This week both a feminist lingerie brand called Neon Moon, which I have written about in a previous article, and a Facebook troll group called Project Harpoon became the subject of a lot of articles as the two met in on line battle.
Project Harpoon is a page dedicated to ‘inspiring women to reach their natural beauty’ and ‘spreading thin love’, which translates to photoshopping pictures of women to look thinner and fat-shaming women that they feel are not ‘perfect’. When Project Harpoon chose to photoshop one of Neon Moons models, Paulina, company founder Hayat Rachi hit back.
Along with help of Neon Moons many supporters the image was removed, and eventually the whole page was shut down. A massive victory to feminists everywhere who believe that the sexualisation of women and impossible ‘standards of beauty’ are harmful.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Hayat earlier today and talk with her about the whole experience.
You’ve spoken about what’s driven you to create your products in the past, and your desire to de-objectify women and portray real people in your campaign, but for those that may be unfamiliar with Neon Moon and your objectives, could you briefly describe yourself to them?
Neon Moon is a feminist underwear brand that does not sexualise or objectify women and LGBTQIA+. Feminism is the social, economic and political equality for all. Women being objectified and sexualised doesn’t give us an equal footing in the world! Neon Moon also chooses not to retouch any of our models – instead their natural attributes such as body hair, acne, cellulite, stretch marks, freckles and scars are highlighted in a body positive way. Neon Moon is fighting the very narrow standard of ‘beauty’ that pressurises girls, women and LGBTQIA+ to look a certain way. Neon Moon also showcases people of colour, which as a Moroccan is very important to me. Neon Moon’s British lingerie ensures the woman creates the shape of the garment and not the other way around!
As someone who is trying to create a healthy positive body image it must have shocked you when you found out about Project Harpoon and the fact that they had altered the images you had put on your website. What was your first thought upon discovering what they had done?
I had never been so shocked. As Neon Moon launched six months ago, being as feminist underwear brand you can probably imagine I’ve received my fair share of death threats and hate towards Neon Moon. But this was something different. This was not only a personal attack on Paulina, but also it went completely against Neon Moon’s values of not retouching our models, and therefore could have tarnished Neon Moon as a start-up brand. It wasn’t just words anymore, it had been the action of photoshopping my brands model and branding her a “depressed chub”. I found out through a supporter, Jade, tweeting me that she had recognised Neon Moon’s model. So at that point it was a fight or flight situation. So I think you know, as the Founder and CEO of Neon Moon feminist lingerie brand, exactly what I’m going to do – I’m going to get revenge on those vile trolls, and let everyone know exactly what they did.
How did you go about fighting back against Project Harpoon and their supporters?
I got Neon Moon supporters on all of our social media platforms, to report not only their disgusting facebook page that had been around for years, but also Neon Moon’s picture that they had been photoshopped. Neon Moon supporters are a force to be reckoned with. They got hundreds of retweets for me asking people to report Project Harpoon, and thousands of reports to their page. Not only did Facebook remove Neon Moon’s photo directly, but Neon Moon supporters got Project Harpoon’s social media pages removed. I couldn’t have done it by myself, and I really appreciate everyone getting involved.
Did you find Facebook to be particularly helpful in this situation or did you find yourself having to really fight to be listened to as people have described in the past?
Definitely not. They were more of a hindrance than anything else. They wouldn’t remove Neon Moon’s photo on the grounds of hate speech, and a number of supporters sent me screenshots of their reports being unsuccessful. Facebook only removed the retouched photo of our model based on infringement of Neon Moon Ltds copyright. What message are they sending to other body shamers, as the biggest social media platform in the world? Brands have more leverage than people to facebook, and I think that’s morally wrong.
Were you surprised at all by the amount of media attention your fight against Project Harpoon received?
Genuinely surprised. Project Harpoon has been around for years, but the fact that Neon Moon reacted made our fight-back go viral! Some people are annoyed with me, and say that in hindsight I’ve given them press, but this is what I say to them: there was no way I was going to just put up with them photoshopping Neon Moon’s model and not react. It is well within my right to not only get Neon Moon’s photoshopped photo removed, but to then get revenge and get their pages removed. Neon Moon and Neon Moon supporters are not to be messed with. Funnily enough so much good has come out of something so fat-shaming and disgusting. So many more people know about Neon Moon now, as a feminist lingerie brand with guts and an amazing message to all, and I am so humbled by the support! I honestly didn’t expect Neon Moon’s involvement with Project Harpoon to go viral. I had to stand up for my brand, and honestly if the press find it worthy enough to talk about well, it’s beyond my control!
I believe I saw on your Facebook page that one of the results of Project Harpoon and the subsequent attention you received is that you have had a large number of women expressing an interest to model for you, is this correct and if so can we expect a whole new range of Neon Moon photo shoots?
So many women affiliate with Neon Moon and I have been overwhelmed with people wanting to model for my brand, and I am extremely humbled. They see it as a personal fightback towards Project Harpoon, and they’re basically sending a message to society that they are happy and healthy, and by modelling for Neon Moon, they are giving a metaphorical middle-finger to society. Neon Moon supporters have also got in touch with amazing ideas for the brand, and as I only work off feedback for Neon Moon, it is literally an ongoing dialogue. I have so many amazing ideas for the future, so stay tuned!
Neon moon continues to be one of the most refreshing brands in the UK market to date, and has some amazing plans lined up for the future.