Jenny Craig & Jackie O

28 Mar

The Alliance of Girls Schools recently invited the CEO of weight loss company Jenny Craig to speak to hundreds of teachers at their upcoming conference. Amy Smith plans to speak on women and leadership, not body image, however the invitation has caused outrage among some health professionals, who have organised an online petition with over a thousand signatures so far, claiming that by inviting Ms Smith the Alliance is endorsing unhealthy dieting practices.

I was initially confused, and thought Ms Smith was speaking to girls about Jenny Craig. Fair enough to question that I thought. But no, she’s speaking to teachers about women and leadership.

It seems to me that if health experts are enraged by Ms Smith speaking, they’re going to have to protest if any woman who has anything to do with the fashion industry, women’s magazines, the cosmetic industry, and cosmetic surgery, all of which promote an unhealthy obsession with physical appearance that ought not to be encouraged in girls, is invited to address any conference that has anything to do with people who are employed in girls’ education.  Otherwise they will appear inconsistent and lacking in credibility.

I’d engage anyone in a debate as to whether Jenny Craig or Cosmopolitan is more damaging to girls’ notions of how they should look. I’d also take on the magazines that contain pages of fashion and slimming advice, followed by an orgy of food porn, followed by scorn for celebrity cellulite and muffin tops. Mixed messages, anyone?

Body Matters eating disorder specialist Lydia Jane Turner says “…the idea of this person [Amy Smith] actually speaking about inequality of girls and the economic standing of women I find incredibly hypocritical.” Ms Turner justifies her feelings by pointing out that Jenny Craig has sponsored the Kyle Sandilands show, and that Vile Kyle has a history of “fat shaming.”

I may be on shaky ground here, as I recently called Clive Palmer a “fat shit” on Twitter. However, in my own defence, the mental image that term of abuse conjures for me is literal: a great big stinky brown log that won’t go down no matter how much you flush.

To me, there is something abhorrent in demanding that anyone not be allowed to speak. For example, I was highly offended when Tony Blair last visited this country, was fawned over by the media, and addressed university students in his usual messianic fashion, justifying his part in the invasion of Iraq because he felt it was “morally right.”  In my opinion, Blair is a war criminal and I don’t like the idea of a war criminal let loose to influence our young. However, petitioning to have him silenced is more offensive to me than allowing him to speak. As with Ms Smith, everyone knows where he’s coming from. Adults can make up their own minds about his message. Not everyone shares my perceptions of him, and why should I claim the right to impose my beliefs on others?

It isn’t Ms Smith’s stated intention to “fat shame” anyone. She’s a woman who’s done well in the business world, and she plans to talk about her experiences. Yes, she’s part of an industry that has a dark side. Is there any industry that doesn’t? And do we silence all representatives because of that? Cardinal George Pell had better give up public speaking for a start. There are few industries more dangerous to children than his has proved to be.


Speaking of Kyle Sandilands, this spray against his on-air partner Jackie O appeared on the mamamia website the other day. Jackie O apparently declined to describe herself as a feminist, incurring the wrath of Mia Freedman, who feels that we should all call ourselves feminists a) because we’ve benefited from the efforts of our predecessors, and b) because if we believe in equality we are feminists. This generous definition doesn’t take into account the furious public debates between feminists as to who is and is not deserving of the title, debates that caused confusion and resentment, and quite likely prompted more than one woman to vow she did not want the title anyway.

Prue Goward by publik15 via flickr

I first became aware of Jackie O when she was on the receiving end of a gratuitous attack by the NSW Minister for Middle Class Morality, Prue Goward. At the time I wrote this:

Prue Goward, recently appointed NSW Minister for Families, whatever that is, has taken a nasty swipe at radio personality Jackie O for the manner in which she fed her baby.

Apparently Jackie O gave the child a bottle while simultaneously walking across a pedestrian crossing, an action Goward likened to the famous Michael Jackson moment when he dangled his little son over a balcony in Germany and subsequently earned global contempt for his fathering skills.

Why this is a concern for the Minister for Families remains a mystery to me. An over-zealous commitment to her new portfolio? Is she going to focus on perceived child abuse by the rich and famous? If the mother had been a working class woman would Goward have even blinked?

I’m glad she wasn’t in the nursery when once, in a sleep deprived state similar to those experienced by former PM Kevin Rudd, I accidentally stuck my fingers in the wrong jar and pasted my baby boy’s bits with Vicks Vapour Rub instead of nappy rash cream.

Soon to become a dad himself for the first time, he looked at me speechless, and quite judgmentally, I thought, when I recently confessed this transgression. Too late I realised my mistake. Now I probably won’t be allowed anywhere near the new baby, but at least we know the Vicks didn’t do its daddy any damage.

My sympathies at the time were firmly with Jackie O. I’ve since had cause to reflect that her relationship with Kyle Sandilands does remind me of a variation of an abusive situation, in which Jackie plays the role of enabler.  In spite of this I’ve never quite lost my impression of her as vulnerable, so when I read the criticism of her not identifying as a feminist I wanted to protect her.

The inimitable Helen Razer has her say on the matter here.

Refusing to call yourself a feminist is a crime for which there is apparently no adequate punishment, and from which there is no possibility of redemption. You just have to do as you’re told and say you are, even if you don’t feel it’s really you. Here, as with the attempts to dictate whom the Alliance of Girls’ Schools may and may not invite to address them, we see further efforts by ideologues and morality police to control our public and private discourse, to the degree that we are told we should call ourselves something we do not feel we are.

