A body-positive campaigner is calling for the end of “fat-phobic” weight loss ads she compared to “gay conversion therapy.”
Brie Read, 40, who lives in Oxford, believes ads promoting weight loss products are “one of the most dangerous forms of body shaming culture” and wants leading social media sites to ban them completely.
It comes after Pinterest banned all products that promote diets or weight-loss products earlier this month, a move Brie says will help prevent “damage” food culture is having on people’s mental health.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Brie said these types of products “explicitly and implicitly prey on people’s existing insecurities about their bodies,” and that the idea that being fat is inherently “bad and shameful.”
Brie Read, 40, who lives in Oxford, is a body-positive campaigner calling for the end of ‘fat-phobic’ weight loss ads she compared to ‘gay conversion therapy’
Brie is the CEO of hosiery brand Snag, which she founded in 2018 to provide tights for women of ‘every size and shape’ – from size 4 to 28+
“Weight loss ads are fat phobic in exactly the same way that gay conversion therapy ads are homophobic,” she said. “They explicitly promote the idea that being fat is inherently bad and something to be ashamed of.”
Brie is the CEO of hosiery brand Snag, which she founded in 2018 to provide tights for women of ‘every size and shape’ – from size four to 28+.
She said her business means seeing firsthand the harm caused by weight loss product ads, and says weight loss culture can often lead to depression, social anxiety, and even body dysmorphism.
“Weight loss ads are one of the most dangerous forms of the body shaming culture that is unfortunately so pervasive on social media in general,” says Brie. “As a society, we have rightly recognized that no one should be ashamed of gender, race or sexuality. But unfortunately, body shaming still takes place on social media.
Brie believes ads promoting weight loss products are ‘one of the most dangerous forms of ‘body shaming culture’
Campaigner says weight loss products don’t exist to help people improve their health, but companies can take advantage of people’s insecurity about their weight
“We wouldn’t expect social media platforms to tolerate ads that put people to shame because of their features. It’s also time we stopped accepting ads that are deliberately designed to make people feel ashamed of their own bodies.”
Brie believes that weight loss products are counterproductive and are not intended to help people improve their health, but rather so that companies can take advantage of people’s insecurities about their weight.
“Ads for weight loss products are a huge contributor to the body shaming culture on social media, which is replete with posts promoting ‘beach-ready bodies’ and other unattainable beauty standards,” Brie said.
“At Snag, we passionately believe that no one should be ashamed of the way their body is. If people want to lose weight for their own, positive reasons, we fully support that choice, but we also support everyone who loves their body the way it is now.”
Size-acceptance champion believes weight loss products prey on people’s existing insecurities about their bodies and increase concerns that their bodies are ‘ugly’ or ‘bad’
Brie has also claimed that social media algorithms will erase content showing larger-sized people, likely blocking content from larger people.
The champion of size acceptance believes that weight loss products amplify people’s concerns that their bodies are ‘ugly’ or ‘bad’.
“They reinforce the idea that you should be ashamed if your body doesn’t meet a totally arbitrary and unachievable standard,” says Brie. “When people are ashamed of their bodies, it can be hugely damaging to their mental health — they feel less attractive, less successful, and ultimately less worthy.”
She says that in extreme cases, the weight-loss culture can lead to the kind of tragic body dysmorphia that the late Big Brother star Nikki Graham struggled with, and that she’s heard of “thousands” of clients who have felt “failed” for years because of their weight.
Brie has also claimed that social media algorithms erase content that shows people with a larger size, with content from larger users being more likely to be blocked, censored or reported than if the person was slim.
She often encounters these challenges while running her inclusive fashion brand, saying that images posted to promote the launch of their fake garter collection were quickly blocked, censored or reported.
“The problem was that these algorithms had been trained using images of small bodies, and as a result, images of bodies of different sizes thought ‘too much skin,’ Brie said.
“Our images weren’t more explicit than other underwear brands, but because they showed bigger bodies and not slim, petite bodies, we were punished.
Brie has called for those with a large online following to take more responsibility for what they post online, saying social media algorithms make it easy to ‘lose control’ over what kind of content we watch.
“This is especially true for plus-sized black and Asian women. Instagram recently revised its nudity policy to improve this type of discrimination, but we still have a long way to go before social media platforms become truly safe places for curvy people.”
Brie has called on people with a large online following to take more responsibility for what they post online, saying social media algorithms mean it’s easy to “lose control” over what kind of content we watch.
“The problem with social media algorithms is that we can quickly lose control over what content we get,” says Brie. “You just have to like a video with a questionable hashtag or caption to be bombarded with content that contains malicious or harmful messages.
“If you happen to start following someone who has a dysfunctional relationship with food, or is really struggling with their body image, and this starts showing through in their content, it can adversely affect users without them realizing it – which is extraordinary.” is worrying.
“That’s why it’s so important that more brands and prominent individuals use their platforms to spread supportive, responsible, inclusive content.”