Pinterest completes their list of already banned weight loss related ads as National Eating Disorders Association’s data shows a steep rise in unhealthy eating patterns during the pandemic and Pinners embrace radical self-acceptance.

National Eating Disorders Association helpline has reported they experienced a 40% increase in call volume in 2020 that were related to mental health and eating disorder struggles compared to the year before. In light of that data combined with more recent trends on Pinterest, the platform has updated its policies, prohibiting all ads related to weight loss imagery and language.

As explained by Pinterest:

“As our community of Pinners grows, so do searches for topics like healthy eating, healthy lifestyle and fitness tips. We’ll continue providing useful and relevant content for those searching for it while prohibiting content that displays, rationalizes or encourages eating disorders and other types of self-injury.  For example, whenever Pinners search for keywords related to eating disorders, we block search results and direct them to expert organizations, like NEDA, so they can find additional resources. Pinterest also offers a variety of emotional well-being activities developed by emotional health experts, accessible directly within our mobile app and website. Pinners can simply search for “#pinterestwellbeing” to explore gratitude and self-compassion exercises, along with other interactive practices that can help improve their mood.“

Pinterest had already banned ads that featured any of the following:

  • Weight loss or appetite suppressant pills, supplements, or other products;
  • Before-and-after weight-loss imagery;
  • Weight loss procedures like liposuction or fat burning;
  • Body shaming, such as imagery or language that mocks or discredits certain body types or appearances; and
  • Claims regarding unrealistic cosmetic results

The new policy, prohibiting all weight loss related ads now also includes:

  • Any weight loss language or imagery;
  • Any testimonials regarding weight loss or weight loss products;
  • Any language or imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types;
  • Referencing Body Mass Index (BMI) or similar indexes; and
  • Any products that claim weight loss through something worn or applied to the skin

Pinterest adds that ads promoting healthy lifestyles and habits, like fitness products and services, will still be allowed as long as they don’t promote weight loss. This is an important adaptation as many young people were cut off from their normal routines and hobbies during the pandemic that might have been their main opportunity for healthy exercise. Now, those same young people are experiencing the pressure of having to return to their social circles after almost 15 months of being away or distanced, and many experience heightened body image related insecurities.

Elizabeth Thompson, Interim CEO for the National Eating Disorders Association said:

“NEDA is encouraged by this necessary step in prioritizing the mental health and well-being of Pinners, especially those impacted by diet culture, body shaming, and eating disorders. We are hopeful this global policy will encourage other organizations and companies to reflect on potentially harmful ad messages and to establish their own working policies that will create meaningful change.”

The move makes sense for Pinterest, where most people hop on the platform to get inspired, find new ideas, and look for positivity. This has long been the unique quality of Pinterest, which is considered a positive place by over 90% of people. Pinterest has stated before about how positive online environments have a “halo effect” on the brands that show up there, which simply means people are more receptive, trusting, and positively positioned towards them.

Pinterest also showcased a trend in searches, which supports the radical self-acceptance movement of body-neutrality:

  • “Healthy mindset quotes” searches are up x13 from previous year,
  • “Body neutrality” and “stop body shaming quotes” are up 5x,
  • Body acceptance quotes are up 7x, and
  • “self-love illustration art” has increased 63x.

To bring more focus to the trend, Pinterest will be featuring Idea Pins from creators around the world on the Today Tab all week to showcase them “reimagining the relationship with their bodies.”

Pinterest has been stepping up as a fierce advocate for brand and consumer safety. Their efforts were recently recognized from brands’ side as TAG awarded Pinterest with a brand safety certificate, which required the platform to meet rigorous standards. Other Pinterest’s recent efforts in the realm include joining the Global Alliance for Responsible Media near the end of 2020, and launching a dedicated Brand Safety Hub that outlines the platform’s multi-year efforts to keep making Pinterest a safe place for brands.

To encourage others in the industry to join the movement towards brand and consumer safety, Pinterest is emphasizing the importance of appropriate policy-making by communicating their own timeline of action and commitment to future steps.

Retrieved from Pinterest Newsroom.

Similar trends of body-positivity and acceptance have been gaining momentum across social media platforms, making it impossible for brands to ignore the change in consumers’ mindsets. For businesses, this change presents an opportunity to take a hard look at their own current messages and join their audiences in focusing on the positive for once.

Read the full announcement of Pinterest’s new policy here.



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