Plus-Sized Models Target of Online Harassment Through Altered Images

A group is stealing pics of plus-sized models and altering them to look thinner.

August 25, 2015, 11:02 AM

— -- A new form of online harassment is targeting women, stealing their images online and digitally altering their pictures to make them look thinner.

The group behind the so-called hate project, “Project Harpoon,” is taking aim at completely unsuspecting women by editing their photos and reposting them on social media with captions on Facebook like, “Wow, from a depressed chub to an elegant fox."

The targets are plus-sized everyday women and models, but even actresses like Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson and singer Meghan Trainor have also felt their wrath.

“We are sending the wrong message to young women out there that if you’re not a [size] two or a four that you deserve to get Photoshopped in a picture and that is not the message we should be sending to young women today,” millennial lifestyle expert Chelsea Krost told ABC News.

Nick Baskins, one of the leaders behind this campaign, says it supports the movement of being in shape and not feeding into obesity, telling People magazine, “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."

But plus-sized model Ruby Roxx was not inspired when a picture of her was altered without her permission.

“When I first saw it I kind of laughed just because the Photoshopping is really poorly done for one thing, but it’s also just completely unnatural,” Roxx explained. “Not everybody is meant to be a size zero or a size two.”

Roxx was so angered she published a blog post but, in a surprising turn, instead of lashing out she thanked them.

“I didn’t want the blog to be just me ranting and me being angry,” she said about her post. “I don’t want to put negative energy out into the world, and so I’m going to say, ‘Thank you. Thank you for giving me the strength to overcome this, thank you for giving me the power to be able to fight you and to fight the bullies.’”

The Project Harpoon campaign using Facebook and Instagram accounts to share their images has since been shut down.

“Pages like this have no place on our platform,” a Facebook representative wrote to ABC News. “We do not tolerate bullying or harassment and we will continue to remove this content as quickly as possible when it is reported to us.”

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