Jenny Craig stoush: conference sponsor responds to Sheep

29 Mar

Dannielle Miller, Random House Image

Dannielle Miller, educator, author, business woman, children’s advocate and co-founder of Enlightened Education, left the following comments on yesterday’s article on the Jenny Craig situation.

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: 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.”

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.

84 Responses to “Jenny Craig stoush: conference sponsor responds to Sheep”

  1. danniellemiller1 March 29, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Thanks Jennifer for highlighting my response. I note on comments left after this when I initially posted it here questions around me assuming the conference was aimed at young girls. I have never thought this as my letter (at the link on my blog) makes clear.

    I have found this issue challenging as isn’t entirely clear cut by any means and have genuinely enjoyed being stretched by listening to counter arguments.


    • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks for joining in, Dannielle. I still have qualms about this, but not the time right now to talk. Back later.


    • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

      I forgot to say in my last comment that I agree with you withdrawing your funding from the conference as an appropriate expression of disapproval. In fact I agree with many of your observations about the diet industry, and the struggles many girls have with a culture that puts so much emphasis on looking a particular way. I would be interested to know how the Alliance schools address these problems, if indeed they do.

      Unfortunately, given the attention, time and money many adult women give to their weight and appearance it’s inevitable that young girls will be strongly influenced by this. While we aren’t all extreme about it, most of us do care how we look, and have some of our self-esteem tied up in it.

      One of the worst aspects is that the idea of what is attractive in popular culture is so narrow.

      While we will have to agree to disagree on the matter of the speaker at the Alliance conference, I wish you well in your work, and I’m glad you are taking on these issues. I haven’t brought up daughters, and I don’t envy a mother that task these days.


  2. danniellemiller1 March 29, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    P.S It has been disappointing, although sadly not entire;y unexpected, to note how personal and vicious some of the counter arguments have been. I even had a call in the office helpfully inform my team I was a “Fat, blonde, dumb and pathetic chick.” Interesting to note the use of “fat” as a weapon isn’t it! We really are a fat-phobic culture.


    • samjandwich March 29, 2012 at 10:00 am #

      It’s the unenunciated stuff, the “dark matter” of these debates, that I think is the most significant thing to come out of processes such as this. When we have a culture in which latent views such as that expressed by this caller are lurking in the background then it does call into question whether it’s safe to say anything in the public domain unless you do it in such a comprehensive way that it manages to rebuff any possible counter-arguments.

      For my part what I’d like to emphasise here is that as a society it’s true that we still have a very scant awareness of the world that younger people live in – and as a result children are routinely denied rights that most people would be right in feeling perfectly entiteled to, just because they’re young and because we are still imbued with the “seen and not heard” mentality that, let’s face it, most of us who are adults now had to bear the brunt of when we were growing up.

      Be interesting to see what others make of this, and have a good day!


    • helvityni March 29, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      I don’t believe in diets, but I would hardly say that we are a fat-phobic culture, to me obesety is almost epidemic…I have lived in a country towns…and it’s now creeping into the suburbs.

      I would get some doctors and healthcare workers to speak to the teachers.


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

      Just curious.Is the mortality rate of obesity an issue in Australia?
      Are the rates increasing?
      What about extrapolating that to school children.
      See anything?

      What are the costs in terms of health outcomes of obesity?
      What are the costs in terms of health outcomes of ‘eating disorders’?

      Have you actually engaged in a public ‘discussion’ with the diet industry or just shot from the sidelines?


      • danniellemiller1 March 29, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

        Why assume the worse? Of course I have researched the diet industry thoroughly. I am basing my opinions on research presented by leading health practitioners not just here, but internationally. I am a professional! I do not “shoot from the sidelines.” You intention was to offend. You succeeded. Well done.


        • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

          Glad you found time to respond, Dannielle.(albeit selectively)
          I’d ‘love’ you to tell me which parts of the petition you consider NOT to be offensive,or would you like me to quote one sentence at a time for a yes and no?

          If you are so ‘sensitive’ about your body-image that questions about obesity offend you,then I can see why you are attacking JC so strongly.

          You could have just answered the questions I posed, but now you ‘appear’ to be playing the I’m offended card, so as to avoid them.

          I see you singled out the 2 commenters agreeing with you for pats on the back.Very professional.

          Apparently obesity is not a ‘real issue’ to you.National Health professionals must be ripping their hair out,at the thought.(Recent statements and Stats I reviewed yesterday seem to indicate a clear and present danger.It does not just look like media hype to me.

          It’s getting a bit tiresome when the ‘womens and girls’ industry continually lumps all questions/criticism into the ‘personal attack’ basket time after time.
          Read your petition again and tell me it’s not a two pronged personal attack.

          I have read the article you linked many times.
          IMO It’s an apologists piece,nothing more.


