• Wed, Jan 9 2013

Awful Online Diet Program Uses Thinspo Pictures To Attract Teens With Eating Disorders

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 9.29.07 AM

In horrible news, a company called FatLossFactor is ruthlessly targeting teenagers with eating disorders to sell diet products… by spreading pro-ana thinspo and self harm images on Tumblr.

Upon visiting, FatLossFactor is a pretty innocuous weight loss site, promising flat abs and advertising detox programs or fat burning tips. It’s run by an affable cartoon man named Charles Livingston (screenshot, top left), who appears on the site only in his illustrated form and is refered to throughout as “Dr. Charles.” Per usual with the glut of internet weight loss websites, you have to pay to discern much about the program itself.

But their system is advertised on Tumblr like so:

pro-ana thinspo Fat Loss Factor advertisement

For those of you unable to see, it’s a typical example of so-called thinspo: a faceless woman in a dank place, the focus being on her narrow hips and long legs. Over the image reads, The Gap In Your Thighs. The link to the site is embedded as Need to Lose Weight? and, crassest of all, are its hashtags: #pro ana #thinspo, #thinspiration #thin #mia #eating disorder

Although Tumblr (and Instagram and Pinterest) made headlines last year when they banned this kind of content, the ads persist. Buzzfeed’s Katie Notopoulos explains:

[Ads for FatLossFactor.com] continue to be posted by stock accounts against targeted keywords (tags) associated with pro-ana content, like “thinspo” and “starve,” so they appear beside images of extremely thin young women.

The ads are targeted by someone with an intimate knowledge of how the pro-ana Tumblr community works, exploiting the types of tags popular among young women encouraging one another in eating disorders, and targeting the ultra-thin images they find most appealing. In many instances, the ads are reblogged by others in the community, amplifying the ad’s message further. Some of the ads are also tagged with keywords like “scars,” targeting at self-harming teens as well.

She’s not kidding:

pro-ana thinspo Fat Loss Factor advertisement

Yes, an online diet site is using cutting thinspo to sell fat burning tips.

Livingston claims, however, that FatLossFactor isn’t the specific entity placing his ads on Tumblr in this impressively awful way. …But he is using other (shady?) techniques to advertise his wares, such as “flooding Google results for related searches like ‘Fat Loss Factor scam’ with positive reviews.”

Livingstone claims he doesn’t know how the ads ended up on Tumblr in their current iteration (and Buzzfeed helpfully illuminates how that’s possible) but for the time being, FatLossFactor’s dangerous, grossly exploitative ads are still there.

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  • Cee

    UGH I fucking hate thinspo so much! My teenaged sister has an eating disorder and while the images of the girls at times don’t appeal to her, the stupid sayings do. She takes all these sayings as gospel. I wish I could make all of them go away.

    • http://thegloss.com/ Ashley Cardiff

      The “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” stuff?

    • Cee

      Yea. She used to collect/pin a bunch..ugh, I’m drawing a blank about what they said, but they really affect her. She quotes them like fox watchers quote things like “nanny state” (snark comparison, but true) And you know, because there is a girl in yoga pants and work out shoes in the background its not pro ana and toootally harmless.

  • adezero

    Fatloss factor isn’t doing this – they are an affliate marketing network that anyone can sign up and sell their product. I’m certain it’s just a third party affiliate doing this on tumblr. Do your research before writing a whole article. Google “affiliate marketing” and correct this article please, thanks.

    • adezero

      you’re basically libeling this company, fyi.

    • Peaches

      Not sure if you know what libel means, fyi.

      “[Livingston] claims he doesn’t know how the ads ended up on Tumblr in their current iteration (and Buzzfeed helpfully illuminates how that’s possible).”