The internet's fat-shaming campaign 'Operation Harpoon' is awful, but also not quite what it seems

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Friday 21 August 2015 11:00
news

Update: It looks like the Operation Harpoon pages on Facebook and Instagram are being removed.

Operation Harpoon, or Project Harpoon, is a particularly toxic campaign currently doing the rounds online.

The idea is to promote "digital liposuction" by Photoshopping pictures of overweight people - mostly women, mostly famous - to "highlight the difference between how they are and how they could be":

Operation Harpoon's Facebook and Tumblr pages carry this description:

This is a page dedicated to showing both sides of modern day beauty.

In current societal fashion, a recent trending surge of "pro-obesity" and "fat acceptance" have paved the way for many people to renounce exercise and personal healthcare in general. This page aims to only show that being skinny is okay as well! Skinny-shaming is not okay :)

Plus-size model Tess Holliday who features in many of the altered pictures told Us Weekly:

I actually laughed out loud [when I saw the pictures of myself]. The versions of me smaller aren’t even anatomically correct and my limbs are all stretched out like I’m made of Play-Doh.

People that do this kind of stuff will never get it. They need to work on their own issues and why they have so much hate and anger first.

But contrary to many media reports, the hashtags #SkinnyAppreciation, #SkinnyAcceptance and #ThinnerBeauty weren't started by 'thinspo' enthusiasts with unhealthy body image issues.

There's evidence that the project began life on noxious corners of 4Chan and a subreddit called 'thInnerbeauty', where overweight people are often referred to as 'landwhales', in order to troll people they term 'fat activists' and 'feminists'.

One image that has been reposted and viewed thousands of times says that since female comic and video game characters have recently been redrawn with normal bodies, it's totally the same thing to take real pictures of big women and photoshop them without permission:

"Summon the Photoshop wizzards [sic]... If nothing else, keks will be had", the post reads. 'Keks' is World of Warcraft speak for 'lol' - and it certainly seems to be working:

When one lifestyle website picked up the story, several commenters on the forums were furious and proved the journalist's point about getting lols out of being cruel, shallow and sexist by deciding to '#ThInnerBeauty' photoshop her, too.

After looking at the image, another user warned that:

Some people are starting to use the pictures as inspiration for weight loss online despite the fact that many of the altered shots aren't promoting realistic or healthy body images.

So how not to feed the trolls? Many of the #ThinnerBeauty commenters rightly point out that pictures of women are photoshopped on magazine covers to promote a certain body image all the time. What they don't seem to understand is that their (bad) Photoshopping efforts are part of the problem.

Women can look however they want, and it's none of 4Chan's business.

There's not really anything left to say except:

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