          • danniellemiller1 March 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

            Trolling. Not engaging.
            Best wishes.


            • doug quixote March 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

              That’s telling you Hypo! Reminds of something . . . ah yes, “Your terrorist is my freedom fighter.”

              Transposing, “your trolling is my intelligent questioning”

              Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


    • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      I hope neither my nor any other of the comments here have been taken to be offensive by you.

      I would of course condemn the slinging of epithets out of hand. There’s no call for it whatsoever.

      If I was mistaken in thinking you mistook the planned event to be for students rather that teachers then I don’t think if was because I misread you as much as because you weren’t quite making it clear you realised that.

      And that was the thrust of a concern expressed that the link between the proposed event and any real harm is just far too tenuous for any real case to be made against.

      I think everybody would do better if storms in teacups were further avoided.


    • paul walter March 29, 2012 at 11:26 am #

      I thought you looked rather cute, in the pic..


    • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

      Having been on the receiving end of some vicious commentary in various places from people who’ve never seen me, I doubt it has much to do with physical appearance, unless they find out you are blonde, which I am also,though mine is tinged with grey, and then watch out. Any target will do, especially if you’ve got a PhD.

      A couple of things come to mind. One is, what is the worst outcome that can be anticipated from Amy Smith speaking to teachers? Can it really be bad enough to go to such lengths to protest against Ms Smith’s participation? We need a sense of proportion here, and a wider context. For example, girls watch shows such as “Biggest Loser”. They read magazines that directly affect their feelings about their bodies in ways Ms Smith’s speech to their teachers can’t come close to emulating. If we are going to agitate to prevent someone’s right to invite someone else to speak (which is a double whammy: the objective being to persuade or shame the Alliance into withdrawing their invitation, and to silence Ms Smith) then we really must have a very good reason for doing this. And frankly, I can’t see a very good reason.

      Another consideration. If I was a teacher in Ms Smith’s audience I would ask her questions about her company and how she thinks it influences girls’ feelings about their bodies. Teachers aren’t stupid, in my experience, being the mother of one. Then instead of silence on the topic, debate is possible. If you prevent someone speaking, you also prevent the possibility of debate, and the possibility of asking them to be accountable.

      I once had a big disagreement with a dear friend who objected to the university where we both worked at the time allowing its chaplain to host a homophobic speaker on campus. Petitions were organised and I refused to sign. I knew that the man would be howled down and given a good metaphorical kicking, and would never come back again. Instead, he was banned, turned into a martyr, and there was a dreadful fight about freedom of speech that went on for months.


  3. danniellemiller1 March 29, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    I won’t be able to engage further either Jennifer as I am under the pump with deadlines. But yes, I can appreciate there may still be qualms and respect your right to these.

    I just thought my perspective might throw a little more light on the background events.


  4. paul walter March 29, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    Anyone know yet if attendance is compulsory or genuinely optional?
    Wouldn’t want another Uni of Sydney event, with some zealot running amok sacking folk, left right and centre.
    Helvi, I wonder of both lipophilia and lipophobia are symptoms of a deeper malaise,”affluenza”.
    Wealthy consumerist societies seem very cut off from reality. Is it just the marketing, or are deeper factors involved that sophisticated advertising just aggravates?


  5. gerard oosterman March 29, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Who said you were fat? Let me at him and I’ll teach him a lesson he won’t forget.


    • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      Easy…..tiger! 😉


    • danniellemiller1 March 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

      Gerard I believe you, and Paul, mean to be complimentary / chivalrous. Thank you 🙂

      But really, whether I am fat, thin, cute, ugly, or polka dotted should have nothing to do with my right to voice an opinion should it? So often when we criticise women, we start by targeting their looks “fat”,”blonde” etc or their sexuality – “slut”, “lesbian” etc. I am sure Jennifer, as a prominent outspoken woman, has copped similar personal attacks. They are a frustrating distraction from the real issues. I blogged on this recently too actually:

      Thus ends the many links to my work! I apologise if they appear to be an attempt to plug my stuff but when discussing complex issues, I find it is easier to link to a more extended discussion than try to get all one’s points across in a comment.


      • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

        I know! Why don’t we blame it all on Little Britain!

        You see when we complain about the slings and arrows of immoderate comment all it seems to do if reinforce the view that immoderation is the predominant mode of communication.

        I happen do both disagree with that in fact and on the grounds that what we really want is bad speech to be countered with better speech.

        Helvi has the right idea up to a point. Though I happen to think the way forward lies with fostering coping skills rather than saying “stop the world I want get off and start over”.

        Getting wound up over somebody speaking to a group of teachers just seems like highlighting negativity to me. If negativity there is then it is to be refuted with facts and information rather than a sense of righteous indignity that alienates those of us who’re long since inured to people’s claims to being offended by things.


