You'd Be So Pretty If...

How to teach your daughter to love her body—even when you don't love your own.

Must We Introduce 'Dieting' to Four-Year-Olds?

I'm tired of hearing that being less makes you more.

As an author myself, I know how tough choosing a title for a book can be. It's a crowded marketplace, with plenty of other books competing for readers' attention. You need something snappy that will draw readers in and let them know what the book is about. A book's title can also spark a little outrage, generating buzz for a book that might easily be overlooked.

Such is the case, I suspect, with the forthcoming children's book, Maggie Goes On a Diet, by Paul Kramer. Yes, you read that right: A children's book. The story line, which is aimed at readers ages 4 to 8, is described in an Amazon product review as a book about a young overweight teenage girl who goes on a diet and, by doing so, is "transformed" into a "normal sized girl." The product review also says: "Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image."

Talk about your mixed messages!

Fair warning: I have not read the book. It could be a wonderful and positive body acceptance message for young readers. But I find myself horrified at presenting young readers (mostly girls, I suspect) with the idea that an overweight teenage girl magically solves all her problems and becomes a popular athlete because she went on a "diet." Frankly, I cringe at the thought of even introducing the word "diet" -- as a verb -- to a four-year-old girl.

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Yet, I find myself cheering a little at the idea of "Maggie" developing confidence and a positive self-image through exercise (and, hopefully, healthy eating habits and an attitude of kindness toward herself - though the review doesn't spell that part out). It's all in the delivery, isn't it?

I'm tired of the message that being less makes you more -- and, on the flip side, that being more (in body size, that is) somehow makes you less. If I could wave a magic wand and spread one message to kids, it would be this: Treat your body well, take care of it and use nice words when you talk about yourself and other people.

Come to think of it, there are plenty of grown-ups that I'd want to tell, too. But that's not exactly going to spark much outrage, is it?

Dara Chadwick is the author of You'd Be So Pretty If… :Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies—Even When We Don't Love Our Own.


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