Life seems increasingly to be a battle to preserve one’s own integrity against the onslaught of busybodies who’s own life purpose seems to be telling everybody else who we should be, what we should do, who we should listen to (invariably them) and what we can see. Personally, I’m over it. The only obligation anyone has is to be upfront about where they are coming from if they want to have a public voice. Silencing people is not on, and neither is telling women how to describe ourselves. Haven’t we got enough of that already from the patriarchy and the beauty industry, and the religious people and and and and……

81 Responses to “Jenny Craig & Jackie O”

  1. gerard oosterman March 28, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Girl’s colleges ?
    Next we will have Pymple’s Ladies College, gloved and all. Dear oh dear, coke machines at schools and hospitals, no wonder we have weight problems.
    I would not have anyone from a Commercial business having a free go at any school, let alone ‘girls schools’.
    Just have a look how Big Golden Arched M is worming themselves into Australian education, especially sport…
    Why not have experts in health do the job?
    As for Sandilands or Jackie O. If there were different priorities we would be asking ;who are they?


  2. samjandwich March 28, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    “Life seems increasingly to be a battle to preserve one’s own integrity against the onslaught of busybodies who’s own life purpose seems to be telling everybody else who we should be, what we should do, who we should listen to (invariably them) and what we can see.”

    This is true. I always feel it hasn’t been a successful day unless I’ve been honked at at least once by some road-enraged driver on my daily commute tthrough the mid-west of Sydney, I take it as a sign that I’ve successfully gotten through to someone that they can’t go about carry their sense of entitlement throughout their life with impunity.

    Now then, how do you think I could get the alliance of girls’ schools to invite *me* along to their conference? Sounds like fun 🙂


    • samjandwich March 28, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Grammar and punctuation, Sam Jandwich!


  3. DontSueMeMTR March 28, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    I know this only goes to a fraction of what your post was about but here goes:

    I personally despise the fashion industry — and by fashion industry, I mean anyone who makes a living by telling people to buy something if they want to be one of the cool kids.

    Having said that, I also tend to have a problem with those people who I see as getting carried away with the fight against body-shaming. Being overweight is not harmless. It’s like smoking. In fact, it carries many of the same risks. Now, I wouldn’t go out and try to shame a nicotine addict, but at the same time I wouldn’t go and tell kids that smoking is fine and natural and they should totally ignore anyone who tells them otherwise.

    Of course, being skinny is not an end to itself. So why does it seem like so much of the conversation is about fat vs thin? What about fit vs unfit, healthy vs unhealthy? Why do I hear so many people talk about losing weight so they can fit into size whatever clothing instead of being able to run up a flight of steps without getting puffed or having a heart attack at fifty? Am I the only one?


  4. samjandwich March 28, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Oh and, this could be a long-shot given the involvement of the daily telegraph, but I keep thinking I’d like to nominate Jennifer for the NSW Women of the Year award, for excellence in keeping the bastards on their toes and giving a voice to the sensible and well-balanced.

    But the nomination form asks for two referees. Gerard and Paul?


  5. Hypocritophobe March 28, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    I probably said enough on this yesterday, but the whole Jenny Craig thing has a familiar ring to it.
    I wonder if a polite phone call preceded the vicious, insulting petition now doing the rounds?
    I am yet to see why this attack was even ‘considered’ justified.
    It has parallels to the campaign against Brian McFadden.
    And it has a similar level of faux concern,limited facts and presumptuous innuendo.
    Jenny Craig is a successful business woman and powerful brand, running a legitimate business.It seems she is now being openly accused of contributing to the harm and potential harm of young girls.The accusers will need some very definitive data to back that up.Not a single word in the petition about the second biggest health issue in Australia-Obesity.Plenty of throw away stats on the other end of the spectrum.
    Craigs business has been ‘target labelled’ in the same vein as porn was, using the same tactics.
    The use of the phrase “Diet Industry”, (in the way it is used) is obviously meant to conjure up similar negative connotations, as using the term “Porn Industry” is meant to.

    Eventually these ‘small fish’ ( some might label them ‘Smear Industry’ -not me) women and girls gravy train-ers, will bite the wrong ankles.
    They seem to have a taste for blood.
    I wonder if they demanded a copy of the JC CEOs speech to ensure it ticked their boxes before going for the jugular?

    The other unresolved issue, in the Women Girls Advocacy area, yet to reach a just conclusion is the Bravehearts saga,as outlined last week on the Drum.
    {Bravehearts Inc. operates under an Article of Association, is operated by a Board of Management and is assisted by a professional Advisory Committee. We are registered under the Collections Act 1966; ABN and GST registered (41 496 913 890), are a registered Charity and are registered with the ATO as a DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient).

    ABN: 41496913890}
    The longer they (Bravehearts and Hetty Johnston) take to answer the extremely simple questions posed by a parent, (which the public is also fully entitled to know) which they willingly thrust into a legal, public-arena maelstrom,the more damaged they will become.It’s not a good look.And at a time of QLD changing governments and public service staff slashing, let’s hope that all the ‘t’s’ are crossed and ‘i’s’ are dotted.
    I doubt very much whether Campbell Newman wants a controversy during the Honeymoon period.
    On that level because this fiasco has drawn a level of scrutiny to Bravehearts (which is a very good thing) AND subsequently the child care/welfare advocacy arena. The NLPs relevant Minister who is eventually appointed needs to be qualified,open and independent,not just popular with the industry or heavily lobbied for.I dare say the author of last weeks Drum article also has his eye on this issue,and that may give some comfort to the growing numbers of concerned parents and others. Time for the bunker doors to open and let some sunlight in, Hetty.


  6. helvityni March 28, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I better stay away from here as I like, and have always liked nice clothes…

    Also I do not understand why boys and girls can’t go same schools …the Finnish education system does not believe in it, and it’s doing just fine.
    No diets for me either, but long walks with Jack Russell.

    PS. Sam Jandwich, why do you think you would have a good time visiting girls only schools, the co-ed girls might know more… 🙂


    • helvityni March 28, 2012 at 11:41 am #

      ..that does not read very well: we do not have separate boys and girls schools in Finland


    • Jennifer Wilson March 28, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      I like clothes too, Helvi, just don’t like anybody else telling me what I have to like and how I have to look!