      • lola April 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

        And my comments are still there!
        I just get called old these days, even with me little George W. all vajazzled, bewaxed and bewitching.

        By putting Danielles’ comments up Jennifer, you demonstrate that your church is very broad and accepting, and it shows that you are a grown up who can listen to others.
        I, on the other hand, continue to be a disgrace to my good name :P.


        • Jennifer Wilson April 4, 2012 at 5:59 am #

          Disgracing your own good name is an honourable past time, Lola, and one with which I am very familiar.
          However I have to say that calling it the George W is a bridge too far. 🙂


          • Hypocritophobe April 4, 2012 at 10:19 am #

            How about calling it Kate?


  6. AJ March 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I find it interesting how things change, Historically a mark of wealth in older cultures was a big girth. and don’t forget the rubenesque figure was once considered attractive!

    To me the diet industry is all part of the marketing of change that is so effective in trapping those with a strong need to “fit in” with whatever peer group they aspire to join. This affects both those seeking to lose and gain weight (gym membership and protein shake anyone?)

    @Paul Walter : IMHO fast living, affluent, success driven cultures tend to feed the provision of non essential goods and services like the diet industry, fashion industry and other things we could really healthily live without. Lean Cuisine anyone?


    • samjandwich March 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      This goes back to what I was saying earlier about cultural change. The reason I’m interested in reading this blog is because it seems to me one of Jennifers “projects – if that’s not too strong a word – is to promote a culture/advance an idea that we are all capable of thinking independently, and thus capable of controlling the extent to which we engage in things like advertising, pornography, politics, consumerism – ie the normatives that supposedly (according to some) drive people to do things when they’re not paying attention. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans, as a precocious baby boomer once said.

      Or for another angle, I really liked what JW said in the comments to this article: ie that free speech and free choice aren’t rights, but responsibilities

      All we have to do to get to this stage is to look at ourselves (or if that fails have our heads read (forcibly and in public works best ;-))), and acknowledge where the things we believe in might be questionable based on the fact that they are based on neuroses and presumptions rather than on anything sensible… and the hapless MTR for example provides a wealth of material for this sort of analysis, which it seems to me is why she gets singled out.

      The whole point is to advance the notion that, if someone judges and filters what you say based on the consideration of factors that are irrelevant – your gender, sexuality, attractiveness, girth, or polkadottedness – then it’s their problem, and not yours.


  7. Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    We all seem to be heading for the same cliff.
    Porn industry,diet industry,sports industry,gaming industry,hunting/fishing, women’s and girls industry.

    Could these ‘industries’ be threatening the religion industry?
    Filling the void created by the awakening of intellect and the abandonment of the controlling cults and irrelevant rituals??

    OMG we are becoming anarchists!
    Someone get me God on the line.This is WAR!


    • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      Now who’s attacking people without any real evidence though?

      Sure religion may be something we could do without though personally I find it an inexhaustible source of humour and other quixotic amusements. But the one thing you don’t want to do is give it a cause to rally behind.

      What you really don’t want to do above all else is to abandon rational impulse to stick to the evidence. There’s nothing to say religion was even raised in connection with this topic and until there is you shouldn’t need others to tell you that dragging it into the debate is simply impertinent.


      • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

        Tongue in cheek HG.

        And it was a comment on the ever growing list of ‘industries’ which seem to be moving targets.
        I posed a question amongst the comment, albeit in round about way.

        If there is a common theme……………………..?


        • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

          Hypo, I don’t think religion is involved in this instance.


          • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

            (over old ground again- yes I know “I’m railing again!)

            “involved’ as in ‘main player’ ?, to stop Smith? I agree.Not ‘directly’ involved.

            I am pointing out that (as one would expect) there are (in the broader picture of banning ‘industries’) too many roads leading in similar directions to NOT question ‘whether’ there is movement to ‘dronify’ us, by using ‘commodification’ of us as a reason to ban/modify/adjust what offends the moral crusaders.

            We all have a right to ‘choose’ what we listen to,buy,wear etc.(as long as it is legal)
            If that right to do so ,or menu of choice is changed, by ‘moral crusaders etc…etc…

            I am trying to point out that ‘this scenario’ is of the same ilk as Christian conservative campaigns at a similar stage in their evolution.

            I strongly feel society is (rightly) rejecting the falsehood of religion and the ‘industries’ being targeted are a threat to ‘some’ ‘stakeholders’.
            Religion is, and will be, replaced by a vast array of recreational pursuits.Indoor and outdoor.And thank God for that.


  8. Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Well well.No answers provided by Johnston and the Drum article is closed.

    38 measly comments allowed through.
    How predictable.
    Nothing going on there.


    • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      Even I got cut, and I hardly ever get censored! It abso f-king lutely sucks!

      He said inserting the exact form of a delete expletive that got him censored from another topic where he tried to post Adam Savage’s wonderful speech from the reason rally without censoring it too much!


      • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

        I notice Daniel Jeffares had posted a comment in the articles comment area.

        Do you think it is possible that the owner of articles at the Drum can shut down there own article,or cause that to happen by way of legal interference?
        38 comments, on this topic, (in the middle of the week) is truly bizarre

        I would love to see how many others also failed to get comments posted.
        And why.


        • doug quixote March 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

          I got mine posted : (at risk of self referencing)

          “Doug Quixote :

          29 Mar 2012 7:27:52am

          I think this is called playing a straight bat.

          We were promised a refutation of Barns’ arguments; we have seen nothing of the kind.

          “We know that for some people no amount of discussion will satisfy their complaints” sums up the reply perfectly.

          Will Ms Johnston please address the issues?”

          Needless to say there is no reply. Not to Barns’ comment either.


          • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

            Good work DQ,
            but in the light of last weeks discussion does 38 comments seem, well, strange?

            All in ‘the minds of the Mods’.
            Now there’s a whole Kettle of Worms.


          • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

            DQ & Hypo – Just went and had a look – it’s odd that the comments have been closed so quickly. And disappointing that the reply doesn’t reveal who the experts were, as requested by parent Daniel J. If there have been such assessments it shouldn’t be difficult to disclose who conducted them, and that’s really all Daniel asked for.

            Very puzzling and unsettling for parents involved.


        • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

          Jennifer or Gerard might know. I’ve often wondered whether the authors of the articles are allowed moderate them or its always left to ABC staff to take care of that?


          • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

            No, staff moderate. I complained once about abuse and they took it down.


            • doug quixote March 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

              Sometimes I wonder if they actually read the stuff. One fairly innocuous comment was trolled by someone I don’t know from Adam (or Eve) saying I had “blood on my hands”! My complaint achieved a removal, thankfully; but the site is either moderated or it isn’t.

              I don’t care if it is open slather, but I’ve suffered enough from deliberate trolling to wonder. I tend to reply in keeping with the tenor of the comment to me. Perhaps I’m combative??


            • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

              Only Once?


          • gerard oosterman March 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

            No, the moderation was never in my hands. I have given up on any theory about why responses don’t turn up. Sometimes very insulting responses get up at other times you could be writing about the setting sun or yellow daisies and it doesn’t appear. A total mystery!
            It is much harder now for me to get articles up and believe this is due to fierce competition amongst journos and writers. The print media has been massacred by IT and hence herds of journos/writers trying to get traction elsewhere.
            In my case it might well be a penchant for ‘crack a fat’ genre that irks the editor. Who knows?


      • doug quixote March 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

        What’s wrong with the word flicking? or forking? or funking? or fluking?

        It is all in the minds of the moderators, is it not?

        Personally I have no objection to fucking as a word, so long as it is used occasionally for shock value (and not quite as often as on “The Thick of It”. recently aired!).


        • Jennifer Wilson March 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

          That was my favourite show while it was on. Love that evil Malcolm.


          • helvityni March 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

            Mine too, Jen, the show was fantastic, the English do these sort of things so well, and the acting is always immaculate…


        • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

          remarkable interview between the ubiquitous Mr Stephen Fry and the creator of “In the Thicke of it” on Fry’s language program last week. The description of negotiations between the writers and the BBC was that the could have 100 F-words as long as there weren’t more than 3 C-words. Hilarious!


          • doug quixote March 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

            Indeed HG.

            People say there is nothing worth watching on TV, but I find it is a rare night lately that either SBS or the ABC do not have a worthwhile program. Dateline, Foreign Correpondent, 4Corners, Stephen Fry (often!) the numerous docos . . . even Jenny Brockie’s show. Some excellent stuff.


            • helvityni March 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

              Jennie is pretty good most of the time, she cares ,she takes interest in people on her show , which is pretty rare these days…


            • hudsongodfrey March 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

              I’ll second the motion for Jenny Brockie


          • helvityni March 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

            Stephen’s language program is excellent, love the man…


            • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

              He seems very genuine,that’s for sure.Bit of a big softy.

              On another level I think I miss Geoffrey Robertson’s Hypothetical.
              It was more telling of the participants than Q $ A or Kitchen Crabnet could ever be,and showed who had wit and humour, as well as quick thinking.
              (and a little squirming now and then.Which is good exercise for pollies)
              Love to see GR get a stellar line up,and then spring the Julian Assange story on them.


            • helvityni March 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

              Kitchen cabinet is crap indeed, just a peek into someone’s kitchen. ABC’s chief on-line political commentator making cakes, her Ruddbot was just as irritating as her yellow sunhat and her pinned-up hair..


      • Hypocritophobe March 29, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

        Savage by name….


