An online campaign that urged women to embrace “managed anorexia” pitted R&B star Rihanna against the globally despised author of the “size 0″ effort.
“Girls are dying all over the world because of ignorant individuals like this Kenneth Tong,” Rihanna tweeted in response to Tong’s string of tweets urging people to starve themselves to become fashionably thin.
The dustup quickly made Tong an infamous Twitter sensation and he drummed up nearly 23,000 followers in a snap.
The whole thing was a publicity-seeking hoax.
“It came about after an interesting discussion I had with a friend of mine,” Tong said in an online post this week. “The discussion centered round whether it was possible, to go from nowhere to be a globally recognized figure within a week harnessing the power of the Internet and specifically Twitter, which I have always maintained is a better medium than national TV. My friend said it wasn’t possible. I said it was.”
Tong, a Hong Kong native now living in the U.K., was right. In a slew of mean-spirited tweets he urged people to embrace the life-threatening eating disorder with messages like, “To be thinner, skip dinner. Anorexia is not evil, it is an oft mismanaged blessing.”
In one tweet he posted a photo of a young woman whom he had supposedly counseled to a size-0 frame, boasting that because of her slender physique she had spent the night with the artist Drake.
Rihanna’s irate response to his messages, “This is exactly why girls are doing everything to destroy their bodies!” quickly became a top tweet.
This week, after becoming the man tweeters loved to hate, Tong fessed up.
“I chose the subject as a hoax as I knew it’d be appalling to men and women,” he said in his post. “The campaign has worked; I have been a trending topic on Twitter for over a week.”
The 25-year-old fame seeker, who has appeared on reality television, also said he has a slew of media appearances scheduled, and apologized.
“My honest personal opinion on managed anorexia is it is an disgusting and illogical idea,” he said. “To all the people I have offended as part of this scientific experiment, I would like to apologize.”
He said he’ll contribute to an eating-disorders charity as a way to atone.
It doesn’t look like Rihanna has responded to the online confession. Her last tweet on the matter was a few days before Tong came clean: Young ladies, love yourself! Your skin, your booty, your hair… You’re all beautiful! Keep your hearts pure! Love and laugh, and live life.”
- Jennifer Brett, The Buzz, firstname.lastname@example.org