Yesterday as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I was treated to an ad that Facebook had decided was relevant to my life as a high school female.
The words “Skinny Confidential” headed the advertisement; below, the post expanded, informing me: “‘1 Summer Weight Loss Trick:’ This Secret Was Designed to Lose Weight and See Real Results In Just Days.”
The ad urged me to click on an included link, and was even thoughtful enough to provide me with a picture of two bikini-clad teenagers smiling arm-in-arm on a beach.
Hm. Maybe when Facebook (controversially) drew from the cookies on my computer to market specific ads toward me as a teenage female, they saw all the body-positive About-Face blog entries I had read, and that’s why they thought it would be at all appropriate to cater this ad to me.
Perhaps it was when I visited the National Eating Disorder Association website to inquire about how to bring NEDAwareness Week to my high school that made it seem like I would appreciate this advertisement.
Or maybe it was the websites I visited when I wrote an English paper urging the inclusion of fat-positive characters in children’s books that made Facebook think that I would just love some weight-loss tricks.
What the hell, Facebook?
It is well known that Facebook has been under fire recently for disclosing information about its users to third-person parties, partly in order to cater company’s ads to certain demographic groups for monetary profit.
Though I really am not in favor of Facebook abusing my privacy, my opinion on the matter of Facebook giving away my personal information at this point seems like a different issue. Facebook, if you’re not going to stop selling my interests and “likes” to corporations, at least have the decency to spare me from your dieting advertisements.
For a company that pledges to “(take) threats of self harm very seriously,” and to “remove any promotion or encouragement of… eating disorders,” you are doing a poor job. Catering advertisements that urge me and other young people to hate our bodies is just another insidious form of thinspiration.
I’m not looking to change my body, and you shouldn’t be encouraging me to. And just so you know, spamming me with picturesque dieting ads is not going to make me any more eager to keep going on Facebook, either.
If you want to contact Facebook about the ads it is opting to show on your newsfeed, log onto Facebook, click “Help,” then “Visit the Help Center.” Scroll down to “Report Something,” click “Give Us Feedback,” and under “Facebook for Business” click “Advertising.” There will be a form that you can fill out concerning your thoughts.
Haley Zovickian is a Bay Area high school senior who loves reading, hiking, and the body-positive movement.