BeingGirl: For girls, by liars

This morning, Harriet Brown had a wonderful post to which I felt compelled to respond upon a bit more digging.

“BeingGirl: For girls, by girls,” a site hosted by Proctor & Gamble, is one of those places that draws in teenage girls with cutesy graphics and shitty writing (by the staff), and better writing which populates the rest of the site (posts by the girls themselves). Some of the posts are heartbreaking, and the articles themselves (esp. the ones concerning weight) are filled with virulent lies, and ‘methods’ of weight-reduction which read like a pro-ana site.

What dangerous nonsense…I hope my teenage, computer-literate, soon-to-be step-daughters haven’t ever stumbled into that den of lies.

Here’s a quote from the “Express Yourself — Creative Expressions” part of the site:

All that I can think about are the calories in that food

All that I can think about are the calories in that food Constantly counting and adding to make sure I don’t eat too much I know that it is bad to diet, but being thin makes me feel good That feeling of the fat on my stomach is annoying to touch So 900 calories a day is all that I can allow People tell me how much weight I’ve lost, but I just don’t see it I’m scared to eat more than that I don’t want the weight, not now People saying “Eat more, eat more” makes me just stare at it and sit Yes, food, food, everywhere, but I’m scared to eat it up You want to help me Well, I’m way beyond help I’m lost…

It was given 1046 positive “votes,” which means that resonates with at least that many girls on the site (the ones that bother to vote, anyway). It looks like the average number of positive votes is about 1000, from what I can see.This one, lower on the list, makes me feel very good, however:

Being Me

I have always struggled with weight issues and until recently I have
never really accepted myself. I always had self esteem issues and
would hide behind a facade of friendly compliments to other people and
big clothes. I figured out that I really needed to accept myself, so I
really stepped back and looked at my choices. Not just my eating and
exercising habits, but also my dressing and grooming habits. Going out
and buying that dress that I have always wanted but never felt I could
pull off.

I found that by stepping outside my safety zone I found more
confidence in myself and began to accept me for who and what I am.
I have found myself actually pursuing romantic endeavors I had never even dreamed of before.

I just wanted to let anyone who is having self esteem issues know that if you can step outside of your safety zone, as hard as it can be, you can
truly make a difference in your life. It has in mine.

But this post only got 422 positive votes, compared to the negative body image’s post of 1024. :(

These article writers (not the open-forum posts by regular girls like the ones quoted above) seem like they’re ALL nasty liars. Here’s another quote, from “Teenage Girls Fear of Fatness”

You would think from the words Carrie uses…guilty, bad, cheating, hate…that she was talking about something more immoral or harmful than snacking on potato chips. You would think she was worried about the osteoporosis, anemia, obesity and cardiovascular disease that might be made worse by eating certain foods [emphasis mine]

Anemia? Christ, that’s a new one. Where the hell are they getting this garbage, anyway? Or is it just “known” that OMG FOOD!1! is a toxic substance that causes diseases, and we need to try so hard to find the ‘wisdom’ to abstain from it?

The rest of the article is filled with confused contradictions, at one moment claiming rightly that body image is horribly skewed in the teenage girl population, then wondering “what causes” this when their own site is replete with panic-mongering bullshit, ending with :

Learn to see yourself through your grandma’s eyes not that distorted mirror you rely on. There’s no need to eliminate any food you enjoy from your diet. Just learn to make trade offs and balance unhealthy foods with healthy ones. And keep on the move. The safest and most appropriate obesity prevention strategy is to get rid of those “automobile feet” and exercise.

And when they don’t “prevent obesity” that way (exercise has been shown to be a largely ineffective way to lose weight, though it’s very effective in increasing health), what then? How are they going to feel? Like they need to start ritualizing food, just like they thought? That they aren’t good enough, and the answer is just to exercise ‘more’?

I could go on and on with this site. Instead, I’m just going to end with a few gems that you can discuss (and, of course, feel free to go to the site as well):

The Runaway Eating Epidemic

A recent study by the National Longitudinal Study for Adolescent Health revealed that in the five years between 1996 and 2001, about two million teens joined the ranks of the clinically obese!

Uh, yes, revising standards downwards in order to label more people obese (in 1997 or 1998, I forget) is going to make the ‘ranks of the clinically obese’ go up (don’t you love how ‘clinically’ obese makes it sounds so uber-scary and real, even though it’s an arbitrary number based on the bullshit skewing and misemphasizing of the Nurse’s Study’s statistics?)

Dieting Myths

This article “debunks” dieting myths—and also let’s you know which ones are “true”! The poll questions are the standard stuff, but one of them asks:

To keep weight off, you should take off how much a week?
1. at most 5 pounds
2. at most 2 pounds
3. at most 6 pounds
4. at most 4 pounds

The real answer, of course, is “at most 0 pounds.” “Taking off” weight doesn’t work for the vast majority of dieters, and to expect that one can “take off” some magic perfect number a week and “keep” it off is dangerously fallacious. To suggest to teenage girls that permanent weight loss is achievable in any fashion as long as they do it the ‘right way’ is abominable, and goes against the preponderance of evidence.

