostly a happy young girl, but she is not happy with how she looks. He mother started a life style change a little over a year ago and the whole family now eats healthy and gets regular exercise. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know if someone told me at 11 or 12 years old that I should love my body regardless of being 40 lbs above a healthy weight range, I wouldn’t have listened.
    It’s easy for me to think being overweight is better than suffering from anorexia, but I think I’m being naive.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 18, 2011 | Reply

  3. Anonymous states that they think it would be easier to be overweight than to be annorexic and, no offense to Anonymous, but having been the overweight kid I can say that that is not likely the case. At least for me it wasn’t. It didn’tatter what my parents or I tried to do to help me Lise the weight but it was never enough. There were doctors, diets of every kind, weight loss camp, more doctors, pills….so many different things and nothing helped. I was horribly picked on all through school from a young age to graduation. I became suicidal in high school. Again in college. I was called names. I was beat up. I had Lysol sprayed at me while walking down the hall in high school because the logic of the other kids said I was overweight. Because I was overweight I was a PIG. Pigs smelled. Lysol was sprayed to get the stench that was me to disappear. Food was thrown at me. People oinked and moo’ed at me as I walked down the hall. Teachers did nothing. They didn’t help me. I often cried as I walked down the hall. I was alone. I had no friends and very, very few ppl stuck up for me. My parents went to the school board bit didn’t help. I was miserable. My family was miserable. Nobody knew the cause of my weight was because of a bona fide medical condition. Nobody cared to ask. It was easier to just make fun of me.
    My 20 yr class reunion is coming up. I’m now at a more healthy weight thanks to a different form of medical intervention. Do I want to go to my reunion and will I go? NO. I have no desire to relive the worst years of my life.
    After I lost weight I developed an eating disorder. I was desperate not to regain the weight. While both sides of the continuum are hell if I had to pick I would not puck being overweight. I hate to say that but I would not. I’ve experienced both sides of the spectrum and I will do anything in my power to avoid becoming overweight.

    Comment by The Overwiwght Kid | August 18, 2011 | Reply

  4. I honestly dont see the big deal about the book. When i have children i do not want them thinking being overweight/obese is okay… its not healthy, theres health problems that go along with that just like there is with being too underweight. i eat healthy, i workout everyday, i keep a good shape & my kids will also. im not going to “promote” eating disorders, i went through that & know what thats like, but im not gonna be like “yeah be happy with your body even though youre overweight”… that sounds harsh, but its the truth. its part of life, people are always talking about their weight & everyone worrys & i was overwight before the anorexia took over & it sucked, it was unhealthy and i was teased and life was horrible. people who say weight dosent matter to be happy are lying, it plays a role. when youre a healthy weight & eating healthy you feel better about yourself & then start feeling better about life in general, atleast thats how it is for me. yes, love & accept yourself but care about your health also.i get that kids should be kids and not obsess over dieting, but parents should be parents and not let the children become overweight… then diets wouldnt be necessary. kids hear this talk all over the place, thinking a kid is never gonna hear of diets or just cuz they avoid a certain book theyre gonna feel better about themself and not have any bad thoughts is not reality. they cant be sheltered from these things. im just saying you cant promote things either way, dont promote starvation and shit like that, but dont promote accepting obesity.. if youre unhappy with your body & are really overweight, then fix it. im probably gonna get shit for this comment, but its just my honest opinon about this whole thing.

    Comment by Honestly | August 18, 2011 | Reply

    • Honestly, You won’t get “shit” for this comment but you need to realize that there are a lot more factors that may need to be accounted for a child being overweight. It’s not always fixable by eating healthy and exercising. I did those things. My meals were planned by a dietitian and I had a personal trainer all through high school. Obesity is not always so black and white. My parents spent thousands and thousands of dollars trying to help me w the weight loss. My family ate healthy as a whole and exercised together. It’s not always so easy to “do something about it” as you suggest.

      Comment by The Overwiwght Kid | August 18, 2011 | Reply

  5. Не е добре, трябва воля

    Comment by zaw12929 | August 18, 2011 | Reply

  6. @overweightkid~ I didn’t say it was easier to be overweight than anorexic. What I said was that it’s easy for me to think it is because of my own history. I’ve never been overweight so the way I look at things is a bit skewed. I had anorexia for more than 20 years and was one of those revolving-door patients. It was hell-I hated myself and was suicidal for much of that time. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But as bad as it was, I think being overweight is just as bad. Sorry for not making myself very clear.
    As I said, I don’t know what the answer is. But I think it’s a step in the right direction when there’s an open dialogue.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 18, 2011 | Reply

    • No worries….. I was saying the same thing but from the opposite point of view.
      Appoligies if I wasn’t clear or misunderstood. 🙂

      Comment by The Overwiwght Kid | August 19, 2011 | Reply

      • 🙂

        Comment by Anonymous | August 21, 2011

  7. It’s so hard to figure out the appropriate balance here. Having had anorexia and bulimia for almost 11 years, my knee-jerk reaction is to burn all the books that push diets and “thin is happy!” at children, but if I take a step back, I recognize that obesity is a MUCH more prevalent problem than eating disorders, and always will be (as I believe EDs are psychologically predisposed, rather than “caused” by the media or diet culture). Still, there needs to be a more tactful, sensitive way to combat the obesity epidemic WITHOUT tying in the thin ideal or the inaccurate idea that thin=happy. The focus should be on enjoying exercise and involving kids in preparing healthy meals, NOT on the superficial loss of weight.

    Comment by Scarlett | August 19, 2011 | Reply

  8. Nice Post dude 😀
    Idiots Tube

    Comment by Syed Qarib | August 26, 2011 | Reply

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