Pinterest has just become the first major social media platform to ban all weight loss advertisements. The platform’s advertising policies already prohibited body-shaming content and content featuring dangerous weight loss products or claims — but now the platform is taking that a big step further and will no longer allow any advertisements that “discuss weight loss, reference BMI, or show before-and-after imagery or imagery that idealizes certain body types and features,” according to head of content Aya Kanai.
This new policy is an expansion of Pinterest’s Creator Code, its mandatory guidelines for all users. And, as Kanai explains, it aims to make the platform an even more positive and inclusive space. “As our base continues to grow, we are always evaluating how we can continue to maintain the platform’s positivity and inclusivity — advertisements that promote weight loss or idealize certain body types can be harmful triggers, so this new ban helps us to ensure that Pinners of all body types feel at home when they’re on Pinterest,” she says.
Kanai believes this is one of the (if not the) strictest policies regarding weight loss among digital platforms. Facebook, for instance, has “health and fitness” advertising policies that ban side-by-side, before-and-after photos and images that show only specific body parts instead of the entire body. TikTok prohibits advertisements for weight loss supplements and fasting apps, among other weight-loss-related ads. Twitter, by contrast, does not have any advertising policies specifically geared toward weight loss, dieting, or fitness.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t see any weight loss content on Pinterest — the platform is only banning weight-loss content that serves as a paid advertisement. “Pinners will continue to be able to search for inspiration on healthy eating and exercise tips to support them on whichever fitness or nutrition journey they choose,” explains Kanai. Weight loss content that encourages disordered eating or self-injury of any kind is prohibited based on its community guidelines. “Whenever Pinners search for keywords related to eating disorders, we block search results and direct them to expert organizations, like National Eating Disorders Association, so they can find additional resources,” she says.
It should be noted that the messages of toxic diet culture often lie beneath much of the internet’s “healthy” fitness and nutrition advice, products, and services mentioned above. Not all of it is bad, but one has to consider that an overwhelming amount of that content relies on the idea that thin bodies are best, and that you can and should push yourself past your limits to have one. Banning weight-loss ads and content that promotes disordered eating is an amazing start, but there’s plenty of work left to be done by social media platforms to improve its users’ body images.
Given Pinterest’s latest search data, more guidelines like these are exactly what its users want and need. As the platform revealed to Allure, searches for “healthy mindset quotes” are up 13 times more since last year. Users are searching for “body neutrality” and “stop body-shaming quotes” five times more than last year. Furthermore, searches for body acceptance quotes have increased by seven times and “self-love illustration art” has increased by 63 times.
It makes a whole lot of sense, after all. Everyone wants to feel comfortable and supported in their own body, and advertisements that enforce unhealthy diets or rapid/dramatic weight loss can make many people feel inferior. The only question now is: How many other platforms want to follow Pinterest’s lead?
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