      • Hypocritophobe March 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

        ..or what you can listen to,what you can do with ‘your’ body, what ‘should’ offend you, how ‘your’ mind has been pornified,objectified,french fried-ified and when you should look away …. etc etc.

        Perhaps the Morality Marauders should be renamed Cheap Trick?

        Remember their big (only) hit?

        (Although the ‘Smear Industry’ label, does kinda cover the campaign tactics.)
        I think the Title,
        “NSW Alternative Woman of the Year” is far more appropriate.
        It carries more honour and is more humble.(Less obligations-aka pay-backs!)
        (I know, I know , it’s another 7 legged cat,but the imagery rocks!)


    • paul walter March 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm #



  7. hudsongodfrey March 28, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    The Jenny Craig thing, was a complete storm in a teacup, rightly pointed out.
    There’s really nothing for it but to expose how some people’s fairly shallow and superficial perceptions and some fairly revealing double standards seem to have got the better of them.

    Perhaps the difference between opinion and journalism might be highlighted here as well. We’d have hoped any decent journalist would’ve asked either the school or Ms Smith for their side of the story before publishing.

    As for Jackie O she does a show with Kyle for crying out loud. Either the whole thing is a put up job to shock people or listeners would surely have some sense of where she stands in relation to the kind of material that show puts out. Okay. So it’s not rocket surgery to figure out that she’s probably not overly committed to feminist principles. But surely the point is that somebody didn’t stop at assuming that they actually asked her. The real shock is that anyone thought “are you a feminist” was supposed to be a rhetorical question!

    As a matter of fact I didn’t know there’d been a law passed saying that feminism was obligatory for all females! Would that law exclude all males? Or just Kyle?

    Mia Freedman, who I’ve really nothing against, never seems to appear twice in the same photograph. She wrote, and maybe still does, an opinion piece in the Sunday papers which I’m in the habit of browsing through, and I happened to notice this. So here is a woman who’s always photographed differently in the pictures of her accompanying the articles and always to good advantage. Do we dissect this detail in terms of body image issues or assume she’s completely narcissistic…. I could go on but then I realise this is all happening in my own mind read the article if its interesting and try not to assume any more spurious shit about people!

    That seems to be what this is all about. Putting people in pigeon holes according to some vaguely categorical criteria is perhaps explicable in terms of an evolved reflex for telling friend from foe at first glance. But seriously! In the 21st century we know better than that, and can do a heck of a lot better. And we don’t even need to try that hard!


    • helvityni March 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

      Another sensible Hudson reply 🙂


    • doug quixote March 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

      ‘rocket surgery’?


      • Hypocritophobe March 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

        aka ‘brain science’


      • hudsongodfrey March 28, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

        I don’t want to open a Pandora’s can of worms, but when using a cliché one may as well try and reclaim some modicum of originality 🙂


        • doug quixote March 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

          Hmmm. Might be a whole new field of untapped metaphor here : we can cross our chickens before they hatch while we pick over the bones of all things before passing judgement on whether or not religion is the root of all evil and money is the saving grace of us all.

          Pandora’s can of worms might well be the least of our voyages upon a sea of troubles.


          • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 12:08 am #

            Mind your I’s and T’s and make sure you cross your P’s and dot your Q’s ?

            A bird in the hand gathers no moss?

            Every cloud has a silver lining,but you can’t make it drink?

            The way to a mans heart is a meal best served cold?


  8. samjandwich March 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I don’t know, I reckon the whole point is to make the mainstream work for everyone. Imagine, a world with no bigots. hmmm actually it could turn into a constant struggle to find anything interesting to talk about! oh well.

    But who else can you think of that’s more deserving of that particular award?!

    PS Helvi, it’s true that I flat-out refused to go to an all-boys school, not just because I like girls, but more because I know what boys get up to when they think no-one’s looking (a state Mr Sandilands apparently continues to exist in).

    Meanwhile I’ve no idea what goes on at all-girls schools… but doesn’t the mainstream give us a lot of material to feed our fertile imaginations!


  9. Elisabeth March 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    A great post, Jennifer and to the point. This moralising seems to be everywhere. People telling other people what they can and can’t do. As Don Watson writes in his book ‘On Indignation’: indignation derives from God.
    ‘God being first in everything is fundamental…how dare you…One is to obey his comments, the whole ten of them, seven of which begin with thou shalt not’.

    There’s not much here in what thou shalt do, but then we can turn that into thou shalt not NOT call thyself a feminist, or anything else as the dictates determine.


  10. Hector March 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    An unarguable argument. It is worrying that public debate is becoming so polarised – between the Few who are apparently permitted to have a view and express it and the Many, who are judged (by the Few) to be either brainless or wrong.

    Flush them all, I say – however many times you have to push the button.


  11. gerard oosterman March 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    In a way, the whole world of commerce and advertising is telling us non-stop to buy this or do that. One reason I never watch Commercial TV. At the sight of any advertisement my eyes glaze over and I try and imagine a nude woman. According to the latest polls, that happens to males every 4 minutes or so. How pathetic. Always thought most men conjure up creative thoughts about poetry or innovative road signs.,lovely paintings.
    I remember the Coca Cola trucks entering all Dutch schools soon after WW2. No wonder I have an aversion to ads, especially Coke ads…


    • Hector March 28, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

      Bear up Gerard. Bloomers are better than nudes. I think of Iris (that’s the flower, not the naked woman of my imagined acquaintance). 🙂


      • helvityni March 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

        Hector, are you referring to the bearded Irises? ( is that the plural of Iris, the flower?)


    • Jennifer Wilson March 28, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      You TRY and imagine a nude woman? You have to TRY? Sheesh, Gerard I thought hetero blokes could always conjure up a nude woman.


