Strange artifical food, the hunger diaries and outrage

I’ve been reading the controversy that has been raised by this Maire Claire article.

And I am afire with opinions. Well. Not literally but I am not surprised that quite a few people are up in arms about it. In a nutshell, for those who can’t be bothered to read the article, this journalist spent a few months with a number of so called Healthy Living bloggers and then pretty much accused them all of disordered eating and being obsessed with food. They believe that they are really healthy and eat excellently. They are also outraged that this woman was a friend and was so approving of them in person but then slandered them in this way.

I guess my opinions on this are a little on the edge.

1. Journalists have reputations for reasons and should always be treated carefully. It may not be the journalist who writes something you may not approve of or that is not strictly true but editors have their own agendas and know what articles sell magazines and sometimes articles are changed beyond what the journalist would have written.

2. Blogging gives you a very distorted view of people. As a general rule, bloggers are more exciting and well rounded than their blogs would necessarily portray. Blogs are usually only one facet of a bloggers life and are generally around a special interest. This can definitely portray the illusion that these women are only interested in exercise and depriving themselves of food.

3. Where does the line between bloggers only writing to a certain standard and people using their own common sense fall? That’s dreadful english but do bloggers have a duty of care to their readers to write sensibly and recommend sensible courses of actions? Or should it be up to the reader to determine what’s right and what actions they should take? I fall to the line about personal responsibility and believe it is up to the reader to decide what they should do. I wouldn’t blindly follow someone else’s diet recommendations without understanding how it’s applicable to me.

4. Even on the blogs which promote raw natural food, I still see a lot of strange looking things. Even things like Nakd and Trek and Eat Natural bars (all of which I do like) seem a little artificial to me. It’s processed food no matter how you look at it and I’m still not sure whether it’s good for you or not? It’s like the question over protein powder – I do have it sometimes, I like it and it really helps me stop with the continual HUNGER but the artificial flavours and sweeteners put me off massively.Is it better to have those if it’s helping you to lose weight and be healthier in other regards?

5. Are blogs there to be criticised? We have critics for books, films, websites and other media – should blogs be part of the critical mass? Perhaps it is slightly different to other media as blogs are a personal story and are more of an online journal than anything? The way that bloggers build up friendships with other bloggers also perhaps limits the critical exposure. Is the most criticism a falling stat counter?

I’ll be back. I have more.

3 thoughts on “Strange artifical food, the hunger diaries and outrage

  1. Eeh, that were right intresting. I went and read the MC article and one of the bloggers’ response, including a couple of posts referenced, so I feel qualified to comment now! *swells with importance*

    I basically agree with your points 1 and 2. 3, 4 and 5 raise good questions. First I thought blogs absolutely don’t have a ‘duty of care’ to anyone – they are obviously opinion and who but a fool takes unsubstantiated Stuff On The Internet at face value? But I am putting more and more qualifications on this as I think it through – with food/health blogs, chances are a lot of your audience will be young girls, and perhaps there is a responsibility there.

    But then again, maybe I only think there is a responsibility precisely because of melodramatic think-of-the-children articles like this, where lurid consequences are attributed or implied by precisely the kind of circulation-hungry sensationalism that this article displays.

    In the end, w/r/to this article, all I can say is that I took on board some fairly heavy hints that these bloggers were promoting some quite unhealthy attitudes, which hints weren’t borne out at all by the reasoned discussion of the related subjects in the original posts. My conclusion is that MC were over-dramatising and looking for an angle, a phenomenon that sadly seem more and more prevalent as the print media get more and more spooked.

    As for question 3, the blogs I read are teh awesome, written by feminists of very large brain, and only recommend entirely sensible courses of action like calling out asshattery wherever we see it. They have improved my life immeasurably, although I’m not sure Dan would see it that way.


    * Although really, what did you expect!? 🙂

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