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It's almost impossible to imagine now, we know, but there once was a time when cultural lynchpins Blair Waldorf and Serena Van der Woodsen existed only in the pages of YA novels, and as such their corrupting influence of superficiality, decadence and greed was limited to young girls (and a few girlish boys), rather than an across-the-board, if small, section of the TV-viewing public. But will the supposed literary antithesis to the Gossip Girl books make it to primetime? Let's hope not.

The new Beacon Street Girls series is created by "leading experts in adolescent development, with the goal of helping girls build self-esteem and coping skills." It certainly sounds like a far cry from concocting devilish sexual schemes over cocktails at the Palace, even more so when you hear that the series was used by Duke University medical researchers studying childhood obesity. They found that girls who read a Beacon Street Girls novel about a bullied fat girl who overcomes all her issues lost weight! So, reading these books doesn't so much promote health and self esteem as help tween girls stay skinny? We think Blair would approve after all.

Healthful Messages, Wrapped In Fiction [NYT]