Terrible Trend – Private Message Diet Spam

pm-diet-spamI’ve been hearing more and more about a disturbing trend of people marketing their weight loss products through private message on social media.  It’s been happening for a while, but based on the number of e-mails I get about it it’s gaining a lot of traction.  Today Marjorie posted an example on my FB wall. In some cases a person joins a fat positive group and then starts private messaging people. In others they just look for fat people’s profiles and then spam them.

Let’s start with what should be blatantly obvious: This is disgusting.  This is harassment. This is objectively terrible. This should never, ever, happen.  While people who are the victims of this are allowed to handle it in whatever way they prefer, nobody is obligated to tolerate this in any way, nobody is obligated to look for “best intentions,” nobody is obligated to put up with this or hold back their profanity-laced rant.  And that would be true even if there was a chance in hell that their products would lead to long-term weight loss.

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies.  People are, at least for now, allowed to sell weight loss methods that almost never work. None of that, in any way, justifies something like this:

 

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Private message that says the following (all spelling and grammar from the original.) “Hi Ashleigh, I’ve just been here looking through your photos and I’ve noticed since after Christmas your face looks a little fuller, I don’t mean to cause offence this happens to a lot of people! I don’t no if you know but I work for [redacted] and we have some amazing products that will benefit you in loosing the weight.  If you would like to discuss more please reply to this message and we can get things sorted asap [smiley face emoji]  Thank you x

Nothing will ever justify this. (I’ll also point out that it’s creepy AF – why is this person randomly looking through someone’s photos and comparing face shapes between them?) If this has happened to you, the first thing to know is that THIS SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED TO YOU!  So what do you do?  Here are some options:

Ignore/Delete/Block 

Say nothing to the person, block them and move on with your life.

Reply

This could be anything from heartfelt paragraph about the dangers of fatphobia, and the chances that this person could be sending e-mail to people whose eating disorders will be triggered, to a fully annotated paper about Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. Or you could just say “How fucking dare you? This could not be more inappropriate and you need to stop doing this right now!”

Report

Send their information to the company that they are representing.  Perhaps something like:

“I wanted to let you know that [insert name and social media link] is representing your company poorly by sending unsolicited messages like this [quote message.] Obviously you know that this is inappropriate, offensive, and in addition to being fatphobic could end up triggering eating disorders.  I hope you’ll address this before more people are harmed.”

You can also report them to the social media site that they used to send it.

Name and Shame

They are so comfortable sending this out, surely they won’t mind if you let other people know about this fabulous opportunity.  Take a screenshot and send it on its way on social media.

Again, you get to decide how you deal with this, all I care about is that you know that it is well and truly bullshit. If you have other ideas for responses, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on January 18, 2017 at 9:35 am  Comments (15)  

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for this. I have had a few recently, not actually sending me private messages (yet). But people striking up pleasant and interesting none weight related conversations with me on Facebook, then sending a friend request, which I have usually accepted. Then realising that they well various diet stuff, so have blocked them. But I hadn’t joined the dots and realised this is a deliberate thing they are doing.

    • Woah. Firing off a one-off “ur fat, buy my product” PM is bad enough, but they actually spent that much time and effort gaining your trust before revealing they were advertisers who’d been doing it all for the express goal of selling you a weight loss product? That rockets straight out of “annoying” and into “creepy and predatory.”

  2. I absolutely HATE it when people suggest I want to “loose” weight. Wouldn’t my body fat look a whole lot WORSE if it were hanging more loosely from my frame?

  3. I have found quite a few of these weight loss or health related ads on Instagram and usually hit “ignore” and then click on “irrelevant” – So annoying that this crap pops up everywhere.

  4. Oh, dear. Things like this have been done with hand-written notes in mailboxes, and it always, ALWAYS backfired. Weight Watchers broke up friendships with their mass-mailings in the 80’s – recipients of their hand-written notes (which were basically this digital one handwritten and much more 80’s) “just knew” which of their asshole friends had sent it and stopped talking to them.

    But it gets even “better” (for a certain value of better” if you wander out of weight loss territory into, say, car sales: Toyota once decided to send “personal” (read: invasive) hand-written notes and calls to prospective customers. Recipients of the notes were scared out of their wits thinking they were being stalked, one moved, and IIRC one lost her husband, who mistook the ads for proof she was cheating on him. Or maybe that was a different mass-mailing from a different car company who looked at Toyota’s amazing failboat and thought, “that’s a good idea. We should do that, too.” It’s hard to remember.

    It was so hard to remember, I googled it, hoping for some more information on this hilariously misguided campaigns. What I found instead were advertising companies praising the idea as pure genius and telling their customers how they can make it work for them. Okay, I think at this point, we know the answer is “you can’t.” Seriously, this is a bad idea. It causes irreversible real-world bedlam. Do not try to sell things this way.

  5. RE: Nosnikrapzil

    WordPress won’t let me reply directly, but I did want to say that kind of advertising is super-gross. Firing off a one-off “Ur fat, buy my crap” PM is bad enough, but they actually spent time and effort gaining your trust before springing it on you they were a weight loss company who’d targeted you to buy their crap? That’s wandering past “annoying persistent marketer” into “internet predator.” I actually shuddered a little.

    • Crap, and then it spat out the post after all. I apologize for the double-post.

  6. I haven’t had this horrible fat shaming experience, but I did have a non-profit call me and started off the conversation claiming I was ‘harder to get hold of than the last pickle in the jar’. This ticked me off for two reasons: 1) I’m not there for their convenience and 2) I am currently unemployed and super easy to reach.

    It was such a clear tactic to make me feel guilty that I had even less desire to listen to their spiel than I usually do.

    • That doesn’t even make sense, because the last pickle in the jar is super easy to get. Just hold out your hand, or a slotted spoon, or a sieve, and pour out the jar into it, thus catching the pickle, and draining the jar in one step. Now, you’re ready to wash and recycle!

      Silly telemarketer.

  7. This sounds like the modern version of the mailer. I got a newspaper cut out with diet crap circled in red and a note that said “Here Jen try this….” It came from CA, no name and I just threw it away.

  8. My sister had a stranger do this to her in person! My sister was a work, a customer came in, and as she was helping her the woman said that she had some system/product/whatever that could help her lose “those last few pounds.” How freaking offensive! I’m so mad that people would do this, especially given the number of people trying to recover from eating disorders.

    • Trigger warning in story below.

      I had a job counselor try to get me to go to a clinic she worked at on the side. Of course, no one was on my side when I told them what she said. My mother agreed with her because it’d be easier for me to get a job if I were thin, so she thought the lady was actually just trying to help me.

      Gee, ever think that the solution is to end the stigma instead of expecting the targets to change themselves?

      Incidents like this, when no one is on your side, can tempt a person to feel helpless.

  9. I haven’t had anyone send me a private message — not yet, anyway — but a lady who was selling weight loss stuff or “specialized” in it showed up in the section called “People You May Know”, even though we had no mutual friends of which I am aware.

    Some people believe that people with no mutual friends show up in the aforementioned section of Facebook because they are peeking at our profiles. However, Facebook will not confirm this, so it’s up for debate.

    There is no way to know for sure if these strangers are looking at us or not.

    That woman would have been promptly blocked if she decided to bother me. Life is just too short and we all deserve better.

  10. Hey, my name is Mariah and this is my first post I read from you. I AM IN LOVE! This is so spot on! YOU GO! IT’s just so true! Its so annoying and we do all deserve better 🙂


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