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This Shouldn’t Need To Be Said but Please Don’t Harass Girl Scout Cookie Sellers Over Your Own Food Issues

A single Samoa/Caramel DeLite Girl Scout cookie on a table

It’s Girl Scout cookie season and you know what that means! Well, actually maybe you don’t. Because while for most of us, the obvious answer is “delicious cookies,” some people are apparently choosing to believe the reason for the season is a chance to aggressively shame and harass children.

According to a report from Insider, “A recent post about cookie-seller harassment in a popular Facebook parenting group netted more than 100 replies, with dozens of stories from troop leaders and other adult volunteers about what their Scouts endured.”

A recent tweet about the issue from a scout parent garnered a similar response.

“Please do not make comments about weight gain or joke that you can’t have Thin Mints in the house or talk about your low-carb diet or yell at the girls for ‘poisoning’ people,” wrote Oona Miller Hanson, noting that these were “actual things said to elementary school girls.”

This really should not need to be said but DO NOT DO THIS. If someone doesn’t want to consume sugar or even if they think sugar is a danger to humanity, fine. But don’t take it out on children. That’s the equivalent of berating a grocery store clerk over their conglomerate corporation’s business practices except it’s worse because in this case, that clerk would have to be an actual child.

Telling a child selling cookies that they’re peddling poison is absolutely not a thing anyone should do. But even the more seemingly innocuous stories of people responding to kids’ sales pitches for cookies with comments about their own diets and fear of weight gain can also be really harmful to young people, especially young girls. It may not seem like a one-off comment about needing to be on a diet would affect a girl’s self-esteem, but that’s a big and likely wrong assumption to make.

Hanson—who, in addition to having a child in the scouts, works as a parent coach and family mentor at an eating-disorder-treatment center—told Insider: “When you’re standing at a cookie booth for an hour- or two-hour shift, or you’re delivering cookies to someone’s house, the accumulation of seemingly harmless jokes really adds up,” adding that “The most aggressive comments were about sugar, and really frightening the girls about things like diabetes or other health conditions.”

Another parent said she was supervising a troop of nine and ten-year-old scouts a few years ago when one “looked at the girls and just responded, ‘Cookies make you fat.’ And walked away.”

In addition to the sugar and diet comments, some people have also reportedly been confronting these young girl scouts with accusations that they’re shills for Planned Parenthood—a conspiracy theory that has been fully debunked for at least a decade.

And even if there were any merit to the idea that the national Girl Scout organization supports Planned Parenthood, either financially or otherwise (which, again, there isn’t), harassing a seven-year-old about it still wouldn’t be an acceptable way to discuss that issue.

These sorts of encounters can have a profoundly damaging effect on these girls, who are just forming their ideas about the world and their place in it.

From Insider:

“Girls naturally deselect from doing booths and sell in spaces where they feel safe,” [scout parent Melissa Atkins] Wardy, who works in child advocacy in El Paso, said. 

“It’s hard when you’re a parent to transition your tween, teen daughter from being this force of nature who’s going to take over the world to understanding that you’re going to do that while you’re also being sexualized, harassed, and belittled, and called a bitch.”

If you see Girl Scouts selling cookies, hopefully you’ll buy some cookies, both to support the scouts and also because cookies are delicious and you deserve them. But if you don’t want cookies, that’s not an opportunity to talk to those kids about diets or abortion or anything else, really. A simple “no thank you” is fine and then move on.

(via: Insider, image: Photo credit: supersultrywahine on VisualHunt)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.