      • samjandwich March 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

        If we could just conjure’em up then what would be the point of ever leaving the house?? 🙂


  12. gerard oosterman March 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Yes, but if you have been subjected to an adv. for life insurance and ‘dying at any moment’ together with ‘how will your wife cope’, it takes more time and a much more vivid image. Also with age it is every 5 minutes now.
    Guess what; I just had 2 within 7 minutes. There’s hope for all of us.


  13. Ray (novelactivist) March 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    Not sure I’m with you on this.

    Jenny Craig is a wealthy multinational with a very large advertising budget. I don’t see their freedom of speech, or their CEO’s, being threatened any time soon.

    I’m sure that if we went through a list, we’d find many examples of people we wouldn’t invite into our schools.

    This is about endorsement. By asking her to speak they endorse Jenny Craig and therefore the diet industry. Body image is a serious issue amongst schoolgirls and the diet industry is a major beneficiary. By making a fuss the campaigners have drawn public attention to the issue. Science keeps pointing out that diets don’t work. Jenny Craig feeds off women’s insecurities.

    This is a protest and protest is a part of free speech too. What, they shouldn’t protest?


    • Jennifer Wilson March 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

      Amy Smith isn’t going into schools. She’s been invited to speak at a conference for teachers about women in business. If she was going into schools to talk about weight loss I’d sign the petition.

      I don’t agree that in inviting her to speak they’re endorsing Jenny Craig or that it’s about endorsement. I think they want a successful business woman.

      No problem with them protesting – I’m objecting to their reasons, not their right!


      • hudsongodfrey March 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

        Well asked Ray and well answered Jennifer. At the end of the day people’s actions are as often as not shaped by a cynical sense of how they’re viewed by certain others. In this case schools’ management are as always sadly more concerned with parents than students, while the media care only for a controversy which sells. Is it any wonder that this all turns into a game of spot the greater cynic at 30 paces?


      • Ray (novelactivist) March 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

        Yes, and still we could come up with a list of inappropriate speakers. By asking a person to speak you are effectively endorsing them as an appropriate speaker. What if they had asked Gina Reinhart, or heavens, MTR? Wouldn’t they be inviting them because they wanted to hear what they wanted to say?

        The diet industry deserves to be questioned.

        Btw, the students from these schools will likely hear about the conference and knowing that their teachers are listening to Smith, may think she’s a good role model.


        • hudsongodfrey March 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

          Is there not a kind of inverse logic that implies speakers ought to tailor their material if not their choice of appearances to suit their audience?

          It seems a tad unfair to assume the the approved short lists have to be vetted so thoroughly as to ensure that only the most boring and conventional ideas are allowed reach student’s tender ears. Pardon me please for saying so but that sounds like a job for,… well you know who. Censorious people and arbiters of moral taste, political correctness or in the case of the girls hem lengths and sensible shoes.

          Maybe just occasionally kids if only the older ones ought to be able to hear from the odd body whom their elders aren’t quite prepared to endorse. Somebody (I think it may have been Jimmy Page*) once said that the best way to kill Rock music would be to teach it in schools. One wonders whether a visit from MTR wouldn’t in fact inspire a flurry of scouring the internet for porn at students’ next opportunity.

          I think maybe the teacup whence this storm precipitated might better be used to dose some people with a powder usually followed by a time spent in a reclining position.

          I like kids. I used to be one. We had Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, these days its moved on from Marilyn Manson to Nick Minaj et al, or Delta’s ex worse luck! Shock horror!!!

          Someday somebody’s going to figure out that kids at a certain age are liable to be filtering more than just the nuanced matter of whether some lady from the fat farm is appropriate to speak on the subject of herself and what a wonderful example of a business woman she may or may not be.

          *Granted Mr Page OBE might not an ideal invitee to a girl’s school if Lori Maddox’s version of events were to be believed.


        • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2012 at 5:42 am #

          Yes the diet industry is dubious, so why don’t the health professionals go directly to the Jenny Craig company and question them, rather than to the school alliance, I wonder?

          I’ve got no concerns about Jenny Craig losing the right to speak, my interest is in one group attempting to prevent another group from inviting someone they disapprove of to speak. I’d be inclined to start a petition about Jenny Craig’s methods, addressed to the company, not to try to prevent the school group from asking the CEO to speak on being a woman in business.

          Re MTR – yes plenty of groups invite her to speak on the “sexualisation” of girls and women, but they aren’t interested in hearing her views on abortion.

          I’m not agreeing with the choice of Amy Smith as a speaker, I do defend the school’s right to choose the speaker they want. In the bigger picture, they want a woman who is successful in business. As capitalism commodifies and exploits humans, and in many instances specifically targets women and children for commodification and exploitation, can there be a suitable speaker?


          • doug quixote March 29, 2012 at 6:54 am #

            Your last question is very much to the point. Most businesses advertise; most advertising agencies use sex and sexuality to sell almost everything. By that measure almost every CEO of any successful organisation will be ‘unsuitable’.

            Perhaps MTR was miffed at not getting the gig?


    • Hypocritophobe March 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      “This is about endorsement. By asking her to speak they endorse Jenny Craig and therefore the diet industry. Body image is a serious issue amongst schoolgirls and the diet industry is a major beneficiary.”

      And obesity isn’t an issue? Body image is not just the thin side of the equation.
      By arguing ‘it doesn’t matter what you look like’, is also damaging.This may actually be the catalyst which PRECEDES eating disorders NOW and later.
      ‘it doesn’t matter what you look like’-This is the counter message popular amongst the Gravy Train-ers.

      Do we always throw the baby out with the bath water because it comes from a commercial source? I’ll bet the JC Org knows more about ‘diet’ as a science than the moral right do about psychology,sex or any other battle on their agenda.
      Unless of course you include their ‘paid’ advisors complimentary analyses.
      I’d rather have qualified independent dieticians and counsellors(NOT church employees) in schools.