  9. 730reportland March 31, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    Good on Danni. Nice to see somebody giving the correct whack for the correct reason. Too much Corporate induced damage is done by giving young people feel bad messages to sell their product. Starts with the `tween` market and continues all through our life. Not great for mental health.


  10. Beste April 1, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    “I admire individuals who also stand by their beliefs and chose to speak up against BIg Diet Inc.”

    Big Diet Inc? Has a nice ring to it..

    Kind of like Big Porn Inc.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 1, 2012 at 6:46 am #

      Just what I thought. It’s the phrase de jour. What about Big Religion Inc?


      • Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 9:18 am #

        Or the counter movement to big Religion?

        (Using the correct intonation, of course)

        Big Fuckin’ Deal!


  11. Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    By the way,now that Excess Baggage has died a natural death,I expect,no demand, that Dannielle and her friends get on the blower and insist Australia’s Biggest Loser is immediately scrapped from our TV screens.
    If she can do that and take out a few more reality TV shows crossing the line we will all be better off.
    Surely Beauty and The Geek is an insult to women – and men.Especially academics.
    Ever heard of a show called Hunks and Brainy Blondes? Is it next?

    The list or puerile crap is endless, but the protests seem to be very selective, albeit the attack method is always the same.Or are the targets always the ones competing for the same share of the kitty?


    • Jennifer Wilson April 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      This puzzles me too, Hypo. The Biggest Loser I’ve only briefly glanced at, it looks like torment, and why nobody is up in arms about it I don’t know. I can’t believe it’s anything but cruel, and promoting extreme diets that are supposed to do harm and fail. I still maintain that women’s mags do the most harm.


      • hudsongodfrey April 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

        I think that there’s a rather obvious answer to that question. I’ve not watched a lot of these show myself either, but it is clear that you’re encouraged to empathise with the contestants and I think that makes all the difference.

        Granted the “anti’s” are ideological successors to people who rang up to complain about Alvin Purple never having watched a minute of it, so maybe they have watched programs like Biggest Loser and had fewer issues having done so. Time to complain about Masterchef instead!

        When it comes to really wanting to complain about reality television maybe it’s not too much of a stress to say The Apprentice encourages its contestants to ape the kind of psychopathic behaviour that if rife in the corporate world, so why aren’t we all up in arms about that instead?

        Now somebody tell me what issues they have with celebrity dancing and the puzzle will be complete?


  12. paul walter April 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Big religion is something that is influential in matters discussed here.
    Have caught the last couple of episode of a show on Friday night on SBS following the history of religion in the USA. At least one of the ideas proffered on the show relates to fundy religion organising itself in the late seventies, after Jimmy Carter tried to impose a modest tax, which particularly upset the Pentecostals. Within a few short years, Carter was gone but Falwell was hon-nobbing it with Reagan in the Whitehouse.
    The more insidious Pat Robertson, in the nineties, organised the laity, particularly in concert with conservative Republicans, to ensure control from grassroots level up, in the stacking of schoolboards, town councils and local law enforcement to further the objectives of fundamentalist Xtianity, against secularist and liberal Xtian goals concerning health, social policy and education.
    Big Religion runs its own colleges, has influenced the movement of home education and hung on to its money, in return providing an army of people to get conservative Republicans and more recently conservative Democrats elected at higher levels and ensuring a reinforcement and rationale to the wider conservative ideological foundation of home, family and country that is symbiotic with it. This is well liked by the biggest corporates, who want government kept ineffectual and much critical thinking about the real world wound back.
    If you think of how the US, hence the world, has been railroaded into some crazy and trillion dollar expensive military and commercial dereg antics over the last decade, it gets exponentially more worrying- entrenched reaction.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      George W Bush: “God told me to strike al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.”


  13. Doug Quixote April 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Freedom of speech requires us to tolerate those who we do not agree with.

    If we advocate banning and censoring things we do not like – whether it is porn or biggest loser, or whether it is Bill Henson or Andrew Bolt – we are no better than the bacwa* types.

    * (banning and censoring wowser agenda)


    • Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      Thank you for highlighting the point I was making
      The inconsistency of the Gravy-Train-ers.
      Why is Jenny Craigs CEO worthy of banning, and not everything else of the same ilk.
      Whose audience is wider a school conference or main stream,peak hour television?
      Either the ‘banners’ should attempt shut everything similar down,(or at least be vocally consistent with their condemnation) or STFU.
      You cannot claim to represent Girls and Women, and take the soft targets with hard tactics,false premise,no evidence and bullying behaviour and claim any form of moral superiority.

      It is the modus operandi and moving goal posts I am condemning.


      • Doug Quixote April 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

        It is the old thin edge of the wedge. They need to start somewhere, and soft(ish) targets are the place to start. Just as the subject matter must be something which we can nearly all agree with : who does not object to the sexualisation and commodification of small children? If they exist, they must be evil.

