Project Harpoon

Silhouetted woman in tree pose beside the sea at sunrise

It doesn’t take much to tip me into rage – an unexpected toe stub or standing in dog poo in the park are high up the list, along with many other un-podiatric things. But now and again rage is gifted to me by something so staggeringly despicable that it’s almost beyond comprehension by the rational mind; enter Project Harpoon. 

Project Harpoon is the brain child of a devastatingly misguided mind – some utter cretin set up a swathe of social media accounts under the guise of promoting healthy living. No problem whatsoever there. The issue is in the way they’re doing that: through the comparison of before and after photos of ‘plus sized’ women (and one token guy). That is before and after they have been Photo Shopped into unrecognisable versions of themselves without their consent or permission or even their knowledge. 

How do I hate thee Project Harpoon? Let me count the ways. 

First things first, it’s called Project HARPOON! Just…yuk. 

The creator (anonymous by the way) seems to think him/herself feminist. There are many many things damaging to the idea of gender equality, reinforcing so spectacularly obtusely that women are better thinner is right up there on the list. The photos are all helpfully backed up with creative captions like ‘Now this is a true looker in disguise. From double wide to a possible bride, being thin could do wonders.’ Really?? 

Even scarier is the idea that this is in any way about being healthier. Nowhere on any of the images or accounts are there any recommendations for anyone hoping to live a healthier lifestyle, tips on healthy eating or safe and sensible weight loss, exercise regimes.  Instead women stumbling across these images are faced with the most ludicrous manipulated bodies (boobs left full size of course, because obviously – boobs. Eye roll.) that aside from being gross to look at and a vile invasion of the ‘models’ privacy,  are NOT REAL. 

This is still a huge issue. Body shaming, unattainable ideals and the idea that women have to look a certain way are never ever ok but for me it always comes back to my step-daughters. No matter how many times I try to tell them that they are beautiful just as they are, that they can be anything they want to be, some plonker with a keyboard and mediocre image editing skills will come along to try to show them that’s not the case. 

Thankfully the internet is fighting back – in the last week the Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr pages have been taken down in response to the backlash. 

Showing people how to live a healthier lifestyle is no bad thing but hateful campaigns like this one are not the way to do that. Health doesn’t come from being bullied or shamed into taking action. Can we start running soul tests before granting internet access please?  

Dining Alone
The Art of Complaining