Sick of being bombarded with dubious body-shaming ads while on Pinterest? Well, now you can browse in peace because the social media site has finally taken action against clickbaity weight loss ads.
Ever scrolled through Pinterest looking for healthy dinner inspo, only to be bombarded with banners promising to “shrink your waist in three days”? Well, that’s now going to be a thing of the past as the platform has just become the first social media company to ban weight loss adverts outright.
The mood board-esque site has also started to clamp down on body-shaming by banning language and imagery that could be seen to idolise or belittle certain body types.
The move comes after new research by OnePoll found that over 40% of Brits feel the pressure to be “summer body-ready,” rising to almost 80% when taking just Gen Z into account.
In a statement, the company noted that there’s been a “steep rise in unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders in young people since the Covid-19 pandemic started last year.” That might go some way to explaining why Pinterest’s own data shows that searches for “body neutrality” are up 500%, with things like “stop body-shaming language” and “body acceptance quotes” also climbing up the search ladder.
The new policy has been developed in partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association in the US.
Hannah Lewin, a PT who works exclusively with women and has plenty of experience of working with disordered eating tells Stylist: “I think Pinterest are taking a very body stance here – they ultimately makes considerable revenue from weight loss adverts and deciding to ban all potentially harmful advertising content in order to product their users is such a vital step.
“They’re basically saying, ‘We are more about our users than revenue,’ which, in turn, may actually increase their users.”
As for other social media platforms, Lewin says that she believes they’ll be forced to evaluate their own income sources. “Other companies will surely have to follow in taking a stand against advertising that is often harmful and full of false, misleading claims.
“I look forward to seeing who follows next.”
From now on, you won’t see the following on Pinterest:
- Any references to BMI or other similar scales
- Weight loss language or imagery
- Weight loss product testimonials
- Products that claim to offer weight loss “benefits” by being worn or applied topically
You will still see adverts that promote fitness services or products and healthy lifestyle but they won’t be able to equate weight loss with health – which for many will be a breath of fresh air.
It’s worth pointing out, however, that this move doesn’t monitor what individual users post. People can still post and pin images that aren’t body positive but you won’t be able to search for keywords relating to eating disorders (a function that’s been around on the platform for a while).
When we searched for “weight loss” today, the second row of pins threw up posts like “Fat burning drinks before bed to lose 10 pounds in one week”, a book on “hypnosis for weight loss” and a “Brilliant ways to get skinny in a week” exercise guide. The latter came from YouTube and, on clicking, hundreds of other weight loss challenges came up.
Clearly, the platform has a long way to go but it’s interesting nonetheless that they’re making an attempt to crack down on dangerous advertising.
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Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.