        Then of course, muddy the waters and smudge the boundaries, conflate girls with women, decry anything that a small child might possibly see if it was able to wander so far, ban everything which has (in their minds) evil tendencies.. . . And so it goes.


        • Jennifer Wilson April 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

          Agree, DQ, the muddying and conflation are deliberate I think. I agree with some of what MTR etc protest about children, but I don’t agree that censorship for adults is the answer, therefore there’s something wrong with me.

          I’m also totally puzzled by why anyone is surprised at the commodfication of children,because capitalism has to go somewhere, and the desire of young girls to dress beyond their years is no mystery. If they are raised by women who spend inordinate amounts of time and money on their appearance, what else are girls going to want? It doesn’t seem like rocket science to me.


          • Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

            In the public stoush the value adding of children has become a tug of war between the capitalist commodifiers and the self righteous moralisers.This ‘conservative’ classification of children is another type of commodfication, anyway.Children and young adults are made to look like victims before they ever become one.
            Look at the exposure of some of the alleged ‘fear tactics’ at the (now stifled) Bravehearts debate.
            (The Silence of The Ma’ms)

            Neither commodification scenario augers well for the most important people here.
            The children/young adults.
            Young minds need freedom and guidance in a healthy ratio, and even exposure to peer groups like and not like, or the rebellion just goes underground.At some point in time they must experience choice and even endure failure.This does NOT mean exposing them to harm.
            This is why the internet filter is another high priority for the moralistas.
            They don’t want the kids getting a second opinion from ANYWHERE!
            And they know that the net provides free and variable information exposing the toxicity of some right wing agendas.Such crusaders would slip right into the Chinese censorship style.
            Parents need to parent their own children.This is a big enough job on it’s own.

            You can easily see, where the term ‘mind your own business’ recolours itself,in this Child Industry ‘commodification’ debate.


          • hudsongodfrey April 1, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

            Mark Twain may have been mis-attributed the quote but it is still a good one…
            “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”

            As for marketing to children, in a choice better arguing that the financial imperative stops when people stop supplying it or for arbitrary regulation the former is always preferable. But I agree that it is a financial imperative that people are quite right to want to set limits upon. And by that I mean I would defend people’s where people overwhelmingly object not to be confronted with unsolicited offence especially where it is just offence for its own sake. But we can’t set the threshold at one persons’ arbitrarily applied judgement lest the one person turn out to be either MTR or George Pell.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

      I though it was fine for Dannielle’s foundation to withdraw their money from the Alliance event as a protest if they felt strongly enough. That’s the way to protest, not to attempt to silence. Those trying to silence don’t see that in a different climate, they might be silenced.


      • Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

        Just curious JW,
        have you read or can you point me to where we could read the Jenny Craig response to DMs complaint to the conference organisers?

        Maybe I missed it.
        What I did find was a whole lot of opinion (here and a whole lot of statistics and numbers not all of which came from what I would call ‘independent sources.

        There is also a back handed threat by way of asking :,
        “As I initially expressed concern about the committee’s selection of Amy Smith *(BEFORE CONTACTING THE CONFERENCE ORGANISERS)* in the public forums of Facebook and Twitter, I wholeheartedly extend to you the opportunity to respond in the same forums. If you would like me to publish your response on Facebook or Twitter, please do let me know.”

        {In other words we will publish what you say,or your refusal to want to use those mediums anyway.You will be judged either way.} is the 2 way bullying tactic in use.
        Talk about hypocrisy.

        Lesson for children.
        Throw a tantrum first,it saves time.


        • Jennifer Wilson April 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

          I wondered why the response wasn’t published on Danielle’s website. I don’t know where else it would be as it was addressed to her. Maybe have another look at Dannielle’s links and see if I missed it.


    • hudsongodfrey April 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

      When it comes to wowsers, someone on unleashed in the old days, you know before the rot set in, once gave me this poem…

      Wow, Sir!
      The wowser is a mean pervert,
      He has an evil eye.
      He keeps his brain pan full of dirt
      and murmurs: “Let us pry.”
      Bartlett Adamson, 1935


      • Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

        2 from Bartlett Adamson 1884-1951

        “The Film Censor”

        The Censor simply gives me fits
        An envied man is he
        He sees the naughty movie bits
        That I would like to see

        The wonderment of love’s high creed
        Has been, since human time began
        Degraded equally indeed
        By prostitute and puritan.

        Back to here and now.
        Can you see all the prudists in their ‘porn research’, taking studious notes on various porn, and then racing home to get the lot via Paypal as treat for their other half,all the while not breathing a word of it to their conservative censorial besties.
        Free ‘toy’, with the first 500 orders!
        The earth groans.


  14. Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Some other viewpoints about the petition here.


  15. Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    JW , I have a critique of “Enlighten Education” letter to the Alliance (AGSC) and want to quote their letter here in full and my counter comments.(Which are not that lengthy.)
    is there a limit to word number/comment size?