      However at least with J Craig you know what she sells up front.And why.
      The Gravy Train-ers have set the standards, and now want to change the rules.
      Perhaps the fact that Jenny Craig is perceived as trawling the same fertile seas, (threat) as the Women and Girl Gravy Train-ers,is why the outrage is vocal?

      If Jenny Craigs CEO must get out of school students heads (and I have seen no proof she has yet, or intends to get a sales pitch into them, via the conference), then so too must the Conservative Right Smear Industry.Same for the fast food industry,sports clothing manufacturers and school chaplains, and countless other profiteers and manipulators.
      At this stage it looks to me like a successful business woman has been invited to talk.If she was a religious zealot I would be far more concerned.
      I’d be more than happy to see the worth of content, the motivations and sponsorship etc,heading into schools fully probed.
      This is not a school venue.

      And schools are for education- (the passing on of knowledge), not pet shops.
      Kids should not go to school to be sold pups.Religious or otherwise.

      I actually recommend that you read fully what the anti Jenny Craig petition claims Ray.
      The links are in the kitchen blog,along with some C & P of the spurious claims.


  14. gerard oosterman March 28, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Could The Alliance of Girls Schools not invite a better person than a captain of weight-loss industry (who supported Kylie Sandipants) to speak at a conference? It is a strange choice. I would be at the front line with a huge placard too. Talk about catering to the lowest denominator pops up.

    Why not invite that Finnish expert on education that was interviewed by Emma Alberici a few weeks ago? Mind you, he might well have questioned the need for an ‘Alliance of Girls Schools.’ The name has shades of theTemperance society about it.

    As for Prue Goward, she was booked for speeding at a primary school 40km zone in Marulan a few years ago. Talk about calling a kettle black!


    • hudsongodfrey March 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

      Or you could give them the drum on Sex Ed in the 50’s 🙂


      • gerard oosterman March 28, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

        Alway sleep with your hands above the blankets and think of India at the feet of Mother England.


        • hudsongodfrey March 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

          How very MTR approved I’m sure 🙂


  15. doug quixote March 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    It is very tempting to say “You can say whatever you like so long as you agree with me.”

    But that is an authoritarian, even a totalitarian sentiment; modern democratic pluralist societies require, nay demand that freedom of speech and expression be respected and defended.

    Freedom of Speech requires that we allow those who do not agree with us to put forward their views. And that we are not prevented from criticising those views.


  16. Hypocritophobe March 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    And if Dr Fiona Stanley was invited, chose to come, but was sponsored by a large mining company, is her content/inspiration not worthy? Is the endorsement burden too much to value the content?
    This is a conference/summit situation.I think Smiths inclusion is acceptable,if her content is worthwhile.

    I still smell “How dare you” coming from the Gravy Train-ers.
    (Who get to lecture DIRECTLY to children.Big, big diff)
    Is Sex Ed, Mr Ed’s sibling?


    I’m afraid you would have to get a security clearance or a working with children’s permit to get within coo-ee of this conference,in this day and age.
    Unless of course you are aligned with certain religious groups.
    If you make your placard big enough you could sneak in behind it.
    Or dress up as Scary Spice.

    Now about that beard……….


  17. lola March 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Maybe Amy could talk to Kyle about his weight ‘isssh – you’? I cannot believe the fuss over this. How utterly ridiculous. She is not talking to young women, she is talking to teachers.


    • hudsongodfrey March 28, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

      Oh NO not those scary impetuous impressionable lefty teachers!

      You’ve wrecked my whole bit on kids and Rock music by buggering it up with facts! I thought she was talking to the kids?


  18. paul walter March 28, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    Well, I suppose Dr.Wilson is right, as far as it goes, in claiming the snotty-schoolers are within their right to bring a corporate figure to present as role model for students.
    As Gerard obliquely points out, they are the sort of folk who would likely bring a conservative, legs- shut Tankard-Reist type in for a show, rather than a Cate Blanchett free thinker/ spirit.
    Am glad am getting older, who knows what the products of Hitler Youth camps will be like when they’re loosed on the world; certainly the types from home schooling and the bible colleges in the states are a bit weird, from FB accounts I’ve read, let alone the brainwashed Valley girls of secular consumer capitalism.
    I’m glad the celebrated Fairfax Pru Goward on
    Jackie O article got recycled.It so provides an example of why Australians remain so narcissistic, self preoccupied and unaware of life outside of media constructs operative in cocooned from reality, in western societies, when encouraged thus.
    There are literally thousands of square metres of self-absorption-encouraging Britney Spears/Angelina Jolie guff on Fairfax online- Angelina’s skirt rucks up as she alights from a car in a moment of carelessness, was Whitney wearing panties or thongs when she snorted fizzy coke over her dress, from a can. How Nicole Kidman went into shock after looking in a mirror on finding she was past her teens, why Brad won’t shag Jennifer (Anniston) if she wears white nail-polish…
    I might give Razor a read; the humour of ten years ago does seem gone and it’s mainly rightish harshness with her from more recently times, particularly on things middle eastern and left-feminist.


  19. paul walter March 29, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Is Insomnia a gift?
    My cyber space wonderings brought me to the Nina Funnel article just out on Dieting obsession with young women, the link I ignored informing readers that the Wendy Craig exec was specifically addressing teachers, which seems very Tupperwear and a little patronising of adult educated women and the profile on Jackie O, who ‘s bimbo projection probably relates to the reality that she’d be boned by her bosses for not defending “brand” and saying what she really thinks about Sandilands and feminism.
    And finally the Razor essay at the Drum. V funny, the old Razor, sharp and funny.


