Heavy Reading

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.

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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.