Heavy Reading This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

July 29, 2010
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I go to a Catholic school that has The Satanic Verses in the library. This makes my heart dance with the Satanic daffodils. We even get M2, a magazine “for the New Zealand man,” at my all-girls school. This is also pretty awesome. The lack of censorship is something I cherish. It is a privilege not everyone in the world shares. However, I know someone with an eating disorder, so when I saw Beat Cravings, Lose Weight by Christine Sutherland in the school library, it left a bad taste in my mouth. It made me wonder, what in the name of Satan are diet books doing in a high school library?

I feel uncomfortable supporting censorship in any form. However, plenty of things are censored in school – for example, websites. You can't get onto Facebook from our school computers, nor can you access porn. I can't say I have strong objections there. Schools decide what material they want students viewing by eliminating undesirable ones. By blocking porn and social networking sites, a school exerts a level of control over students' use of the Internet. Interestingly, the selection of books in the library seems to have a much more “anything goes” policy.

However, I doubt anyone with firsthand experience of an eating disorder would want books with “Lose Weight” in the title to be offered to teenage girls, who are the most at-risk group for developing eating disorders. You might wonder if anyone would actually put themselves through the humiliation of borrowing a book with “Lose Weight!” on the cover. But those with eating disorders have an uncanny way of sniffing out all the weight-loss pamphlets, magazines, and books within a 100-foot radius.

It's true that no one is being forced to read these diet books. But students with eating disorders are always looking for methods and motivation to lose weight. Those with a burgeoning eating disorder may spiral further into diet obsession after reading books about dieting. There is no denying that weight-loss resources are used by anorexics to feed their obsession with fat and calories.

Mind you, I don't want diet books banned in high school libraries, if only because it can lead to a slippery slope. I cannot claim to be against censorship and simultaneously advocate the banning of diet books – that would be having my low-fat cake and eating it too. I just feel these books are going to do more harm than good. If school libraries offer books about dieting, then I hope they are at least aware of the implications and consequences.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Jaggerswagger said...
Mar. 31, 2013 at 3:49 pm
Satanic daffodils?
SpringRayyn said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 12:10 am
I find it ironic that schools try and teach you not to have eating disorders and then put losing weight books in the library. I wonder if the school system noticed this, or if they didn't, or if they just don't care as much as they would like to pretend. Good article, and I like how you state your opinion but don't press it on people (even though I strongly agree).
Christine_Sutherland said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Very thoughtful article by Jayran and I couldn't agree more with the sentiments.

It's not only diet messages that create eating disorders, but health programs which put pressure on children and teenagers to eat more healthily and exercise more.

There is a very strong correlation between those types of programs, and eating disorders.

My book is completely anti-diet and I wrote it to attract people who are weight focussed to firstly show that they will at least stop... (more »)

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