Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Letter to Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC USA re: Tanya Murphy

Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

April 11, 2014

Dear Mr Wheeler,

My name is Amy Cunningham. I am a public health professional, and a mother of a 12 year old child in recovery from anorexia, a serious eating disorder.   I am writing to ask for your assistance in making the internet a safer place for our children.  I am part of a global group of mothers and other concerned citizens fighting eating disorders on many fronts. We are currently actively addressing issues in the regulatory frameworks and media that affect people at risk of developing an eating disorder or in recovery.  

In the past several years there is a proliferation of 'channels' and 'personalities' using specific media to communicate to their followers including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and more.  Through the use of the media and related advertising partner programs they receive payment.  Subsequently many also peddle books and appearances.  What they promote are 'lifestyles' that involve fruit only or raw food diets.   Through these largely unregulated channels they reach out to and dispense information to young children, adolescents and people at risk of or in an eating disorder.  This is extremely dangerous.   

In one case recently a woman called TannyRaw on Youtube and instagram advised a girl to stop her treatment for anorexia and ignore medical advice! This young girl spent almost a year in inpatient treatment for anorexia.  Ms. TannyRaw knew this. This is one of many MANY cases we are attempting to address.  Another case of Freelee the Banana Girl, based out of Australia, over 2 million people have viewed some of her videos.  She uses 'fat shaming' and other approaches to keep and maintain her 'clients'.   Neither of them will communicate with us.   They are NOT health professionals yet are marketing health advice to extremely vulnerable people with eating disorders.  

As you likely are aware, eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and others are serious psychological illnesses - with up to 10 percent mortality - the highest mortality of all mental illnesses. We also know that they have a genetic and biologic basis, but that environmental triggers can facilitate development and inhibit recovery.  There are several bills in the US Congress right now including the Truth in Advertising Act that should help address some of the 'triggers' by regulating use of photo-shopping and size of models. 

We would like your advice on these marketing self promoters.  How can they be regulated?  For example, YouTube videos promoting such unhealthy diets should  have a disclaimer "Not Appropriate for children, adolescents or those suffering from eating disorders".  

Is there currently ANY way to regulate these groups?  They are a huge danger to people already fighting for their lives.  

We would greatly appreciate your advice and support.   We are happy to provide more information as needed.  Below are several of the links to some of the most egregious videos.  There are many more – as well as the many comments from the sponsors giving health advice.

Youtube Video TannyRaw promoting an all fruit diet to a girl with anorexia.

YouTube Video Freelee Banana Girl promoting Thigh Gap.  Also check her many other hundreds of videos. 


Amy Cunningham

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