Fat Loss Factor isn’t all that different from other online diet plans: It’s unclear how it works until you buy, their advertising all seems shady, and it’s incredibly difficult to find legit reviews about their weight loss methods. But they’re distinguishing themselves by targeting a demographic that others don’t dare: Anorexic teens, via the pro ana community on Tumblr.
WARNING: Content may be triggering for those with eating disorders or body image problems.
The strategy sounds almost too horrific to be true, but the posts–which have been put up under several stock tumblr accounts–are undeniably meant to provoke the anorexic teen girls and women who belong to pro ana communities. In the example below (which links out to FatLossFactor.com), the post is not only visually triggering; it’s actually tagged with popular terms used by the pro ana community on tumblr, including “pro ana,” “thinspo,” “thinspiration,” and “eating disorder.”
Others shown over at buzzfeed also target self-harming teens, using tags like “scars” to grab their attention.
The program’s creator, Charles Livingston (whose qualifications as a chiropractor and internet marketing expert should tell you all you need to know about his weight loss program), told Buzzfeed that he had nothing to do with the pro ana marketing scheme:
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Livingston said FatLossFactor is not involved in placing the pro-ana ads for its products, and said he had instructed his vendor to “blacklist the affiliate” when he learned of the campaign.
“That is so wrong and we do our best to control this,” he said.
But it’s unclear whether he has the authority to stop the ads (or whether he actually tried to at all):
Similar ads from different Tumblr accounts, however, continue to run days after Livingston said he blacklisted the affiliate, suggesting that either multiple affiliates are running these type of ads; that one person is using multiple affiliate IDs; or FatLossFactor didn’t actually blacklist them.
If it isn’t bad enough that diet companies capitalize on women’s low self-esteem, set by advertising and media that only features thin women of uniform proportions, this just takes it to a new low. We’d be surprised if you don’t have a problem with the ethics of marketing an online diet scam to anorexic girls and women with eating disorders, but if not, there’s always the fact that you could be spending your money on real food and a healthy lifestyle, instead of a fad diet that you have no proof is effective or safe.