  20. paul walter March 29, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    Just noticed Jenny’s comment on the teachers trying to block the Jenny Craig, I’d say fair enough provided the teachers were allowed not to attend if they desired, without facing retaliation from their bosses.
    Are they forced to see the Jenny Craig person during paid time, or their own time?
    Finally “sexualisation”. Way too “pop” a term, very glib, way too much much over determination and slippage as to meaning(s). Is it deliberately vague?
    Nonetheless, I’d suggest it does some meaning in reality, derived perhaps originally from a sociological root to do with “commodification”.
    Am surprised feminists have given up a bit on the conditioning of the young, the notion deserves more investigation, even if you are not a strict Trot.


  21. doug quixote March 29, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    “Give me the child until he is
    seven and I care not who has him thereafter.”

    Baltasar Gracian, Jesuit.


  22. danniellemiller1 March 29, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    To provide some background that may assist as things do seem somewhat confused here.

    As an educator and sponsor of the Alliance Conference, I initially raised concern over having the leader of a diet industry speak at a conference for leaders of girls’ schools with a polite email, and when my concerns did not seem to be understood, I sent the Alliance a more detailed letter of concern which you may read at this link:

    I also decided to withdraw my company’s sponsorship of the conference.

    Interestingly, in the context of freedom of speech, I was then told I by the Alliance that I was “unprofessional” for raising my concerns publicly on my blog and that this reflected “poorly” on me. Censorship indeed.

    Rest assured many health practitioners did then also send polite letters and make polite phone calls. It is my understanding it was only after Lydia Jade Turner’s polite phone call was dismissed ( Ms Turner was claims she was told the matter would not be discussed and she was then hung up on by the Executive of the Alliance) that as a last resort an on-line petition was created.

    I don’t think that Jenny Craig, part of the global giant Nestle, with their multi-million dollar marketing budget, will struggle to find an audience for their messages, do you? I admire individuals who also stand by their beliefs and chose to speak up against BIg Diet Inc. Why must they be told they cannot speak up? Isn’t belittling their genuine concern censorship too? Wasn’t the whole point of protests like Occupy to encourage people to stop being complacent sheep and to be active?

    I decided I would sign the on-line petition too but I will admit I did wrestle with some of the concerns you are expressing here before doing so as I agree calling on speakers to be banned can be a slippery slope. I was asked to justify my stance in light of freedom of speech on my blog:

    “Yeah, it’s really enlightened to try and ban someone because you don’t like the company they work for.
    Is that what you preach to the people you claim to be helping – if you don’t like their views shut them down.
    You should rename your outfit as the Unelightened Thought Police.”

    After considering this carefully, for it raises a valid point, I came up with the following:

    “I will state that I have never aimed at banning Amy Smith or Jenny Craig. I understand that Jenny Craig is a legitimate business and have made it clear I appreciate Ms Smith is a highly accomplished woman. My letter (in link above) expresses my concern over the selection of the leader of a diet company being selected as a speaker at a conference for leaders of girls’ education.

    As an educator, author, media commentator, and advocate for girls I felt I had a professional responsibility to voice my concerns ( which may I add was not easy to do given the Alliance is made up of women I deeply respect) . As a friend to many young women struggling with eating disorders, and a mother to two young girls, I also felt compelled to speak my truth. Under freedom of speech, I also have the right to do this. As a sponsor of this event, I also have the right to withdraw my funding if I do not wish to see my funds spent spent legitimizing the diet industry in this way.

    A colleague, Nina Funnell, offered me feedback which I think also raises a valid point: “If a respected expert in the field such as yourself can’t offer feedback and raise concerns without risking attack how on earth can girls- who often feel disenfranchised and powerless- be expected (let alone encouraged) to stand up for the things they believe in. The teenage girl in me is cheering you on.” Teen girls have incredibly radars for inauthenticity. I would feel quite the hypocrite talking to them about standing up for what they believe in if I didn’t model that I have the courage of my convictions.

    In terms of what Enlighten (my company) teaches young women I can assure you we do not preach anything, nor would we ever act as thought police. Our company’s mission statement makes this clear: “ Enlighten encourages girls to reach their own conclusions 
and to know their own minds. Rather than telling girls what to do, we focus on informing, inspiring and empowering them. We
 encourage girls to be discerning consumers and critical thinkers and to find their own voice and power in a complex world.” Education is the key. In fact, in much of my writing on young women I warn of policing and patronizing.

    In all honestly, based on the Alliance’s response to the expressions of concern they have received to date, I do not think they will reconsider their choice of speaker. However, my goal in making my concerns public was to illicit vital conversations on girls and dieting and body image. This issue has absolutely achieved this.

    This morning a teacher at a girls’ school posed a query of what girls in schools learning about freedom of speech might make of the protests. I encouraged him to get his students to read widely from both perspectives and debate the issue. Debates like this, that will now begin happening in our classrooms, also are an absolute win.”


  23. danniellemiller1 March 29, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    May I also add Jennifer that there are surely plenty of other successful business woman out there who could be asked to speak – women who do not have their current success linked to the diet industry, an industry that relies on generating body dissatisfaction? Keep in mind that body image angst is a HUGE issue for young women. If Ms Smith still worked at Honda, I would be the first to roll out the red carpet for her. If she was to speak at a business summit, I may well attend to hear her. But mixing Diet Inc and girl’s education in the current climate of body image angst and disordered eating patterns simply cannot be helpful.

    Anyway, great to see discussion happening.


    • gerard oosterman March 29, 2012 at 8:13 am #

      May I humbly suggest that The Alliance of Schools for Girls join up with The Alliance of Schools for Boys to try and overcome body image and eating disorders in girls and budding misogyny in boys.
      May I further suggest to only invite business representatives as a last resort and only if the list of artists, scientists, humanitarians, philosophers, comedians, streetwalkers, hobos and other reasonable flotsam of society has been exhausted.


    • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 8:37 am #


      You’re not just speaking with Jennifer privately you’ve posted on an open blog where you ostensibly may wish to influence the opinions of others into the bargain.

      With that in mind didn’t you seem, as did I initially, to just get it wrong? The woman was invited to speak for teachers not children. So I just want to know at what age you do think women are going to be able to cope with the presence of somebody speaking about their experiences as a woman in business? The topic was not even anything to do with the Jenny Craig product.

      So maybe the guilt here is by association with an apparent endorsement of weight loss. And there again I think a more balanced approach might be to say that we are in fact receiving some very mixed messages there. On one hand the “obesity epidemic” is going to get us, and on the other you’re telling us that being thin should only be entertained for the right reasons! I think you’re right to say that, but not that it should be construed to mean that all weight loss is demonstrably bad. It isn’t!

      Presumably one of the other objections associated with this is that a perceived endorsement filters down to students by some as yet undisclosed process of osmosis. All I can say is thank goodness kids are good at filtering out this barrage of bullshit and angst that their elders are heaping upon them.

      Please don’t think I’m attacking you or your cause I don’t think advocacy is necessarily a bad thing. I even agree that telling kids that its okay not to conform to one view of the world that they may see around them is a good thing. Maybe it runs into the problem of wanting for them to conform to your alternative set of ideals, but frankly I don’t think it matters much because at a certain age what most kids want to do more than anything is whatever their elders don’t endorse. So I think kids in their own less sophisticated way are a lot smarter and better at filtering these mixed messages that they’re given credit for.

      The real problem with your and others’ responses to this issue is just that it is overreaching and makes you look petty, over-sensitive and inclined to want to set yourselves up as arbiters of your own peculiar form of political correctness.

      I hope you don’t mind my saying that for your own good you ought to let this one go because the link between the proposed event and any real harm is just far too tenuous for any real case to be made against.


      • helvityni March 29, 2012 at 8:46 am #

        …not anyone from Mc Donalds though…
        Writers would be good, get the kids (and the teachers) reading again, books I mean.


        • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 9:06 am #

          Get Adam Savage from mythbusters in.

          He gave a spectacularly good speech at last weekend’s reason rally in Washington.


    • doug quixote March 29, 2012 at 9:05 am #

      You seem to have the wrong end of the stick. A senior businesswoman is asked to speak to a group of teachers – teachers – about success in business.

      Please reply.


      • Dejan Tesic March 29, 2012 at 9:53 am #

        Given the trends in our education system (casualisation, managerialism, performance management), that knowledge might come in handy for the teachers.


        • helvityni March 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

          Hi there,Dejan, I think I have met you somewhere else, nice to see new faces here 🙂


  24. paul walter March 29, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Nah, Hudson. I think she has cause for complaint, although I’d agree with all posters that the idea of the corporate exec being shut down does seem dangerous.
    Perhaps better thought out, it could have been done as a panel discussion that included a number of viewpoints, although I agree that it will be huge publicity for both Jenny Craig and the snotties, who make a statement on their conservatism.
    Nestle have a shocking record as to their activities in the Third World. You may as well think of them as the Monsanto of Milk. How reliable would they be talking with educators?
    Helvi’s comment points to the wider underlying phenomena, a creeping corporate intrusion into education. Keep’em out classes and tuckshops, as you keep fundy god-botherers out of school classes and curricula. They don’t see people as people, only as converts or “business opportunities”.
    Can anyone tell me yet whether participation for teachers is arbitrary or mandatory?


    • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      Weight Watchers is the devil incarnate.
      Obesity is cool.
      Does anyone know what Amy Smith is talking about?
      She may actually BE an inspiration.She may have an orphan who dragged herself beyond the gutter.A victim of child abuse,herself.She may change people lives for the better.
      This issue is about noses out of place, market share and the discomfort of some women’s pride.
      They could easily have complained privately,pulled out if necessary and commented on their blogs with dignity.But they want this war with the “diet Industry’ and they may yet get it.
      But I think they will find that lighting fires on too many fronts (porn,pop,fashion,advertising,education etc) in a world full of eager legal eagles may burn their pinkies.
      By the way Two labels.

      Dannielles=As an educator, author, media commentator, and advocate for girls
      MTRs=author, speaker, media commentator, blogger and advocate for women and girls.
      I dare say if I did the rounds with the other usual suspects I would get links to all ‘their’ usual suspects,and they would all have strikingly similar titles, views and links to each other.
      It sure looks like another industry which is exploiting women and girls.
      Does the ‘smear industry’ fit?
      Is ‘continually’ coercing the views you don’t like (as an organised business alliance) not a threat to free speech?
      The ‘advocate’ campaigns are asking for a ‘halt’ or modification of peoples business practises.
      They appear to NOT want these businesses to justify their products or tactics,they simply want the end result, to match their demands or they go viral.
      Is that therefore NOT another form of bullying?
      Either way the war on the corporate mainstream will require a hell of a lot of cannon fodder.I don’t think even the inter-web can produce that many willing doormats.

      I’m afraid whoever worded that petition and sent the emails could still be subject to the same legal system (scenario) we see leaning on JW.
      The end result could also completely by-pass a SLAPP.

      I hope Jenny Craig’s minders are reading this blog too.
      IMHO the words in the petition have well and truly crossed a line.

      PS Is there an ‘inference’ in this campaign (emails/petitions etc) against Craig that somehow the ‘diet industry’ is deceptive and duplicitous?


    • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      Hello Paul,

      Not saying she doesn’t have cause for complaint or that Dannielle’s intentions or advocacy seems particularly objectionable in the least.

      What I did say is that “the link between the proposed event and any real harm is just far too tenuous for any real case to be made against.”

