Girl Scout cookie season is upon us, and young saleswomen in uniform are everywhere: holding court in office boardrooms for an afternoon, manning booths outside the local grocery store, or posting cheery video messages on social media, offering door-to-door shipping. You may even have a Girl Scout under your own roof, filling your garage with cases of the chocolatey, caramelly, peanut-buttery goods.
But Girl Scouts, and the women who lead their troops and volunteer with them during cookie season, say that the organization’s tradition of face-to-face sales is increasingly accompanied by customer harassment.
From 5-year-old Daisies to 16-year-old Senior Scouts, girls are often forced to bear the brunt of angry tirades from adults who want to lecture them about healthy eating, moan about price hikes, or rant about the group’s rumored (and false) link to Planned Parenthood.
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.
“I feel like in the last 10 years, and maybe especially since the pandemic, that people are getting even more aggressive with girls and the volunteers,” Oona Hanson, a Scouting parent in Los Angeles, said.
Comments about weight and diets ‘can really destroy their self-esteem’
In interviews with Scouts, Scout leaders, and parents, no form of cookie-related harassment appears to be more pervasive than that related to the healthfulness — or lack thereof — of the product.
Hanson, who works as a parent coach and family mentor at an eating-disorder-treatment center, has volunteered with her daughter’s troop at local cookie booths. She said she’s seen passersby make comments about weight gain, tell girls they can’t trust themselves to have Thin Mints in the house, or even yell at girls for “poisoning” people.