Pinterest says it’s all about body positivity as it bans weight loss ads

Discussion
Sources: Pinterest, Instagram
Jul 06, 2021

Pinterest has become the first major social network to ban all advertisements with weight loss language and imagery, including ads that idealize or denigrate certain body types, as the platform joins a broader body-positivity movement.

Ads with testimonials about weight loss or weight loss products as well as any referencing body mass index (BMI) will not be allowed.

The online image-sharing site said the changes, guided by the National Eating Disorders Association, comes amid growing concerns over eating disorders in young people aggravated by the pandemic.

“A lot of people are facing challenges related to body image and mental health, particularly as we’re emerging from COVID restrictions,” Sarah Bromma, Pinterest’s head of policy, told NPR. “People are now feeling added pressure to rejoin their social circles in person for the first time in a year.”

Pinterest’s users, whom the company refers to as pinners, will still be able to search for topics around weight-loss advice, healthy-eating tips and fitness products and services.

Pinterest in its earlier days faced criticism for pins promoting “thinspiration” or pro-anorexia content and has taken the lead among social platforms in restricting such content. Body shaming, before-and-after weight-loss imagery and weight loss procedures like liposuction had already faced bans.

In April of this year, Instagram and TikTok added resources for individuals affected by eating disorders.

The body positive movement, driven in recent years by social media influencers, has led to the increased use of plus-size models and varied body types in ad campaigns as well as more inclusive messaging. Aerie, CVS, Target and Dove have earned praise for stopping the use of airbrushing in ads.

The movement has faced criticism for encouraging lifestyle habits that negatively affect one’s health. A rising backlash against traditional “Get Back Your Beach Body” and “Lose That Spare Tire” pitches would be a blow to gyms and others in the fitness space seeking to tap weight-loss as a motivator. 

As noted by Social-Ping, reactions to the move on social media were diverse. The site wrote, “Some users have been praising the healthy attitudes the push promotes, and others slamming it as ‘peak wokeness.’”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Pinterest’s move to ban all advertisements with weight loss language and imagery on point or an overreaction? How do you see the body-positive movement affecting consumer buying behavior and retailer and brand marketing and sales in the years to come?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This seems like a slippery slope of good intentions that could easily go awry and create future expectations that are impossible to meet."
"This banning feels more like sticking their heads in the sand rather than using this platform to change the narrative..."
"Pinterest’s move is not bold. It’s necessary. It’s not an overreaction but a reaction to the impact of harmful weight loss advertising and imagery on our mental health."

Join the Discussion!

14 Comments on "Pinterest says it’s all about body positivity as it bans weight loss ads"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

As a private firm, it is up to Pinterest what advertisements it allows and disallows. I have no complaint about that. However while no advertisement should body-shame or disparage certain body types, it remains a fact that many people – for their own personal reasons – wish to lose weight. Advertising to that market in a reasonable way is not, in my opinion, a bad thing. It all comes down to being respectful and sensitive to other people and allowing freedom of commercial expression.

Venky Ramesh
BrainTrust

While it is the right thing to do to discourage ads that idealize or denigrate certain body types, banning all ads may be a bit of an overreaction. Consumers need to be nudged to take action to get over their unhealthy lifestyle inertia. Instead of banning all ads, I think they should ensure the language is kept in check.

John Orr
BrainTrust

It is a slippery slope for Pinterest and anyone else who starts banning information. Being positive about any topic doesn’t mean you remove all other conflicting information, and who is the judge that determines it? Rather than strengthening your position and conviction about something important to you, Pinterest wants to simply remove subjectively. I don’t think this is a good idea.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Even as a progressive, wokeness continues to amaze me. What about people who want to lose weight? No one wants to make fun or denigrate anyone but one has to wonder where this leads and about the unintended consequences.

Liza Amlani
BrainTrust

Pinterest’s move is not bold. It’s necessary. It’s not an overreaction but a reaction to the impact of harmful weight loss advertising and imagery on our mental health. We need to push for retailers and brands to be more authentic AND inclusive of all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, and so on. We are people – not Barbie dolls.

