By Holly Russel, Regular ContributorSeptember 2, 2015
Just when you thought the Internet couldn’t get any more hostile toward women, news of a cruel campaign called “Project Harpoon” spread through news feeds everywhere last week.
What exactly is this abomination? Well a bunch of super helpful wannabe Photoshop experts have channeled their disgust over fat women into stealing their images from the Internet, digitally manipulating them to show women how they’d look if they fit into Project Harpoon’s misguided female aesthetic, and then publishing them on social media for all to consume and judge. I wish I was kidding.
Celebrities, singers, models and even ordinary women have all been targeted by the hate-group. Why would someone do this? Nick Baskins, one of the leaders behind this campaign, tells his sorry tale to People:
“Our intention is not to harm, oppress, or 'trigger' anyone … We get dozens of messages a day talking about how our photos have inspired them to go to the gym and maintain a better lifestyle."
image via fstoppers.com
Please forgive me if I’m not buying it. What is harmless about inferring that your chosen targets are whales? What is inspiring about that? Doesn’t that just make you want to rush to the gym and work out so you can win the approval of these insensitive trolls? Me neither.
Aside from the campaign being disgusting, insulting, and misogynistic (of the 118 photos on the group’s website, only five are of men), it is body policing in its purest and most brutal form.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of opinions regarding fat shaming, body acceptance, skinny shaming, etc. etc. etc. – the fact remains that no matter what their aim, the group feels entitled to not only dictate what a person’s body can and should look like, but also to appropriate that person’s image and “fix” it for them.
Just what the world needs: more people policing women’s bodies.
Even more disturbing is that Project Harpoon exists in the same vein as nude selfie hacks and revenge porn. It is theft of someone’s image – taking ownership of their physical identity and putting it on public display without their knowledge or consent, largely to criticize and humiliate.
Perhaps worst of all is that Project Harpoon completely de-humanizes its subjects.
It strips people of their agency and turns them into nothing more than bodies to be manipulated. The offenders seem to have forgotten that their subjects are HUMAN BEINGS, with loved ones, ambitions, strengths, quirks, intelligence, the capacity for kindness, and everything else that makes someone a three-dimensional being who has value and deserves respect.
Is it so hard to treat people like people? Those responsible for this idiocy seem to think so. Mercifully, the majority of our species has evolved past this kind of baseless hostility toward diverse bodies. We may not have achieved a utopia of acceptance yet, but I’m willing to bet that at least 9 out of 10 people you meet would stand up against this kind of hatred and tell Project Harpoon exactly where it can stick its spear.
How do you feel about Project Harpoon? How can we work to end body shaming in all forms? Tell us below!
Holly Russel has a BA in Journalism from New York University. She’s a Senior Marketing Copywriter for a pet health company and counts dogs among her favorite things on the planet – along with tacos, books, social media, and the City of New York. When she makes it out from behind the computer screen, Holly spends her time practicing yoga, kayaking, and indoor cycling. She lives and writes in Wilmington, NC.
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