Fitness and Diet

This one is confusing, filled with dangerous contradictions:

When Should You Diet?

Unfortunately, women today are often pressured to measure up to a certain body type so they “diet’ to achieve that goal. But there are many body types and some people might have bigger shapes just because they’re built that way.

Just think of it in nature. Some cats are naturally skinny, some are husky, and some are heavier. Different builds and body types in animal are natural. And it’s the same with people. Each person has an ideal, individual weight range where they are still healthy. That range could be higher or lower, depending on the person. So just because you don’t look like the skinny actress on the cover of an entertainment magazine, don’t worry. And don’t go crazy dieting.

Sometimes going on a diet can really help you — if you’re overweight and need to lose pounds, for example. More than 1 of every 3 American adults is considered to have an unhealthy weight. Because of these excess pounds, they are more susceptible to disease. So being very overweight can be unhealthy, and is a good reason to “diet.” [emphases mine]

Huh?? One moment we’re all “different,” the next minute overweight is unhealthy and should be dieted off??? I don’t have the energy for this last one. Please tear into it for me.

My to-be stepdaughters shall be warned away from this site.

Edited to correct typos and provide emphases.

11 comments on “BeingGirl: For girls, by liars

  1. […] bloggers have also commented on this story- see Feed Me!, Big Liberty, and Fat Lot of Good for their […]

  2. […] bloggers have also commented on this story- see Feed Me!, Big Liberty, and Fat Lot of Good for their […]

  3. meowser says:

    I don’t want to “tear into it.” I want to find a hacker who can WIPE IT OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH. What food “causes” anemia? It’s a lack of certain foods, if anything, that can foster it. And if I’ve heard of anything causing osteoporosis, it’s DIETING (although too much protein has also been implicated by certain researchers).

    How can people live with themselves doing this shit? Lying to adults is one thing — nasty, yes, but adults have more truth-finding tools at their disposal. Lying to impressionable young girls? DIAF, you money-grubbing sociopaths.

    And I’m NEVER buying a Tampax or any other P&G product again, and I will tell them so.

  4. anniemcphee says:

    Oh. my. God. This is madness. Thanks for commenting on it (ergh – I haven’t finished reading it yet but I read about it at the F-Word and I’m already suitably horrified.

    “osteoporosis, anemia, obesity and cardiovascular disease that might be made worse by eating certain foods”

    The first time I read this sentence, I skipped over the word obesity for some reason and was SURE she was talking about anorexia! Because…um…food causing anemia and osteoporosis? Wtf? Starving does that, and causes heart attacks. 19 year old girls seldom drop dead of heart attacks…unless they’re anorexic. Well I’m going to read more but on a “as-can-handle” basis because this one is making me really mad.

  5. emmysr18 says:

    my comment is as posted on my blog: http://www.frozenoranges.com

  6. anniemcphee says:

    BL, I don’t know how else to get in touch with you, but we really DO need a feed for libertarian fatties – I see that Junkfoodscience’s Sandy takes some heat for her stance on “universal healthcare” and “global warming” (Jesus how short people’s memories are – when I was a kid they were constantly warning us of the coming f***ing ICE AGE and being buried in garbage…now it’s global warming – and “free universal healthcare” – Uh, hasn’t anyone got the hint that the government is the LEAST responsible or capable to handle ANYTHING much less our personal health? ARGH!

    If you have any ideas on getting a feed going, let me know because I have NO idea how that works or what it really means, but I know it’s a lacking spot and I have heard now that there are more than just a few interested parties. Or hell, maybe there are only a few, but they need it as much as anyone else.

    If we could keep linking to one another, it could be a great help to the non-leftist (and to a lesser degree non-rightist) crowds out there. I KNOW they exist and I know they can be won over where they don’t exist now. We need it.

    Lemme know what you find out. Thanks.

  7. […] Big Liberty takes a closer look at other sections of Beinggirl.com and finds even more! misinformation to confuse young girls on health and diet. […]

  8. beckduer says:

    BL and anniemcphee, I’m with you. I also remember the “coming ice age” warnings of my younger days. This is madness. My younger brother has been ranting about the “hole in the ozone layer” theories for years. (His take? It grows and shrinks. It’s a cycle. It’s supposed to be. Check the science/history research on it.)

    This P&G website made me physically ill when I read it. I also am going to stop using their products, as much I know how, and I’m going to let them know why. As soon as I find a phone # or e-mail address to send my concerns to, I’ll post it here, so if anyone else wants to “talk” to them, they may.

  9. BigLiberty says:

    For those who want to email me about a ‘fat libertarian’ feed, I just set up the account:

    big.liberty at gmail dot com.

    I think this is something we could get going. :)

  10. […] to everyone who blogged about this (especially Rachel, where I first read about it) and to those who took the time to write or to […]

  11. […] had been removed. Thanks to everyone who blogged about this (especially Rachel, where I first read about it) and to those who took the time to write or to call. I had received an email from Procter […]

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