A reader alerted Kate Harding to this disturbing article on the www.beinggirl.com website, sponsored by Tampax and parent company Procter & Gamble.
It appears that the American president and his grand old party aren’t the only ones catastrophizing and capitalizing on fears of terrorism. Titled “What Does the War Have to Do With Your Weight?,” the article “reassures” young girls that they aren’t alone in their emotional overeating. Unsubstantiated statistics claim one in ten Americans gained weight within two months of 9/11, and that after the attacks, 15 percent of Americans admitted turning to “comfort foods.”
If a girl didn’t think she had a problem before reading this article, she might be convinced she has one after reading it.
The article goes on to provide 9 “tips” (in bold, my comments follow) for young, impressionable girls on how to curb their emotional eating, such as:
At the moment you grab for something to eat, tell yourself you can have it if you still want it but you have to wait 30 minutes. We wouldn’t want to encourage intuitive eating now, would we? Hey, if you last 30 minutes, you can probably last an hour, maybe even several hours. And if you’re really good, you can make that whole carton of yogurt last the entire day.
Write down everything you eat. Icky, we know, but we also know there’s no better substitute (except looking at yourself in the mirror naked), that’s better than tracking what goes into your mouth to get you into the habit of thinking before you eat. This is the particularly heinous “tip” for me. Food journaling is one thing; the encouragement of self-loathing is quite another. Mental health isn’t promoted here as the goal, but rather the perpetuation of a cultural aesthetic.
Post-It notes are great for reminding you of the right thing to do. Stick them on the bathroom mirror, on the inside of your locker, on your computer. Be creative with your reminder. “How hungry are your really?” “Exactly why are you eating that now?” “What will the scale say tomorrow morning?” Another really heinous and destructive “tip.” While they’re at it, perhaps girls should post some thinspiration photos, too, to remind them not to eat, ever.
If you know where your most challenging places are, stay away. If you’re aware of the time of day you’re weakest, prepare for it ahead. Never shop for groceries when you’re hungry. A previous tip also encourages girls to “plan ahead” to keep themselves occupied during normal snack hours. Both of these are so eerily reminiscent of the excuses I learned to make in order to avoid eating with friends and family. And how many 10 and 11-year-olds do you know grocery shops? Or need tampons, for that matter?
Look, it’s one thing to encourage people to examine the issues affecting their food choices, but these are young, impressionable girls who are at the ripe age when most eating disorders develop. If a girl truly has a problem with emotional eating, chances are, she isn’t emotionally prepared to handle it herself. The site suggests professional help only as an afterthought, and nowhere does it encourage girls to talk to their parents or a trusted adult. Their advice is the equivalent of instructing a 10-year-old to perform surgery on herself without any medical knowledge or training.
What’s even more sad is that P&G has partnered with Hearst Magazines, so that the site and potentially harmful messages like this are prominently featured on Seventeen.com, CosmoGIRL.com and Teenmag.com, which collectively reach 1.5 million unique users per month. Apparently making girls feel bad about themselves and their bodies is mutually beneficial for these two companies.
Contact information to voice complaints is available after the jump.
P&G is headquartered in my hometown of Cincinnati, and I’m working on getting more detailed contact informtion. Here’s what I’ve compiled so far:
The beinggirl site has a generic Contact Us form you can start with. P&G’s corporate website has a similar Contact Us form. P&G has an 800 number staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Monday through Friday at 1-800-523-0014.
Here are the so-called “experts” behind the site. According to one profile, they’re also headquartered in Cincinnati. Address snail mail letters any or each of the following:
- Dr. Iris Prager, beinggirl Content Manager
- Tina So, beinggirl Interactive Marketing Manager
- Jamie Kissell, US beinggirl Interactive Marketing Manager
- Janis Carter, beinggirl Interactive Production Manager
- Sonya Kirkpatrick, beinggirl Marketing Specialist
And also, Melanie Healey, Group President, Global Feminine and Health Care
One Procter & Gamble Plaza
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Suggestions on how to phrase letters of complaint can be found here. Remember: it’s important to express and articulate your concerns and outrage, but ranting vitriolic letters are often highly ineffective.
More contact information as I get it.