According to the National Eating Disorders Association, there’s been a significant increase in unhealthy eating habits in the wake of COVID. With that in mind, Pinterest has moved to ban all weight loss language and images from its platform.
COVID kilos. Quarantine 15. Whatever you want to call the weight you may have put on during the pandemic, whether it due to stress or living a more sedentary lifestyle, diet culture has not only seized but weaponised the idea.
It’s been so prevalent that the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) in the US has noticed a steep rise in unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders in young people in the wake of COVID, and many are feeling added pressure to look a certain way when they rejoin their social circles.
In response, Pinterest has updated its policies to prohibit all ads with weight loss language and imagery This will include a ban advertiser content involving testimonials, imagery or language that idealises certain body types, referencing Body Mass Index, or any product that claims weight loss through something worn or applied topically.
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“The conversation around body image is always evolving,” says model and influencer Tabria Majors, who partnered with the platform.
“The body neutrality conversations that are happening now online are a great way to promote acceptance, but we still continue to see unsolicited messaging about our bodies.”
According to Pinterest, ads promoting healthy lifestyles and habits, or fitness services and products will still be allowed, as long as they don’t focus on weight loss.
Social media absolutely perpetuates toxic diet culture. Whether it be skinny teas that claim to give you a flat stomach with a side of dehydration and diarrhea, diet pills that will kill your appetite but give you heart palpitations, or ‘detox’ supplements that claim to do what your lungs, kidneys, and liver do automatically; there are lots of dangerous products out there that prey on our insecurities. That needs to stop. But we can talk about weight loss and health in a positive, non-toxic way, without fatphobia or judgement.
Here are some facts: It’s estimated 67 percent of Australians aged 18 and over were overweight, 31 percent of which are obese. Obesity worsens outcomes for those who contract COVID-19, as those that carry excess weight is linked to impaired immune function and decreases lung capacity making ventilation more difficult.
Outside of the pandemic, being overweight or obese increases the likelihood of developing many chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, back problems, chronic kidney disease, dementia, diabetes, and some cancers, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Of course, we all deserve to feel good about our bodies, regardless of what size we are, and there are negative health consequences with obesity. These aren’t mutually exclusive statements. Both, in fact, are true.
The move to eliminate toxic diet culture from social media is an admirable move by Pinterest, but it shouldn’t stop us from having rational, fact-based conversations about health and weight. With a medical professional, of course.