Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Thursday, 20 August 2015

Fat-Altering Facebook Group Is ‘Mindless’ Says Eating Disorder Charity

Project Harpoon Is ‘Mindless’ Says Eating Disorder Charity

The Debrief: Project Harpoon is the sad result of too many monkeys with too many Photoshops…

UPDATE: Hayat Rachi, CEO of Neon Moon, a lingerie company that makes items for women of all body shapes, using un-Photoshopped images to promote their wares, has this to say after a model of theirs was edited on Project Harpoon: 'I am shocked at the blatant use of photoshop by Project Harpoon to fat shame women. The sheer fact that their name refers to fat women as whales is a clear sign of hate speech and body shaming, and nothing to do with caring about health. Project Harpoon supporters have criticised Neon Moon for 'promoting obesity' and therefore chose to photoshop our underwear model, which as a brand, is against our values as we never retouch our models.'

'I was utterly disappointed to find a photo of our model photoshopped unrealistically thin without any permission granted. A person's health cannot be determined from how a person looks. Their sole purpose is to harass women, and nothing more. They are disgusting.'

What is Project Harpoon

A team of fat-shaming vigilantes have made it their mission to change women’s bodies by altering images of plus-sized and overweight people online, without their knowledge or consent.

Project Harpoon, a Facebook group with its roots on a Reddit threat, has more than 8,000 ‘likes’, and it’s where an anonymous user shares before and after images. The befores are plus-sized models and overweight people, the afters are skinnier versions of the models – who are mostly women – made using image editing software and a hell of a lot of spare time.

While the page’s ‘About’ section diplomatically reads: ‘A collaborative art project open to interpretation. #InnerBeauty #ThinnerBeauty #SkinnyAcceptance’, its morals are clear. First of all, the #SkinnyAcceptance hashtag makes it seem as if the group is standing up for victimised slim women, but plus-sized models don’t exist to shame skinny women, they’re simply there to celebrate bigger women in the way skinnier women have been lauded for decades.

Fat-Altering Facebook Group Is ‘Mindless’ Says Eating Disorder Charity

And the comments under the images confirm that this site is anything but caring for the women being edited: ‘i am afraid that nothing can help here but good ol’ napalm’ and ‘side from the witless look on her face she’s wonderful’ and ‘The fact that you used a black woman will make feminist tears flow even more. xD’.

Under the shoddy guise of a friendly, caring encouragement for women to become happier and healthier, here’s a bunch of people calling out women for the way they look.

Eating disorder charity Beat gave this statement to The Debrief: ‘Those who manipulate these images are contributing to a superficial attitude that currently permeates throughout society and should think very carefully of the consequences of their actions.

‘Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses affecting one in 85 men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and one in 5 of those most seriously affected will die prematurely.

‘The illnesses can be triggered by many factors – not just by low self esteem or body image issues. We know that undoubtedly young people especially can be influenced by unreal images and feel it is their fault that, in their eyes, their bodies compare so unfavourably.’

Fat-Altering Facebook Group Is ‘Mindless’ Says Eating Disorder Charity

It continues: ‘We know the difference it would make for everyone if they were left to celebrate who they are and not continually comparing and seeking to achieve what is often the unattainable.’

The group has now re-located to another Facebook page called Operation Harpoon, where its organiser promises to post ‘tri-hourly’. From the looks of it, the page moved so as to avoid people who joined to defend those being edited, as they were commenting stuff like: ‘It has nothing to do with feminism. I hope all of you weigh 140 lbs and have 6 pack’ and ‘You are bullying all the girls in these photos and it’s wrong!!!!!! Go fuck yourself!’

The old theory goes that if you give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, eventually one of them will write the entire works of Shakespeare. And in this world of image-led media, where anyone can access image-editing software to use for bad or good, it’s easy to wonder exactly what sort of humans are behind this sort of bodyshaming and what could feasibly happen if they actually used their skills for real and tangible good.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

Stranger-Shaming. How Being A Woman Eating On The Tube Got Me 12,000 Haters

Sick Of Size Zero? This Plus-Size Model Has An Idea For Change

The Reality Of Being A So-Called Plus-Sized Model

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: FFS News, Going viral, Eating Disorders, Body worries