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Maggie goes on a diet. But perhaps, in the sequel, she doesn’t?

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Would you like to help me with something publishing-related? I promise there is no heavy lifting or much effort at all involved, but you may be required to write an email or some tweets. Or, you know, maybe a book.

It’s not for me, it’s for a friend. That friend is…young girls. It relates to a not-yet-published-but-much-discussed book called, “Maggie Goes on a Diet”.

You may have read about “Maggie Goes on a Diet” already. It’s garnered lots of press coverage over the past week. But in case you haven’t, here’s a link to the book on Amazon:

The rogue-tagging gives a fairly accurate sample of many people’s immediate reaction to the idea behind the book. Google the book, and you’ll come up with a lot of articles – many of them rather cross, though generally less witty than the rogue tagging, I think.

So, that’s the book, and the reaction to it. Caveat: I don’t think anyone’s actually read it. But, you know what? Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. The cover sends a message that is just about the worst one you can give little girls about health and self-esteem: “Feel bad about yourself? Well, you should change your body. Your body is bad. If you go on a diet it will be good.”

Unless the contents are deeply subversive of the cover, in which case, Mr Kramer, I take it all back and applaud your post-modern unravelling of the diet industry (Big Diet perhaps we should call them?) and your feminist agenda. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what’s in this book, though.

This is a moment when body image has people’s attention, so, perhaps a moment when we can do something good?

Now, I think it’s right to be angry that our society has twisted the debate around food, weight and bodies to such an extent that anyone would even think of writing a book about this. But I don’t blame the guy who wrote it, really. He’s operating in a context where it’s not all that surprising that he did. Society is riddled with the nasty badness of shaming people about their bodies and offering them snake oil balmes to change those bodies.

But rather than just getting angry, or blaming Paul Kramer, I thought perhaps we could use the frenzied attention that his book has attracted for something positive. Are there any publishers/editors/writers/illustrators/parents/doctors/psychologists/women/men/humans out there who would consider getting in touch with Paul Kramer and helping him to put out a second book? One that doesn’t reinforce the existing useless harmful messages that are endemic these days, but instead, actually speaks to young girls in a way that doesn’t feature the diet-ad staple of a lady looking in a mirror and seeing her bright future…when she’s thin.

Kramer has  the spotlight for the wrong reasons. But he could use it to put out a book with a message that doesn’t encourage young girls to see their body as something that needs to be controlled? One that doesn’t tell young girls they need to look different, to fit into a particular dress (as per the cover)? Perhaps it could be a book about how playing sport gives you confidence, or about how to overcome bad feelings about your body? I’m not really qualified to offer a suggestion of what book he should write, but, there must be some way of approaching this whole minefield in a way that actually helps rather than harms?

So, will anyone help me? I’ve emailed Paul Kramer via his website suggesting he write a second book. Would you contact him too? And spread the word? In the meantime, I will be tweeting about it with the entirely made-up hashtag of #helpmaggie.

If you’d consider sending an email to Paul Kramer, offering to help advise him/edit him/generally put out a second, non-diet book on the body image/health/sport topic (assuming that he’s prepared to admit the first was a dud), you can contact him via his website, here:

I would love for something good to come out of something bad, rather than just a lot of cross people on the internet. Who’s with me? NB: if Mr Kramer won’t play ball, perhaps we could do the show right here and put out an answering book ourselves?




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