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Plus-size influencers are receiving paid offers to try weight-loss drugs: ‘I don’t want Ozempic’

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Plus-size influencers are receiving paid offers to try weight-loss drugs: 'I don’t want Ozempic'

Virgie Tovar is a fat activist. She’s advocated for body diversity for over a decade, written books that include You Have the Right to Remain Fat and spoken out against weight-based discrimination. But in 2023, she started receiving emails about business opportunities that don’t align with her work’s mission. These messages were pitching partnerships with clinics providing weight-loss drugs and offering Tovar money to go on a weight-loss journey.

“It didn’t even start to register as a phenomenon. I thought it was just spam,” Tovar tells Yahoo Life of receiving the first few Ozempic-related offers last year. “I deleted probably four or five before I started to realize that this is like a deluge.”

This Tuesday, Tovar decided to speak out about the messages she had been receiving by posting a simple message to her Instagram feed. In her post, she holds up a piece of paper that reads: “I don’t want Ozempic.”

“Throughout 2023 and now in 2024 I have been offered free Ozempic for weight loss by influencer marketing companies and others,” she wrote in the post’s caption. “I know I’m not the only one.”

Ahead, Tovar and other plus-size influencers share how stakeholders in the weight-loss drug boom have reached out to them — and why they’re resisting.

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Where influencer marketing and weight-loss drugs come together

Sarah Chiwaya, a plus-size blogger and consultant, is no stranger to receiving pitches for partnerships around diet and weight loss. She tells Yahoo Life that she’s been messaged by agencies touting related products or programs for years. She’s noticed an even larger push for modern GLP-1 medications and the hoopla surrounding them.

“I got the first paid semaglutide [the active ingredient in medications like Ozempic and Wegovy] partnership offer in September 2023 from a marketing company called Patient Acquisition, and I’ve received multiple a month from various agencies ever since,” she says, noting that several offers might arrive in her inbox in a single day.

Posting to her Instagram Stories on Jan. 22, Ash Pryor, a plus-size Peloton instructor, shared a screenshot of an email that she had received with an offer of the same nature. “Would you be interested in a $1,500 FREE service for semaglutide/tirzepatide weight-loss treatment in exchange for up to two reels and two stories per month?” the email, whose sender she omitted, read. “F*** all the way off!” Pryor wrote on the post.

Tovar showed Yahoo Life a total of five emails from a marketing assistant at Patient Acquisition. While the wording differs across a few of the messages, they each include an offer for a free weight-loss service in exchange for content. The highest value offer Tovar received was $2,000.

“We help wellness clinics find local creators just like you!” reads one email dated Oct. 3, 2023. “They really just want to find active profiles like yours, who are open to sharing their wellness journey with their followers and documenting the process.”

Although semaglutide and tirzepatide aren’t named in the initial emails from Patient Acquisition, the agency’s Instagram account displays videos from creators who have partnered with the brand to share their weight-loss journeys on either of the medications. Yahoo Life reached out to a few of those creators and hasn’t heard back.

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Daniel Walton, the agency’s founder, tells Yahoo Life that there was a unique opportunity to lean into influencer marketing as the drugs became more popular.

“Pretty much every [wellness or aesthetics clinic] is trying to offer weight loss now. It’s like the hottest thing that’s hit the internet. So once all these celebrities kind of went public with getting on Ozempic, it just really blew up in the last like 13, 14 months,” he says.

The biggest issue, according to Walton, is that people interested in taking weight-loss medications don’t know how to get access to them and might even end up at clinics that are “cutting corners” or not providing proper dosages. Patient Acquisition aims to work with “legit providers that have good sources, good doctors and that are providing safe medication,” he says. “That’s kind of the whole purpose with the influencer marketing, is to make people aware that it’s a safe solution.”

And according to him, the agency is looking at creators whose brands align with these types of campaigns.

“These influencers have oftentimes considered the medication or they’re on the medication, so we’re just getting them to go public,” he says. “We really want campaign alignment, and overall influencer alignment with people who would either benefit from the weight loss or one of the other [aesthetic] services.”

While Tovar has received numerous emails from this agency — and others, like Aspire, which is working with Ro Body Program: Ozempic & Wegovy — she sees no alignment.

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“I don’t cover weight loss. I cover weight discrimination,” she says. “That’s where it starts to feel a little bit like targeting.”

Why size-inclusive activists are speaking out

The push of weight-loss medications toward those who are outspoken about body diversity and inclusion is the latest attempt to undermine the work that they have put into the body positivity movement for so many years, according to plus-size male model Zach Miko.

While he has yet to receive offers for weight-loss drugs, he tells Yahoo Life that he’s been presented with “fully compensated” fat removal procedures in the past. He’s not surprised by the recent propositions being sent to his peers.

“I find that these companies are targeting the people most outspoken about body acceptance in hopes of converting or silencing us. These offers are attempting to undo decades of work, growth and self-love,” says Miko. “The weight-loss industry is a multibillion-dollar industry that will go belly up if people love themselves.”

Tovar shares a similar perspective.

“It just feels [the weight-loss industry] is like, by any means necessary, we are going to change your body, we are going to take the money out of your pocket or we’re gonna pay you to do it,” she says. “It speaks to the fact that there’s this fundamental belief that there’s no world in which I don’t want to be thin.”

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Most importantly, activists like Tovar want people to know that they maintain the right to exist in their bodies in whatever way they want, even among the mass promotion of options that comply with the thin ideal.

“Right now, it feels like there’s no dissenting voice in this conversation. And so I think what I’m just hoping for is that there’s just someone who’s holding it down,” says Tovar of continuing to be a voice for body diversity. “I’m thinking of the people who really are tired of living with feeling like they have to take drugs or live their entire life in order to become a thin person. Whatever we can do to remind them that, yes, there are still people who, even with [the existence of] Ozempic, still believe in body diversity and still believe in the right that people have to not live with food restriction and mandated medication because of fatphobia.”



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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

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This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

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“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

Instagram’s testing out some new options to help spice up your live-streams in the app, with some live broadcasters now able to select a game that they can play with viewers in-stream.

As you can see in these example screens, posted by Ahmed Ghanem, some creators now have the option to play either “This or That”, a question and answer prompt that you can share with your viewers, or “Trivia”, to generate more engagement within your IG live-streams.

That could be a simple way to spark more conversation and interaction, which could then lead into further engagement opportunities from your live audience.

Meta’s been exploring more ways to make live-streaming a bigger consideration for IG creators, with a view to live-streams potentially catching on with more users.

That includes the gradual expansion of its “Stars” live-stream donation program, giving more creators in more regions a means to accept donations from live-stream viewers, while back in December, Instagram also added some new options to make it easier to go live using third-party tools via desktop PCs.

Live streaming has been a major shift in China, where shopping live-streams, in particular, have led to massive opportunities for streaming platforms. They haven’t caught on in the same way in Western regions, but as TikTok and YouTube look to push live-stream adoption, there is still a chance that they will become a much bigger element in future.

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Which is why IG is also trying to stay in touch, and add more ways for its creators to engage via streams. Live-stream games is another element within this, which could make this a better community-building, and potentially sales-driving option.

We’ve asked Instagram for more information on this test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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