Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Hunger Diaries

The foodie blogger world absolutely EXPLODED this past week after Marie Claire posted an article called "The Hunger Diaries: How Health Writers Could Be Putting You at Risk. (Six popular bloggers advocate healthier living, but are they putting readers - and themselves - in danger?)"

The article profiles "The Big 6"; writers of food and fitness blogs who have amassed thousands and thousands of daily followers. They are being torn apart for portraying unhealthy eating and exercise habits through their blogs and convincing their followers that these behaviors are healthy. The article's numerous consulted professionals state that although no diagnoses can be made based on the blog alone, these women are all at risk for eating disorders based on what they have written about their diets, body weight and health practices, and that their behaviors are being mimicked by die-hard fans and as a result, their followers are becoming injured or developing eating disorders.

Only one of the Big 6 is a registered dietitian and the rest simply have day jobs with blogs on the side. We have been cautioned since the invention of the internet not to trust everything we read online. Particularly with the current popularity of blogs, any one who has access to the internet (which is almost everyone on the planet these days) can go online and write whatever they want about any topic they desire. Why is it that we are treating these 6 blogs any differently? I can understand the outrage; these women are portraying themselves as experts on a particular topic despite perhaps not giving out the best advice. I haven't actually read their blogs, so I can't really formulate an honest opinion at this point, but I feel like the actual content of their blogs is completely irrelevant. Why are these six women being singled out when there are millions of websites and blogs that misrepresent a topic or encourage unhealthy behaviors? Why not pick on the pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia blogs to pick on?

Most people won't go out and try everything they see on YouTube or believe everything they read on Wikipedia, nor would either of these websites be harassed if someone did. I think it is the reader's responsibility to sift through the content they stumble across on the web and make informed decisions about what they read. I know many people don't, but the blog writer can't control what people do or say after reading what they have written. I don't think it was fair that these 6 women were singled out.

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