  16. Doug Quixote April 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    “In 1899 a neologism would soon enter the Australian lexicon in the years leading up to the first World War, the “wowser” .

    It was coined in reference to the puritanical morals crusader (sic) increasingly infecting every corner of Australian society with a stern christian sense of decency and moral purity the latter focused exclusively and pathologically on matters of sex to the exclusion of all else.”

    See : Robert Cettl “Offensive to a Reasonable Adult”

    John Norton wrote : “I invented the word myself. I was the first man publicly to use the word. I first gave it public utterance in the City Council, when I applied it to Alderman G.J. Waterhouse, whom I referred to as the white, woolly, weary, watery, word-wasting wowser from Waverley”.

    “We Only Want Social Evils Remedied” was apparently a slogan of the Australian Temperance Movement, and is claimed by some as a ‘backronym’

    What a wonderful neologism it was!


  17. Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    *Constant dieting can *1cause “an obsession with weight and an increased likelihood of developing an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia”, according to research presented at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy conference in 2011. In the words of respected Australian eating disorder expert Lydia Jade Turner, the Managing Director of BodyMatters Australia, “Dieting is the biggest pathway into an eating disorder.” *Research cited by the Butterfly Foundation *2 notes that adolescent girls who diet at a severe level are “18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder within 6 months” and “over 12 months they have a 1 in 5 chance of developing an eating disorder.”
    The rates of eating disorders and poor body image in girls *are alarming*. 3 Research published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that “disordered eating is emerging as a norm in Australian society with 90% of 12–17 year old girls and 68% of 12–17 year old boys *having been on a diet of some type”* 4 ( A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2009 found that between July 2002 and June 2005, *101 children aged from five to 13 years old were newly diagnosed with an eating disorder.* 5

    According to the 2011 *Mission Australia* 6Youth Survey, body image is one of the top three issues of personal concern for young people in Australia. Poor body image has been identified as such an important problem that it was the subject of a parliamentary inquiry.

    *Looking beyond the research*, 7 Enlighten Education works with 20,000 girls each year around Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. I speak to girls, and most importantly listen to them, about body image. On a daily basis, I meet girls who physically, psychologically and emotionally are paying a high price for dieting and for their body anxiety, which is all too often spurred on by advertisers and marketers from, amongst other industries, the dieting industry.

    The sad fact is that diet companies continue to play on girls’ and women’s body anxiety to sell a *product that doesn’t even work*. 8 Ninety percent of people who go on a diet will lose less than 10 per cent of their body weight and be back where they started, or heavier, in five years, according to research presented first at the Australian New Zealand Obesity Society in 2009 and again in 2010 at the International Obesity Summit. “In fact, weight tells us very little about a person’s health except at statistical extremes,” *says Lydia Jade Turner.* 9 “Although it is commonly assumed that being ‘overweight’ is automatically unhealthy, in *North America research* 10 shows that the overweight category (BMI = 25 to 29) is now outliving every other weight category.”

    I am generally an enthusiastic supporter of the Alliance conference, and I feel that all of the other speakers the committee has selected are brilliant choices. I will attend the conference, as always, and Enlighten Education will have a stand, but it is with regret that I must tell you that Enlighten Education will not be sponsoring the conference this year, as we have in the past.

    *Enlighten Education was recognised in 2011 as Finalists for a Human Rights Award by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission for our work at furthering the wellbeing of girls.* 11In light of that, and for all the schools and the girls that we work with, I feel that it is important that Enlighten Education acts according to our principles—and that means that we cannot sponsor an event where there is an association with the dieting industry.

    On an individual level, as a parent whose daughter attends an Alliance school, I also wish to register my dismay at the choice of Amy Smith as a speaker.

    Please know that I write this from genuine concern about the message that having a speaker associated with the dieting industry sends to the educators of girls. It is not a reflection on Amy Smith herself, and certainly not on the committee, whom I hold in great esteem.
    The words between the asterisks*, are those commented on. They are followed by a number which corresponds with my comments as below.
    (Rebuttal not placed at “Enlighten” because Danielle considers my curiosity Trolling.)
    Also I could not find the Alliances response which I thought was strange.if it’s there,it’s not obvious, where. If it is not there, where is the balance?
    There was ample opportunity to question other statements made in this letter, but frankly the unfounded assertions wore me out.

    1, “Can” cause not “does” cause. A very big difference. Quoted ‘way’ out of context.

    2, Please name and link the Research you cited.

    3, No your language is alarming. It is deliberately using fear words.

    4, Is ‘disordered eating only under eating or dieting, or does it include over eating? You don’t say.

    5, 101 is a very low number. Over eating is also a disorder leading to obesity in some cases.
    How many of the 101 are over eating issues?

