Here's what I just sent to P&G (with a little language taken from one of Kate Harding's very helpful commenters):
I was recently alerted to a troubling article on the beinggirl.com website (http://beinggirl.com/en_US/articledetail.jsp?ContentId=ART61). In this article, the author gives "tips" to young girls about how to avoid becoming obese. I am appalled by the tips in the article and see them as nothing more than a recipe for an eating disorder and other disordered behaviors amongst your audience. I wanted to bring this article and its inherent issues to your attention so you can address it immediately.
While encouraging people to examine the issues affecting their food choices is admirable, it must be noted that the site’s demographic consists of young, impressionable girls who are not emotionally or psychologically prepared to handle such problems without guidance. The site suggests professional help only as an afterthought, and nowhere does it encourage girls to talk to a parent or trusted adult.
Moreover, the tips encourage girls to criticize their growing and changing bodies, to ignore the perfectly natural signals their bodies give them regarding hunger, and to basically regard food and eating as bad.
Here is one “tip” from the article:
1. 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. The craving may pass, you might get distracted, you might become wise enough in that half hour to find a more life affirming way of getting rid of that creepy stress.
The girls who this site targets are still growing. Ignoring their bodies’ needs could lead to malnutrition, health problems, and possibly an eating disorder. Playing such mind games can go too far for a girl who is insecure about her body and her weight: Well, I waited a half hour, so I can wait an hour. Then 2 hours. Then half a day. And so on.
With the proliferation of websites that glamorize anorexia and bulimia, I would hope that you would use your opportunity to reach out to young girls with better ideals in mind. Instead of jumping on the 9/11 bandwagon and using scare tactics to tell girls that the only reason they want to eat is because of stress, I think this entire article should be removed from your website and replaced by articles teaching girls about how their bodies change as they grow up, and telling them real facts about nutrition and exercise with a focus on a healthy lifestyle, not on losing weight.
If you took a few minutes to read the comments to this article, you would see how it simply perpetuates the negative messages young girls receive every day about how they are not skinny enough or pretty enough. I realize that Proctor & Gamble cannot change every girl’s negative self-perception, and you should not be responsible for that, but you are responsible for your articles that perpetuate the type of negative thinking about food and eating that leads directly to eating disorders.
I hope you will seriously consider the potential ramifications such an article poses for your young demographic and that Tampax and beinggirl.com will remove this article and exercise caution and oversight in the future to see that these kinds of harmful messages are not published on your site.
Kellyim, Esq(Oh yeah, I love throwing in the lawyer thing. Hee.)
I forgot to say something about how I bet there's no comparable article directed at the boys, so feel free to copy my letter and add that in.