I’m not usually one to go firing off letters to the editor when I read something that I don’t agree with. In fact, I usually keep my opinions on public affairs relatively private. I don’t feel as though I need to defend my opinions and beliefs to anyone other than myself and, really, I don’t know that one voice makes much of a difference anyway. Today I’m hoping that it does.
I’m not sure why Marie Claire’s recent article on food bloggers upset me so much other than it seemed so unnecessarily hurtful. And while I may not take the time to defend my own beliefs to the masses, I will make the effort to stand up for six young bloggers who’s “Herculean” efforts to live healthier lives were the brunt of such misdirected criticism. For those that haven’t seen it yet, you can find the article here.
I’m writing in response to The Hunger Diaries: Six popular bloggers advocate healthy living, but are they putting readers (and themselves) at risk? I was dismayed at your magazine’s one-sided report that so negatively stereotypes “healthy living blogs”. The concern of an upward swing in disordered eating as a result of food and exercise blogs may be a legitimate one, but to paint these blogs and their authors in such a negative light—to outright lie to your readers—is simply wrong.
The young girls in the six blogs you cited are portraying characteristics of self-worth that should be emulated, not shunned. The enormous feats they have accomplished in an effort to raise awareness—the Healthy Living Summit for example—are successes that should be celebrated. Their passion, their drive, their honesty are all traits that ought to be encouraged in women today. I found your magazine’s judgments largely invalid, unwarranted and downright cruel. Katie Drummond knowingly took statements out of context and twisted facts to suit her story’s angle. She blatantly lied to her sources when asked about the direction she was taking her story, telling them that she was writing an article to impart the positives of the blogging community—a statement that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
To place blame on these bloggers (any bloggers!) for the small handful of readers who might use posts as fodder for their own unhealthy habits is not only poor reporting, but it’s missing the point entirely. I would be interested in an article that addressed disordered eating as it relates to the blog world, if it were well-researched and unbiased. Where were the accounts from the disordered eaters—the readers that you say are at such great risk? Where were the testimonials from the thousands of readers like myself who overcame unhealthy habits to live a more fit and wholesome life?
Reading blogs like the ones you discredited in your article taught me to think of food in an entirely different— and far healthier—manner. For the first time in my adult life, I am at a healthy weight with a BMI well within the normal range. Instead of engaging in fad diets, binges and purges, or calorie counting, I simply strive to enjoy foods in moderation—all foods. The girls that you humiliated are part of a community that inspired me to push myself physically, and motivated me to register and train for my first marathon.
In the last year, my training has proved be a greater asset to my emotional development than my physical one, a tremendous benefit that has carried over into so many other aspects of my life. I am a stronger runner, yes, but I am also more confident in myself and my abilities. When I finished a 22 mile run two weeks ago, I felt like I could succeed at anything. These blogs are inspiring and rewarding to so many people and I’m saddened that you would print an article that would essentially deny other women from discovering their worth.
When I finish my first marathon a week from today, I know who I will be thanking for my success—a community of smart, positive, encouraging writers who will have more than earned my gratitude and recognition.
This is of course, only my opinion. The authors of the blogs cited in Marie Claire’s article have all responded to the article. You can read the reactioms of Meghann, Heather, Tina, Kath, Jenna, and Caitlin on their sites and hear their side of the story.