Nicole Romanella O’Neal accompanied her six-year-old daughter, Penelope, to her “kickoff” training before the cookie-selling season. The San Diego-based duo practiced everything from knocking on doors to smart safety decisions. While most of the coaching proved to be helpful for the young Daisy Scout, O’Neal was distraught after hearing one cookie-selling speech set, she revealed in an Instagram post.
The mom-of-two approached a booth with her daughter at the training, where older girls were roleplaying different types of customers they were likely to encounter, including one they dubbed “The Healthy Indulgence.”
O’Neal was shocked by how girls were taught to respond to a diet-focused individual. According to the instruction from the leader of the presentation, any Girl Scout who comes across a similar customer should offer them cookie options that don’t have artificial sweeteners.
O’Neal told Today: “I blacked out. I was fuming.”
Though entirely concerned and upset over the lesson, she didn’t say anything to anyone, especially not Penelope. O’Neal waited until they were home to air out her frustrations online. She took to Instagram, listing the instructions regarding customers who admit concern over their weight.
“I opened my phone. I typed out what I was seeing in the note section of my phone, and I posted it to Instagram,” she said to the outlet.
O’Neal detailed what customers shouldn’t say when they’re approached by a Girl Scout. In her opinion, no one should mention dieting, calories, and body flaws. What’s more, the protective mom noted that they shouldn’t explain why they’re not buying cookies if it is about their weight, and people shouldn’t ask which options are the healthy ones.
“Please spread this message and share this post. Our girls, are simply trying to sell you cookies. They shouldn’t worry about the calories of the cookies, the diet the person they’re selling to is on, or the body flaw that’s causing a person not to purchase,” O’Neal’s caption read. “Diet and body shame is learned. Please please be aware of this when you’re approached. A simple no thank you, is completely acceptable. In fact, it’s perfect.”
Viewers contemplated whether O’Neal’s advice was valid. Some thought her message was important for the sake of the young girls. However, others felt that lying and withholding their truth was detrimental.
A passionate person added: “If Girl Scouts are going to set up shop outside every grocery store and Walmart in the country and ask people to buy cookies, then they are going to have to deal with all kinds of people. That includes those who are making healthier choices than cookies!”
One supporter wrote: “YES! From a former Girl Scout leader trying to teach these young ladies anti-diet culture!!”
“I could understand a few of these responses but I can’t have cookies that aren’t gluten free, so I might ask if they’re gluten free or to see an ingredient label to see if I can buy them at all,” a candid individual commented.
Despite the opinions of O’Neal’s followers, it seems as though the Girl Scout organisation agrees with her. Two weeks ago, the official Girl Scout Instagram posted their set of guidelines for anyone approached by one of their troop leaders selling cookies. They urged people to refrain from “skinny” or “diet talk,” and to “recognise the cycle of body drama.”
“Little messages affirm and shape who we are when it comes to body image. I am uber aware of the way I talk and interact with food in front of my daughter,” O’Neal remarked.
“My plan is to step in and say that all the cookies are a great choice. I’ll redirect the conversation and add in appropriate messaging that all food is healthy because it gives us energy,” she continued, adding how she’ll now be traveling from location to location with Penelope for her sales.
The Independent has contacted the Girl Scout organisation and O’Neal for comments.