Pure Gym has been criticised for posting a tweet on Boxing Day asking people to calculate what "damage" they had done "after pigging out" on Christmas Day using its calorie counter. The tweet was deleted shortly after BuzzFeed News contacted the fitness chain.
Many people were not happy with the wording and said the company should be "ashamed".
Others said the language in the post could be harmful to people who have eating disorders. Harriet Fairclough told BuzzFeed News the tweet "was poorly worded and poorly timed". "It’s obvious they just wanted a few more sign-ups by guilting people, which is cruel," she said.
The 20-year-old from Bournemouth said: "I know a large number of people who struggle with restrictive disorders who see Christmas as a challenge and are often very proud of themselves for managing any amount of food.
"I cannot imagine how it must feel to be proud of yourself for not listening to the voice of your eating disorder and then see the Pure Gym tweet, which would validate those negative thoughts and could potentially ruin an already challenging day and maybe even trigger a relapse."
Chloe Elliott, a plus-size blogger from Dorset, told BuzzFeed News: "The tweet was clearly a desperate marketing tactic to make people feel guilty for eating Christmas dinner. Nobody should feel guilty for eating; even insinuating that they should is a toxic ideology."
Elliot, 27, said: "I myself have struggled with my weight and have gone through periods of restricted eating. Tweets like that encourage restricted eating, and make people feel like they cannot enjoy themselves without knowing that there are consequences.
"Eating is normal – it shouldn’t be made into a shaming tactic to encourage people to go to the gym. This tweet was likely extremely triggering for anyone with an ED, or going through restricted eating, and on seeing a tweet like this those feelings of wanting to restrict can easily seep in."
A spokesperson for Pure Gym told BuzzFeed News: “Pure Gym believes in promoting a fit and healthy lifestyle and uses its social media channels to share tips and inspiration with its members and followers. The post in question was part of a series of light-hearted messages shared over the Christmas period.
"While not intentional, we agree that the language used was not appropriate or reflective of our company values. We have removed the post from our channels and apologise for any offence caused.”
If you need information on eating disorders or want to talk, you can call Beat on 0808 801 0677 (3pm–10pm) if you’re in the UK.
Victoria Sanusi is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Victoria Sanusi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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