Pinterest amends wording around weight loss ad policy following enquiry from Campaign

Pinterest: ads using weight loss language and imagery banned
Pinterest: ads using weight loss language and imagery banned

A positive change in its ad policy was promoted with confused messaging.

Pinterest has amended the campaign assets created to launch the new weight loss ad policy it unveiled yesterday, following an enquiry from Campaign.

The policy will prohibit all ads with weight loss language and imagery. 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. 

To promote the update, the picture sharing social network created imagery that said "Body neutrality is the new body positivity". 

But as the author of Fattily Ever After, Stephanie Yeboah, pointed out in an article for Vogue in May, body positivity was a movement spearheaded by fat, black and ethnic minority women that "primarily focuses on the celebration and radical self-love of visibly fat bodies".

Body positivity is also used by the disabled community and continues to be a way of creating space for marganisled groups.

“The problem with 'body neutrality' is that it wants people to accept their bodies for their 'abilities and non-physical characteristics', which sounds great in theory and removing our value from our appearance is a lovely aim, but it is asking people in marginalised groups an awful lot – we don't have body neutrality and it removes our defining characteristics,” Victoria Jenkins, disability advocate and founder of adaptive clothing brand Unhidden Clothing, said.

She added: “It sounds like something cooked up by non-disabled people/cis white people trying to make themselves feel less guilty/uncomfortable when a phrase they have learned they can't use but want to has been taken away.

"So language and terminology is important, because this sounds like erasing some pretty important characteristics as if they don't matter; are not the worth of the person in an 'all lives matter' way. But it's not a reflection of the world we live in – and, particularly, for people with less 'traditional' bodies and disabilities, asking them to celebrate the parts of themselves that have caused trauma and pain, or to ignore them and celebrate what isn't, is a problem."

Campaign contacted Pinterest about the choice of terminology before it went public, and following this, the picture-sharing social network amended its imagery. 

The new image reads "Body acceptance is the new trend", though Pinterest said this also reflects its championing of "body neutrality" as an emerging search trend.

According to Pinterest, users searching the term "body neutrality," and "stop body-shaming quotes" are up five times since last year, with searches for "healthy mindset quotes" 13 times more popular in May 2021 than in May 2020. 

Pinterest gave this comment: "We know that people come to Pinterest to find inspiration to be themselves, so it's no surprise to see that searches for 'body positivity' continue to consistently trend on the platform. We're now also seeing an increase of searches related to the emerging trend of 'body neutrality'.

"At Pinterest we're committed to building a more positive internet, and a place where everyone feels represented and celebrated. Today's updated ad policy, which sees all weight loss imagery and language banned from ads on the platform, is an important next step in prioritising the wellbeing of our Pinners."

Pinterest will also be blocking all searches for keywords on the platform related to eating disorders or terms suggesting a restrictive mindset, and is offering a variety of emotional well-being activities developed by emotional health experts.

The ad policy was developed with advice from the National Eating Disorder Association, with the creative handled in-house.

Commenting on the subject of brands being body inclusive, Sharon Jiggins, chief marketing officer, FCB Inferno, said: "Being more inclusive and diverse in your communications increases your appeal to more people. Speaking bluntly, it makes business sense. And that applies to whether you are an advertiser, media channel or social platform.

"That's why any advancement in reducing and, indeed, removing the tropes and stereotypes that limit your audience, or at [their] worst can have a negative impact on anyone's confidence and self-worth, is such a good thing. If this makes brands conscientious over the images they select and the language they choose, it will result in moving the conversation on to the much more positive and inspiring space of health and well-being."

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