How Diet Culture Comments Hurt Girl Scouts Selling Cookies

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I am currently on the hunt for Samoa cookies sold by the Girl Scouts. I am stuck at home due to ankle surgery and cannot drive. I gave my friends my list of cookies and how many boxes to buy. Last year I missed out, so this year I am covering all my bases.

I was a Brownie in elementary school, but my mom had a disagreement with the leader and that was the end of my stint as a Brownie. So, I never moved up the ranks to become a Girl Scout. I feel I missed out on learning to build relationships, acquire leadership skills, and of course, the skill of selling cookies.

Alisa wearing her Brownie uniform as a child.

At the last church I attended, the Girl Scouts would make the rounds in the fellowship hall asking all of us to invest in their future and buy some cookies. Unfortunately, I was always dieting and would say so. I'd usually follow that up with some comment on how awful my body is and how I want to look better. The Girl Scout would go on to tell me that I could buy a box and donate it. So, I would. Clearly, enough of us talked about dieting to the Girl Scouts that they made a way for us to still purchase. What a shame.

I never thought of how damaging my comments were to a developing girl until I saw a meme online about not putting your hatred of your body and your allegiance to diet culture on the innocent Girl Scout who just wants to sell you some cookies. I had to pause and think about all the times I had done this and how harmful it must have been. If I communicate that I hate my body, what are the girls thinking about their bodies? They hear comments like, “I am going to have to hide these cookies from myself or I will eat them all in one sitting.” “I cannot buy cookies, I need to fit into my bathing suit this summer.” “One minute on the lips is forever on the hips.”

Girl Scout Cookies viral meme

I now know how damaging it was for me to hear women around me speaking negatively about their bodies. Imagine yourself or your daughter hearing these kinds of messages every day for two months. That level of exposure to self-loathing can lead to eating disorders in girls. It did in me.

Girl Scouts have the innocent task of selling cookies every year and are inundated with messages of diet culture from their customers. How does this impact their ability to love their bodies? How often do diet culture messages lead to disordered eating and self-loathing? We must do more to protect girls from diet culture, and it starts with how we talk about and view ourselves.

The next time you are approached by a Girl Scout and don't want to buy cookies, a polite “no thank you” will suffice.

I am Black, lesbian, disabled, mentally ill, fat, a birth mom, mom and grandmom (grand ma Coco to be exact) and Funny. I am a woman who is constantly fighting for my and your liberation.

I have a history of working for those living at the margins mostly in activist and nonprofit spaces. I currently work in the mental health field serving those who have been convicted of felonies and are in mental heath court. I am also a writer. I write about disabilities, chronic illness, mental health, racial trauma, sexual violence and disordered eating. I am also a public community speaker on the same topics. Hit me up if you need my writing or speaking skills.

Please use she or her pronouns when referring to or about me.

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