      Helvi makes a keen point too, but the sense of what I’m trying to argue there is probably as valid in relation to McDonald’s as any of Dannielle’s issues with Jenny Craig. More so perhaps because Macca’s are so ubiquitous in our society. So while I did mention the “obesity epidemic” that tabloid journalism and what passes for current affairs television in the country like to bang on about, I don’t think filtering it on behalf of others makes the slightest dent in their product sales.

      I took the opportunity as I saw fit to reflect on the faculty for filtering that information that kids as individuals already do exercise and have to be encouraged to hone as a life skill. I just wanted to point out that the codification of it by any organisation or authority figure is if anything probably the polar opposite of what teenagers in particular are likely to absorb.


  25. paul walter March 29, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    Re Dejan Tesic, that would be true particularly at Sydney uni which undergoing a purge of academics by neolib vice chancellors.


  26. AJ March 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    I find this quote compelling….

    “Refusing to call yourself a feminist is a crime for which there is apparently no adequate punishment, and from which there is no possibility of redemption. You just have to do as you’re told and say you are, even if you don’t feel it’s really you.”

    Funny! I seem to remember that Feminism was supposed to be about Women’s liberation? This is liberation???


    • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

      Yes, funny how the revolutionaries become the orthodoxy!


      • doug quixote March 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

        It suggests to me that matriarchy would be no great improvement on patriarchy. What we need is equality, as near as may be.


      • paul walter March 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

        And the orthodox the revolutionaries when they are as clueless as the revolutionaries orthodox.
        All pain, no gain..


        • helvityni March 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

          Feminism, maybe another slutwalk or a stiletto march is needed to revive it, in the meantime we could always talk about Julia’s jackets, or Anna’s eyebrows, oh, and that Jackie O, she’s much too pretty to be a’s all getting a bit silly…


          • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

            Why can’t men be sluts?


            • Jennifer Wilson March 30, 2012 at 7:36 am #

              As far as I know men can be sluts AND bitches. They just have to practice.


    • helvityni March 29, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

      Who are you quoting there, AJ?


      • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

        It’s take from the 2nd last para of Jennifer’s piece above. Which makes it even harder to escape the context, which I think speaks for itself.


  27. 730reportland March 31, 2012 at 6:08 am #

    So last month, knickers had gotten in a twist over who could or couldn`t call themselves a feminist. This month `Mammamia` has twisted knickers because Jackie-O won`t call herself a feminist. This is a Seinfeld episode. Freedman really should know that JO`s image for her advertising gigs and main gig with vyle kyle would not be enhanced, claiming feminism. Vile with Kyle, and bimbo with toy dog in handbag, left on car roof.


    • Jennifer Wilson March 31, 2012 at 7:38 am #

      LOL, you’re right, Seinfeld episode sums it up really well!


    • hudsongodfrey March 31, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      Here was I thinking that the whole point of objections we made to issues around who can and can’t call themselves feminist as opposed to who should or shouldn’t hinged on whether it was really up to commentators to be arbitrarily and at times even superficially too judgemental of others.

      Then you go off calling Jackie a Bimbo, and we’re back to square one again!


      • helvityni March 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

        Yes, Hudson, that struck me too…

        I’m ‘scared’ of being ridiculed if I confess to liking nice clothes; my dolls were best dressed in the village and not a fashion magazine editor about to influence me…


      • Jennifer Wilson March 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

        Yes, that’s true. According to John Gray we will always be back a square one because we are : “ephemeral struggling animals each with its own passions and delusions” and not even government can “abolish the evils of the human condition.” To imagine otherwise is to indulge in a futile dream of utopia.


        • hudsongodfrey March 31, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

          I got that sense of him from the piece in the ABC’s R&E section, and I commented as such. I’m probably being over-sensitive to the historical nexus between fear and old time fire and brimstone religion as it relates to talk of the perpetual problem of evil in the world. I may be verballing Gray slightly on too small a sample of his philosophy, but were I to take you up on he points you’ve raised alone then I’m sure I could summon a rant fit to honour the memory of Christopher Hitchens.

          It engenders a sense of relief to know you’re struggling with Gray while I’ve only committed thus far to Pinker 🙂


          • Jennifer Wilson March 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

            Maybe you made the better choice!


            • Doug Quixote March 31, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

              Elizabeth Kolbert, writing in The New Yorker :

              “Pinker, a Harvard psychology professor and best-selling science writer, wants to correct what he sees as a basic misperception. Fed on a steady diet of gruesome news—terrorist bombings, schoolyard shootings, deadly riots—people have come to think of life in modern, industrialized societies as dangerous, when just the opposite is true. Western Europe is not only the safest place to live in the world today; it is probably the safest, most peaceful place in the history of humankind.” . . .

              “. . . [T]here has been a surge of research on prehistoric mayhem, and Pinker’s claims grow out of a great deal of this recent work in what might be called atrociology. As is frequently the case with the so-called human sciences, the latest thinking recalls some of the very oldest. The savages, it turns out, really were savage! The medievals did, in fact, go medieval!” *

              There is much to commend in Pinker’s views, and his book concentrates on Europe, rather than elsewhere. I would suggest it also applies very well to Australia.


              As for Gray’s rejoinder, his more pessimistic view seems the more realistic as regards the rest of the world, and the cyclical nature of events is supported by the history of the world, and I consider that his view on human nature is the better one; my reading of the plays of Sophocles and Aristophanes suggest to me that human nature has changed not a whit in 2500 years.


      • 730reportland March 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

        I was saying it is a business decision, probably a smart /good one. The back half of my previous comment

        “Freedman really should know that JO`s IMAGE for her advertising gigs and main gig with vyle kyle would not be enhanced, claiming feminism. Vile with Kyle, and bimbo with toy dog in handbag, left on car roof. “

        is referring to BRANDING and IMAGE that JO is using or rejecting and the recent GIGS she has had. Sorry if that was not clear folks.


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