MILWAUKIE, Ore. -- A Milwaukie woman who writes a blog about body acceptance wants to know why an online diet company is using a photo of her in a bikini without her permission.
Rachele Cateyes told KGW she posted the photo of herself in a bikini on her blog, to send a message about having a positive self-image.
“I wanted to show that all bodies can wear a bikini on the beach and have a beach body,” she said.
Her husband took the photo on the beach. She said she felt glorious and glamorous about posting it to her blog, and didn’t have a care in the world. Until that photo was hijacked by an online diet company.
Her followers tipped her off. “They said, 'Is this you? Why are you on this, is this you?'”
The diet company was using the photo as the “before” in its “before and after” pictorial. She contacted KGW's Unit 8 to help get that photo taken off the diet website. Thousands of followers from Cateyes' popular "Nearsighted Owl" blog have joined her fight.
Cateyes contacted the company she thought was responsible for using the photo. She identified it as a diet company called Venus Factor which sells an online diet program.
Unit 8 called the company several times and got a recorded message each time. We also emailed the company and got no response. Because these individuals, or affiliates, as they’re called, are subcontractors, finding who is responsible is tough.
Cateyes also sent a Facebook message to the company, stating, “These photos were stolen from me and are being used to sell your product, I would like your help in having them removed.”
The response she received stated, “We have no control over it. You need to contact the people who specifically put this on his website.”
“You cannot steal someone else's property. You cannot take their picture and make a profit off of it," said technology expert Brian Westbrook. "Really, whether you profit or not, it's illegal to download photos off the Internet and use them in any sort of way other than what the original composer of that picture intended.”
And what Cateyes intended is what this is about. She said she’s proud of her body and proud of the photo.
But using her image to promote a diet plan goes against everything she stands for.
“Using me to represent basically, 'This is what you don't want to look like, don't be like her, her body's bad,'” she explained.
Her blog followers are now emailing and reporting the misrepresentation by the thousands. They also emailed the company, requesting that the photo be taken down. And it appears to be working. The ads that remain online with Cateyes' photo no longer link to the diet company’s website.