The body-positive movement is what we should be focusing on – not unattainable standards that impact people in more ways than just body image and mental health. Let’s work on more inclusive merchandise assortments, leadership, seats at the table and realistic sizing specs. Let’s be REAL.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

Yes!! Fully agree and would like to see them go a step further and start applying this mindset to the dieting pins as well. A lot of the non-ad content circulating on Pinterest is just as harmful, if not more so, than the ads. So if they really want to walk the walk, they should re-examine their perspective as a whole, not just as it affects brands.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Pinterest’s move is on point to differentiate from Instagram’s filtered perfection and duplicate TikTok’s authenticity and diversity.

Body positivity has emerged as an enlightened business strategy. Welcoming, inclusive brands – including private labels – are winning. ThirdLove, All In Motion, Athleta and even Victoria’s Secret have made space for physiques ranging from lanky to curvaceous.

Brands that use positive, accepting marketing are magnetic and increasingly earn happy, loyal users.

Jennifer Bartashus
BrainTrust

This seems like a slippery slope of good intentions that could easily go awry and create future expectations that are impossible to meet. What is next? No acne medication ads out of sensitivity for those with skin problems? Advertising revenue is an important aspect for many companies’ financial performance. While each company has the right to determine which ads it will or will not accept, why does it need to be a public statement? It may create a cascade effect that has unintended consequences. It is hard to see how companies can ever “win” in a battle of what may or may not be considered appropriate by all users.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

I am surrounded by allies! Keep the ads positive and keep them running. Ads that are offensive and denigrating to any group are not positive. But encouragement for those who want to address their own obesity, in a positive way, may just be what that sector needs to get on a weight loss program.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

When did we formally abandon common sense? Was it some Congressional resolution or just some evil genius, laughing manically in his/her lair?

The country has a growing health crisis because of the negative side effects of obesity and someone decides the best approach is to ban ads for weight loss?

I think Pinterest has an excellent chance of losing in court and I hope it is litigated: this just set back the idea that social media is capable of intelligent self-regulation … perhaps irredeemably.

Rachelle King
BrainTrust

More than half of US adults are either overweight or obese. The bottom line is, most Americans need to lose weight. While there is no benefit to anyone in body shaming, having a helpful conversation about the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight has never hurt anyone. Pinterest is certainly in the right spirt of wanting to promote positive body imagery, but to take a passive approach to such a serious issue is not really helping anyone.

Can some ads tone down the shaming? Yes. Not everybody is going to look like the paid actors in some ads. And, despite months of effort and dieting, most still won’t come close. The point is not to shame, but to understand what is YOUR personal best. There is no reason why Pinterest can’t have a healthy conversation about weight loss without shaming. This banning feels more like sticking their heads in the sand rather than using this platform to change the narrative to something more inspiring. After all, isn’t inspiration their thing?

Rich Duprey
Guest

So obesity is good? Promoting being healthy is bad? There’s nothing positive about being overweight. The myriad health problems associated with obesity don’t magically disappear because you’re now into “body positivity,” which is basically the participation trophy of health. And, yes, I say this as someone who is himself overweight. This policy is just idiotic.

Brian Cluster
BrainTrust

I agree with Neil Saunders that Pinterest as a private company can make its own decisions in what type of advertisements to run. But that leaves more opportunity for other companies to swoop in and help consumers in this very important health issue. The fact is that over 4 of every 10 adults are obese in the US and it is now the highest rate recorded. Per the TFAH, USA has the highest prevalence of obesity among all OECD countries. There has to be a middle ground — a more open and transparent way to advertise on these issues that help people that are trying to learn and improve their health. My take: More data and facts need to be used responsibly for society but brands will have to see how they fit with this issue, like any social issue.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Now we are trying to make body image politically correct?? Does this mean that the pictures/promotions we will be seeing during the Olympics of our American athletes will be banned? What about the ones which may be used to promote the Olympics using a world record sprinter, gymnast, swimmer, diver, etc. who certainly demonstrates their body in showing what they do, as it relates to their years of training and strict diet?

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This seems like a slippery slope of good intentions that could easily go awry and create future expectations that are impossible to meet."
"This banning feels more like sticking their heads in the sand rather than using this platform to change the narrative..."
"Pinterest’s move is not bold. It’s necessary. It’s not an overreaction but a reaction to the impact of harmful weight loss advertising and imagery on our mental health."

Take Our Instant Poll

Do you agree or disagree with Pinterest’s move to ban all advertisements with weight loss language and imagery?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...