Targeting Postpartum Moms With Weight Loss Products Is Cyber-Bullying
A couple years ago, my husband got a Facebook message from a guy he had never met. It took a few minutes of Facebook sleuthing, but we eventually figured out that we attended the same huge church. Neither of us had spoken a word to this dude when he sent my husband this message:
“Hey man, I just wanted to reach out and see if you might need a little help speaking to your wife about her health goals. I am a nutrition and exercise coach, and I’d love to help you figure out how to open up the conversation and get your wife moving and eating in a way that will enrich her life and yours.”
This “coach” was actually a rep for an MLM company, and the weight-loss program he sold was many hundreds of dollars every month.
As much as I wish we would have, we didn’t give him the scathing response he deserved, and I’m still kind of annoyed by it, but I was new to fat positivity. I had just started making the transition from self-hatred and constant weight loss attempts to self-acceptance and understanding my body. At that point, I hadn’t built up the deep well of sass and outrage and power that I pull from now.
We just didn’t respond at all. I asked my husband to delete the message, and I steered clear of him any time I saw his loathsome face at church.
His message confused me and made me so angry. I always looked my very best for church. Stylish clothes. Hair on point. Winged liner so sharp it could cut a bitch. I took my time on Sunday mornings while my husband dressed and fed the kids. It was our thing.
This guy just assumed that despite all my effort, my husband was so disgusted with how I looked (literally the only thing this guy knew about me) that he needed assistance even figuring out how to bring weight loss up to me?
I assure you, Asshole In My Husband’s Inbox, that if he was the least bit concerned about my health and well-being, he would tell me. And the way I look is not a problem for my husband. He chose me exactly like this, and he is into it.
What kind of bullshit was this?
I’ll tell you what kind. The same kind that fat people deal with Every. Single. Fucking. Day. Messages from near-strangers about changing our bodies through weight loss are par for the course. People just assume we are potential customers because honestly, who would want to live like this?
It’s constant for many of us living in a larger body, and you know who else deals with it?
Brand new moms. While women are fresh out of the hospital, just trying to figure out how to shower and maybe sleep a little bit, some people who run MLM wellness businesses have taken it upon themselves to target moms offering to “help them” do things like lose weight, “bounce back,” or hide stretch marks.
If you don’t think this is a cruel, shitty thing to do, allow me to correct you.
It absolutely is.
It’s a cruel, shitty, predatory marketing technique and people who do it need to knock that shit off.
Rushing into someone’s inbox with unsolicited offers to “help” a person change the way their body looks is cyber-bullying. You’re essentially targeting someone in a vulnerable position and exploiting their insecurity for your own personal gain.
It’s not okay.
If you think this isn’t a huge freaking problem, check out this Instagram post that is literally full of examples. Read every word. It’s worth it.
Moms being targeted about weight loss while on bed rest after emergency surgery. Former “coaches” admitting companies encourage this crap. Reps taking photos of strangers to use in their marketing plan. Weight loss challenges where the reps invite literal strangers based on nothing but the way they look in photos. Promises to help a mom “bounce back,” insinuating that her post-baby body isn’t already in the shape it was before she got pregnant.
The whole entire post is full of abusive behaviors and tired, frustrated people who just want to exist without being pounced on every five minutes.
Seriously? CAN WE LIVE?
Just a couple weeks ago, an acquaintance sent me the twelfth message he has sent in the last two years. I never, ever, one single time asked for his help. I shouldn’t have been surprised though, because capitalizing on big, emotional life events is his thing. He’s done it before. Every time I have a major life event, he runs a “weight loss special.” It’s shockingly unoriginal.
It makes sense that he couldn’t resist right now because…you guessed it… I’m about to have a baby.
In his estimation, that means that soon, I’m going to be able to abuse my body with unregulated supplements and severe calorie restriction as required by his program.
But he is clearly not paying one bit of attention to a word I say.
I could not be more outspoken about how anti-diet culture I am. I have spent the last two years transforming my mind, and as a result, my body is in the best place it’s been in years. Probably because I listen to it now. I approach doctors without fear to address any and all of my concerns. The foods I eat nourish my body and the movement I choose makes me strong and happy. I’m not thin. But I am good.
I am good, dude.
Also, I am nine mother effing months pregnant. Are you kidding me??
Do I want to lose weight?
HELL YES. I want to lose however much this giant baby weighs, pronto. Maybe a little extra for the fluid accumulating in my cankles.
But I don’t need a “wellness coach” for that. I’m going to let my OB handle this one.
Anyway, after eleven previous polite “no thank yous,” he swooped on in with yet another offer to “help me” not be so damn fat, and I couldn’t take any more.
I told him in no uncertain terms that I finally have a relationship with my body that is healthy and happy, and that I would not be a client for him. Not now. Not ever. I explained that mental health is health, and hyper-focusing on my size and weight loss was a great way for me to ruin my mental health.
Then I deleted him because having a few mutual friends isn’t a good enough reason to be continually disrespected, disregarded and hounded.
And listen. This isn’t about MLMs. I have a drawer full of kitchen gadgets that I bought at home parties. I don’t care what anyone says. That garlic peeler thingy is a lifesaver. I am not anti-MLM.
But I am really, really not okay with the way some people choose to use their multi-level endeavor to make people, especially vulnerable new mothers, feel like shit.
If a fat person or a new mom wants your wrap, patch, shake, subscription, meal plan, sublingual drop or impossible freaking exercise DVD, she knows exactly where to find you. Fat people and new moms do not exist to further your business.
Unless we reach out, can you just, like…not?
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