The Pink Patch: Does Your Daughter Think She Looks Bad in Her Body?

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When I first heard about the Pink Patch, I thought it was stupid but probably harmless. That speaks volumes to my current state of mental health, though – I was transported back to my less-healthy days as I started poking around for more facts. The fact that I found a reference to the Pink Patch on a pro-ana (for the uneducated, that’s pro-anorexia) message board is enough to make my blood run cold. I suffered from anorexia starting at age 17 until I was around 20, and if this little patch had been around when I was hiding Dexatrim under my pillows, you can bet your chewing-gum dinners I would’ve used it.

The Pink Patch seems to be very targeted toward girls as opposed to women or men. (I almost forgot to type “men,” which makes me sad, as this is clearly a female topic, and why it’s a female topic is another post in and of itself). The targeted teenage demographic does seem to be the main issue for the blogosphere. Well, that and its sketchy medical claims. One blogger writes:

The Pink Patch’s approach is to pick and choose bits of information about various ingredients and slap them together to entice young girls into trying their product. 5-HTP for example, has been studied clinically and does have some evidence it can help with mood elevation. But studies showing a link to weight loss are mixed. And The Pink Patch conveniently fails to mention side effects, like nausea. But perhaps most importantly, all the studies cited in the literature were based on relatively high dosages (100 to 300 mg per day). The Pink Patch gives no information on the dosage of their ingredients so it’s impossible to tell if they are using very low and ineffective levels, or very high and potentially dangerous levels. For more information read this review of 5-HTP from Vanderbilt University.

As adults, we know to ask these questions: How does it work? Has there been research to validate its claims? Is it dangerous? But girls? This blogger questions their judgment:

When I see this page 'WARNING' flashes in multi colored lights behind my eyes, but sadly I'm sure it doesn't do that for everyone. The site is appealing to the lowest common denominator, kids who are so scared about their looks and figure that they will try anything, so I'm sure this has plenty takers. For those doubters out there I'll say 'SAVE YOUR MONEY'. There is no such thing as a miracle cure and anything which pretends to be that is taking money of innocent vulnerable people and SHOULD BE SHOT. The end.

Not only are women questioning the judgment of girls, but also of society at large. What the hell are we doing creating and marketing these self-esteem-destroying products to girls?

Perhaps if we projected a more positive example of a female role model to little girls, stopped throwing those horrendous Bratz dolls at them and started taking note of this alarming trend, I wouldn’t feel so disgusted by a “pink patch”. But I do. It's horrid and it's nasty and I seriously can't believe we even wnoder why we have young girls with eating disorders and who simply aspire to be "WAGs".

The good news (if there can be good news) is that we parents, especially mothers, don’t have to take this lying down. As the primary examples and opinion leaders for our children, our words can be more influencing than a pink, flashing ad. Or so we hope:

Parents, talk to your daughters about the uselessness (and possible risks) of the Pink Patch. You might want to read the ads with them and point out how they are preying on women's body-image issues.

Unless you are one of those parents who would use the Pink Patch yourself.

One MySpace-using mom tried her own offense. She bought an ad targeted at the Pink Patch demographic telling girls to love their bodies instead of attaching little pink Post-Its to them in an effort to look like Victoria Beckham.

I bought an ad:

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love body ad

Another MySpace mom suggests this method (go to her page for links):

If you already belong to My Space, go to Tom's page (Tom is the founder of My Space, and that's his page up there). Send Tom a message telling him what you think about the Pick Patch ads. Tell him it's wrong to advertise unregulated diet medication to adolescents.

If you don't belong to My Space, it's easy enough to join. Tom will be your first friend. Then go to his page and message him.

As much as I’d like to say turn your anger on the Pink Patch, turn your anger on MySpace, they are just symptoms of a larger cultural problem. The same problem that had me eating 400 calories a day at 17 has me staring at my butt when I try on bikinis, hating the way it looks at 34. We’re making small strides in our youth-obsessed culture with things like Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty and BlogHer’s Letter to My Body movement, but we have to start at the beginning. We have to start with our kids. As much as we want to look good through diet and exercise, we have to model healthy diet and exercise for our daughters. It’s not bad to want to look good, but I do think it’s helpful to be realistic about what looking good means, especially when we notice our daughters staring at their butts in bikinis and frowning.

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