Instagram’s Restriction Of Diet Product Posting Is Revolutionary, But…
The only detox we need is from the perpetuation of diet culture on the ‘gram.
This week, Instagram took a step forward for women everywhere by restricting influencers from posting about diet products and plastic surgery.
Under the new policy, posts promoting a weight loss product or cosmetic surgery that are accompanied by a monetary value will be blocked from users under the age of 18-years-old. Any content making a miraculous weight-loss claim will be banned from all viewers.
And it’s about bloody time.
If you’ve spent more than two minutes on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve encountered an influencer promoting some kind of detox or skinny tea, promising an instant flat belly by virtue of the beverage alone.
‘Get-skinny-quick’ schemes are disguised as ‘health-promoting’ teas, powders or procedures – because the only way to be healthy is to have abs and a flat tummy, right?.
Under Instagram’s new community guidelines, underage users will be prevented from seeing posts about diet products and plastic surgery – which is âmazing, don’t get me wrong – but what about the rest of us?
It’s so important that big companies make moves like this to protect young and vulnerable girls and I applaud Instagram for making such a move, but to me, it almost doesn’t feel like enough.
I’ve almost bought flat-tummy tea and diet pills more times than I can count. The first time I loaded it into my cart was when I was 15 and I know women who tried it out much younger than that.
There is no ethics to this kind of social media marketing. In fact, it’s a cruel attack on women and their bodies.
We cut the legs out from under women with every ad we show them, telling them they need to be smaller every time they scroll through their Instagram feeds. Companies then prey on their vulnerability and take money for women while they actively destroy self-esteem, self-love and self-confidence.
Yes, Instagram actively putting an end to this kind of advertising creates a safer space for women to interact online.
Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief for not having to listen to an influencer tell us that by drinking a certain tea we will drop 10 pounds overnight. Let’s all be excited that we don’t have to exit the app feeling gutted and miserable about our bodies.
I’d like us to take a moment here to rejoice at this massive step forward for the body positivity movement. At long last, we have a major company looking out for the interest of women instead of taking money from us.
Well, kind of.
Now I hate to bring down the mood, but I’m going to.
We shouldn’t be in a position where we praise Instagram for doing this because it should have been done in the first place.
Women shouldn’t have had to spend the last five years being bombarded by famous people telling us we aren’t good enough the way we are, and we certainly shouldn’t have had to deal with the diet culture that has been thrown in our faces each and every day.
While there is no doubt this an amazing thing for women, Instagram continues to censor our bodies for being ‘graphic’ and ‘undesirable’ in other ways.
Sure, they aren’t selling us diet pills anymore but they are still telling women they violate community guidelines if they don’t conform to normalized beauty standards.
Women with self-harm scars can’t post photos on Instagram without being censored and now, neither can women with skin conditions.
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So Facebook finally responded to the #undesirablesofinstagram post after a journalist from @verge contacted them. 3.5 weeks after I tried to promote an image of my face, 11 days after they told me that my naked face was ‘undesirable’, and 10 days after I wrote a blog post detailing the many ways in which Instagram have been targeting the skin positivity community, this was their considered response: “I looked into it and this ad was rejected in error and we are sorry for the mistake. It’s now up and running.” Their response is deliberately obtuse and absolutely infuriating. Their OWN GUIDELINES list the things they consider ‘undesirable’ and skin conditions are one of them. That’s not an error. That’s deliberate cruelty. The #undesirablesofinstagram campaign was never about the ad. That was just a tangible symptom of their awful and discriminatory behaviour. Not only have they completely glossed over the fact that they referred to skin conditions as ‘undesirable’ but they are point blank refusing to comment on their wider disregard and targeting of the skin positivity community, even when confronted with proof. Describing people’s appearance as ‘undesirable’ is WRONG, controlling what people see online based on outdated beauty standards is WRONG. All we wanted was for the guidelines to be changed to reflect this. (And the ad never did go live. It’s almost as though they’ll say anything to try to make this go away, instead of just doing the right thing 🤷🏼♀️) 📸 By the incredible @sophieharristaylor #normalizeskintexture #skinpositivity #sundaymorningview
Just this week, a Lex Gillies posted a portrait that highlighted her rosacea in an attempt to raise awareness around the skin condition before it was removed for being ‘undesirable’.
So while it’s amazing that Instagram is working to dismantle toxic diet culture, it’s not enough.
Influencers, Instagram and individuals all need to do better to protect women.
Our bodies are not mines that corporations can pick for money.
Our insecurities are not a declaration of open season for criticism that will cripple us into succumbing to diet pills and weight-loss teas.
Our bodies are our homes.
So yes, this is an amazing step forward and we should celebrate this breakthrough for the body positivity movement but we can’t get distracted.
Our fight is not over yet.
The body positivity movement won’t win until it’s intersectional. When all women are free from body censorship and can show scars and skin freely, then I will applaud Instagram.
Until then, we keep fighting.
Featured image via unsplash.com.
Join the discussion: What are your thoughts on Instagram’s censoring of weight loss promotion products and people with skin conditions?