    6, Whilst I won’t analyse the relevance of or independence of Mission Australia, I will question once again whether eating disorders in the case is ONLY under eating. It seems this is the direction most of these figures are being pushed.

    7, You have not even looked INTO the research and then you want to move beyond it.

    8, A Blanket statement, with no data or links to sustain the claim.

    9, LJ Turner has a vested interest in making such claims. She is certainly not independent and her claims are not independently substantiated, either. They are opinions of a fiscal stakeholder
    The medical knowledge of the effects of obesity, and the health implications are well known. It is irresponsible to claim otherwise.
    Overweight is NEVER healthy. Never.

    10, What North America research? Links please.

    11, It’s fine to amplify your credibility, but if the evidence supporting that nomination, is as scant as what you presented to the Alliance in this letter, if Jenny Craig were also nominated she would likely have beaten you.

    Is this the Honda stuff, Dannielle gives the nod? When she says:
    If Ms Smith still worked at Honda, I would be the first to roll out the red carpet for her.


    • Hypocritophobe April 1, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

      Looks like Garrett is on-board and Australian Womens Weekly are in favour with Dannielle.Which means of course by the non-campaign against each and every page of said publication,AWW must be as close to God Like as a Womens Publication can get.

      “The Assessment and Advisory Panel, chaired by The Australian Women’s Weekly Editor-in-Chief, Helen McCabe, will assess the nominations and recommend finalists and award recipients.”
      If Big Diet and Diet Inc, advertise in AWW
      unless Dannielle boycotts these awards, I hereby call Dannielle out, as a failed advocate for women and girls, or a blatant hypocrite.

      And by association should also be condemning commercial TV stations who advertise Womens Weekly too.

      The can-o-worms is well and truly open.

      Oh what a tangled web we weave…………………………..

      Sorry Pete,but your award just got shot down by it’s star attraction.


    • Doug Quixote April 1, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

      Thank you Hypo.

      I always like to go to the sources quoted to see whether they in fact say what they are quoted to say.

      The article by Patton Carlin Shao and others in the Journal of Child Psychology :

      “Dieting in adolescent girls is ubiquitous but its health significance is uncertain. On the one hand it might be seen as promoting healthy weight control and on the other it might be considered as a risk, factor for eating disorders. Dieting levels were systematically assessed in a representative group of 252? Australian teenagers and classified using item response theory. In this group, 38% of girls and 12 % of boys were categorised as intermediate dieters; 7% of girls and 1% of boys fell into a group of extreme dieters. Body mass carried a strong post the association with intermediate dieting. Most female dieters, nevertheless, fell within a normal weight range. Psychiatric morbidity was the clearest factor associated with extreme dieting and 62 % of extreme dieters reported high levels of depression and anxiety. Extreme dieting might reasonably be viewed as lying on a spectrum with clinical eating disorders. Most dieting is unjustified on the grounds of appropriate weight control and appears to reflect a widespread striving of teenage girls towards body shapes at the lower end of age-adjusted norms.”

      Not quite what the attribution claims, is it?

      Near your note 2, “adolescent girls who diet at a severe level” are the critical words – is it not already begging the question? And hardly surprising that girls already dieting at a ‘severe level’ are at greater risk of developing a disorder.

      Note 5 : 101 cases over 3 years?

      I think they may have their knickers in a knot unnecessarily large and complex.


      • Hypocritophobe April 2, 2012 at 12:00 am #

        Thanks DQ,
        To put the numbers into perspective,and to quantify what this ‘panic button’ represents, and what Garrett is manning an ‘army of Advocates’ to save our children from is the following:

        The total group analysed,numbered 252
        Of these, 95 girls and 30 boys were classified as ‘intermediate dieters’ whatever that ‘death sentence’ means.

        The ‘more serious side of the studies numbers are classified as extreme dieters.
        In this category of ‘extreme’ , 18 cases were girls and 3 were boys.
        ( we have no data given as to whether they lived or died,came good or suicided.We are left to imagine.That adds more power to the ‘advocates’ cause)

        Of the 21 ‘extreme’ cases 11 girls and LESS than 2 boys reported high levels of depression and anxiety.Far too many but…
        * * * * *
        Finally that OTHER number.
        101 cases over 5 years does speak for itself,but I smell a stretch there,too.In any case 20 cases a year is not an epidemic, as the hype would have us believe?

        How anyone can build an argument,let alone an industry around that data is something a good investigative journalist should/would/could ask.

        Dannielle should clearly consider herself lucky, she lives in Australia.Because we appear to have none of the above ‘journalist types’ available at this time.


        • Jennifer Wilson April 2, 2012 at 6:38 am #

          Hypo I think I’ve made all the editorial changes you requested but you’d better check.


          • Hypocritophobe April 2, 2012 at 10:01 am #

            Much neater.
            Thanks JW


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