By Lynn Cadet

Recently, Pinterest decided to exterminate body shaming by becoming the first social media platform to ban weight-loss ads for good. You will see the typical pins with healthy eating and exercise tips. But, the harmful ads that promote before-and-after imagery and dangerous weight loss practices will be removed from the platform. See you later, hater!

Certainly, I applaud Pinterest for taking this initiative because weight stigma is REAL in our society. And it seems to be quite a lucrative business with many people falling for their ploys. 

Although we have progressed in recent years, body-shaming still has relevance in our societies, as seen in  these ads. It has been ingrained in our minds that the only way to look good and be happy is to be thin. A lack of inclusivity for all body types causes serious harm to people who don’t fit into the “desired” body category. We should embrace all body types because most of us do not look like what the media market to us. 

Hopefully, other social platforms will follow suit. Let’s explore why this move is a positive one and how it exposes the dark reality of quick weight-loss fixes.

Promoting Body Positivity

Opening your social media feed and seeing it riddled in weight-loss ads can be triggering for many people. Living in a reality where you face weight discrimination and seeing these ads or body-shaming comments can destroy your mental health. Social platforms must do a better job at accepting all their users because we don’t all fit into the same mould. We shouldn’t have to push ourselves past our limits to fit into what looks “best”. Diversity said hello.

Pinterest has done a great job showcasing this principle and listening to its users, making its platform more inclusive. This year, pinners have searched for “body neutrality” and “stop body-shaming quotes” five times more than the year before. They took the initiative to repair this issue. Body positivity should always be placed at the forefront over idealising fitting into the smallest bikini one could find. It’s just not realistic. 

Studies show that body-shaming does not encourage weight loss but actually makes people gain more. It is also linked to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and exercise avoidance. There is no positive in body shaming. So why do it? If someone doesn’t fit your desired look, it has nothing to do with you and should be no one’s business but theirs.

Combatting Unhealthy Weight Loss Practices

Eating healthily and getting the right amount of exercise are important to the quality of life. However, weight-loss ads push a more dangerous narrative. Losing weight is a process tailored to individuality. It is definitely not as simple as these ads make them seem. There is no magical way to shed ten pounds in a week through intermittent fasting or a bottle of “fairy” pills. Many of us love quick fixes, but most of the time, they don’t work. 

Everyone has different  body systems, and losing weight can be based on hormones, coping mechanisms, and even mental struggles. Unhealthy weight loss practices only lead to short-term success and cause us to gain even more weight down the line. Most weight loss pills give false expectations while not urging you to make any lifestyle changes. And diets only foster a restrictive, controlling relationship with food with no lasting benefits.

If you’re looking to slim down, your best bet is to speak with your healthcare professional about options that would work for you (emphasising the “you” here). The focus should be on establishing healthy habits that are realistic and can be maintained long-term. Don’t let these shady businesses trick you into following the masses. Although it may take longer, it is 100% better for your health to lose weight the right way.

Pinterest has done its users a service by banning these ads. It is protecting its users by displaying content that encourages beneficial nutritional journeys that don’t enable disordered eating, self-injury, or low self-esteem. They even thought of the little things by redirecting users who search for potentially harmful results to expert organisations, like National Eating Disorders Association, for factual and helpful resources and advice. You will still see pins here and there promoting less than appropriate practices, but that is because Pinterest has only banned paid advertisements.

I’m honestly proud to call Pinterest my favourite social media app. It has helped a community feel safer on a social platform and revealed how much Pinterest cares about its user experience. 

Man, I didn’t think I could love Pinterest more than I already do. Kudos!