Project Harpoon Edits Images of Plus-Size People to Promote Thin Body Types

Project Harpoon Edits Images of Plus-Size People to Promote Thin Body Types

There is a movement by the name Project Harpoon, or more recently Operation Harpoon, with the sole purpose of finding images of plus-size celebrities, models, and regular folks, then editing the image to make the people from the original image a skinnier version of themselves. The images are generally accompanied by some rather crude comments to the effect of "Isn't that better?" The creators of this movement claim they are doing this to "help misguided women."

Body shaming, and specifically plus-size acceptance, has been a hot topic over the last couple years. There has been a big push to include more variety in body types across media and we are seeing a fair amount of progress being made in that regard. Plus-size body types are beginning to see celebrity role models, there are plus size models on magazine covers, advertisements targeted to plus-sized body types, and even store mannequins have begun popping up in plus-sized versions. There is a lot of talk about everything "plus sized," and even modeling agencies are beginning to cater entire divisions strictly dedicated to plus-sized models to fulfill client demand.

As with any revolution however, there will always be a segment of the population that does not agree, and plus sized acceptance is no different. Those who oppose claim that obesity is a direct result of poor self-maintenance. You will hear references to poor diet, laziness, and lack of exercise. Those who oppose the acceptance of plus-sized body types in the media do so because they feel it distorts a society's perspective on personal health and cultivates a generation of people who think an unhealthy body type is acceptable.

That is exactly where Project Harpoon steps in. Their entire premise is that through fitness and diet any person can become "attractive." Of course, their view of what is attractive is a bit narrow, shall we say. The creators of the movement go out and use images found across the Internet of plus-sized people and post side-by-side comparisons on their Facebook page with the "new and improved" version. There is usually some condescending and shameful comment attached to each post in an effort to drive home the point that obesity is not attractive.

On a personal note, we have done a fair amount of work relating to body positivity in my studio. I have had the privilege to see the sheer courage it takes for many plus-sized models to overcome public scrutiny for issues which are quite frankly out of their control. I can not imagine the devastating feeling one might have if they discovered their image being altered on Project Harpoon's page with captions that claim how much "better" you could be. Regardless of personal beliefs on this issue, nobody deserves this kind of treatment. I will let the following samples speak for themselves:

operation-harpoon-fat-shaming

project-harpoon-fat-shaming

celebrity-shaming-project-harpoon

Project Harpoon Body Positivity

[via DailyMail]

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28 Comments

I approve of this. 100% of fat people would look better if they were of normal weight. I didn't say thin, I said NORMAL. That means no love handles but no anorexia either.

Stepan Maxa's picture

Enjoy that rage from fat people :)))

Oh, well I used to be very fat too but now I have a six pack and I'm not talking about the beer variety. Unless you have a medical condition there is simply no excuse to be taking up two seats on the subway.

Stepan Maxa's picture

7 people think otherwise :)
"Medical condition" is favorite excuse, but only about 2 % of people really have medical condition

These people get offended very easily if I may say.

Really can't believe that you're giving, essentially, advertising space, to a 4chan-based shaming campaign.

"Project Harpoon"? The name seems to hint at whales....

David Vaughn's picture

This is a troll. This is a 4chan troll. There is nothing sincere about this "project."

It's just people feigning well-meaning and trying to get a rise out of people.

Even though the debate might be relevant, this particular "campaign" deserves no commentary other than "Oh look, 4chan's awfulness is leaking out of the depths of hell again."

Don't legitimize this garbage by calling it anything else but what it is: a troll made by unhappy people trying to make others just as unhappy.

Roberto Inetti's picture

I agree. In this case is Fstoppers who is trolling us.

That "project" should be placed back in it's context.

Juste relating it and showing the pictures is participating at this massive trolling attempt.

Fstoppers should know better, but again... they don't do journalism, they relate content from elsewhere on the web. It' OK to do so when you have some sort of filter.

The should watch the Newsroom...

Anonymous's picture

haha oh man

Ariel Martini's picture

you cite the source but just omit all they said about the sarcastic origin of it.

Wow. I could write an essay on why this is so awful.

I'm not a fan of the whole fat acceptance/pride movement because it really seems to be more about body shaming small people. I'm a size 0 and people feel compelled to regularly tell me they hate me because I'm so skinny (typically in a department store and dressing room, where finding clothing to fit has become next to impossible thanks to vanity sizing). I can sign on to Facebook right now and find a number of memes that pop up with a morbidly obese woman in a bikini that says something like "real women have curves" and pictures of bikini models that say "only dogs want bones". This isn't body acceptance. It's the same old thing my mother used to tell me in 3rd grade when the girls would tease me over my hair... "they're just jealous". And people who accept who they are don't feel the need to cut down others.

Secondly, body acceptance is about accepting your body and being comfortable with who you are. Sometimes, you have to face the facts in order to accept who you really are. Being morbidly obese is not healthy. It doesn't take an MD to understand that a 5'7" person shouldn't carry around 400lbs on their frame. While the obesity may or may not be caused by a medical condition, or whether the person has clean bloodwork, someone who is obese will have more problems caused by the weight than an average person. And as human beings we ALL have to accept things about ourselves in order to fix them for our own health. Do insulin dependent diabetics just say "I'm not going to take insulin today, being diabetic is just who I am"? No, you face the facts and deal with it.

Third, websites and social media accounts that make this type of thing are trying to add fuel to the fire. They aren't sparking much intelligent conversation with their images except for a few places like here. I can't help but think the creators of this whole thing are frat boys attention whoring. What kind of people steal images on the internet to alter the bodies and say "there, I fixed it"? Isn't there an entire movement against altering the bodies of models to get rid of wrinkles, cellulite, and enhance the hips and breasts? How is this different?

Last, some of the actual photoshop skills are really terrible. If you're going to be an asshole, at least do a better job.

/rant

michael andrew's picture

What does this have to do with photography? These people are just manipulating stolen images?

Paulo Macedo's picture

" These people are just manipulating" it has photoshop... :runsaway:

Ivan Astigarraga's picture

hahahaah
/b/ strikes again!
I cant believe this is actually here! lol

Stuart Smith's picture

Lazy work fstoppers - taking a sensationalist tabloid article and basically reposting it. Pretty much clickbait nastiness.

Joe Watson's picture

Really, REALLY hate this. Kinda shocked you guys gave it the time of day.

Paulo Macedo's picture

Well, i'm going to be bad on this. I hate fat people excuses. Why? Because i was a fatso myself with some whooping 140Kg. Yay! Blod preasure on the rise, cholesterol on the rise, and Him knows how i didn't get diabetes.
At the age of 22 i've decided to become a normal person and stop the damn excuses. 57Kg later, blood pressure dropped, cholesterol on normal levels. What i've gained? A body i refuse to display, backpain, almost destroyed knee caps.

Nowadays, with this "oversized model" thing (because i call them slobs who's food is an excuse for everything), looks like beeing fat is the real deal, dying at the age of 50 due to heart disease is fashion.
There is no excuse for fat people and i might get voted down, but i don't believe in fat people who feels good with themselves, they can't do most normal things out there, like lacing their shoes.

So yeah, morbid obese people are not example for anyone. There are models with curves(fatty if you will) beautiful and slightly overweight, normal models and then those sticks used to eat at the chineese restaurant (you will see them on the local mall ads). But obese people are not models in any aspect of the equation.

Sorry, i was obese, i know what my body has suffered and how beeing in constant pain is, sleeping 5 hours a day or less because backpain won't let you sleep more than that. =/

I'm in no way trying to offend anyone, I just don't believe in obese people excuses, I face obesity as a disease.

Spy Black's picture

Obesity is also the product of a vicious food industry run amok. I'm convinced much of the modern "fat is fine" movement is funded through them. It's a sad state of affairs when I see obese children, never mind adults. It was not like this once.

Paulo Macedo's picture

It's a bit "conspiracious" to think so, but i wouldn't doubt it. Like fit people are wrong and fat right.

Why oh why does everything have to go to extremes these days? Obese vs. Skinny, Red vs. Blue, Atheists vs. believers, etc etc.

BTW: While I don't agree with shaming of anyone at any time, and yes I know the female species takes this very VERY seriously so I especially try to stay away from anything other than compliments... anyway... some of us older guys might remember that we were continuously "skinny-shamed" long long time ago in all of our species publications. Most of us turned out OK...

David Vaughn's picture

The "body acceptance" movement, the way I perceive it, isn't about obese people saying they're healthy. It's about people not completely hating their body or being hated on for their body.

People have this notion that most overweight people don't know they're overweight or think that the extra weight they have is healthier for them than not having it. Most people are not that dense.

"Healthy at every weight" is worded awfully, but its spirit is that it's saying "Not every weight is a healthy weight, but you can and should feel motivated at any weight to strive for healthiness."

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

Is this F-stoppers? Ouch, I think it is. :-(

I have mixed feelings about this movement. One one hand, I admire the photoshop work itself. I also think the before and afters are neat to look at. I also am fine with the whole reason this was made to begin with.

The original text in the first post that started it all stated: ">“So here’s the idea. If the Tumblr fat acceptance/feminists make a big eal over photoshopping video game characters to be fatter than what they are, why don’t we photoshop their own photos to make them thinner, more attractive and, well, normal? Sharing the photos with the hashtag #ThinnerBeauty. Share the project, and summon the photoshop wizards”

The project is believed to be in response to feminists recently photoshopping video game characters to be fatter than they were as if it is healthy and okay to be fat. "

On the other, I don't feel they are in any way truly out to help fat people. i sent the page on Facebook a message saying that if they were, they would at least balance out the posts with links to exercises or something, anything. i gave them a bunch of Instagram accounts of fitness girls that post exercise tips that they could post. My message was read but they never replied and last i checked they didn't post anything relating to my suggestions either. Regardless, the page seems to be down now anyway.

Jon Wolding's picture

Did Gawker buy Fstoppers?

You know, I have mixed feelings on this. I love that people of all sizes and shapes are in love with their bodies -- self confidence is important to a healthy life! However, there's nothing wrong with encouraging weight loss. I for one am overweight, and while I'm very happy with myself and my body, I'm also actively losing weight and would love to make a transformation as shown above. I'm not doing this to be more beautiful, or because I hate my fat body, I'm doing this to be healthy. Some people can be somewhat overweight and still healthy, but being a normal weight is generally healthier.

So boo for making the women in these photos feel bad by photoshopping them without their permission. But there's nothing wrong with encouraging people to be healthy either.