Body Positivity First: Pinterest Bans Weight Loss Ads

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Body Positivity First: Pinterest Bans Weight Loss Ads

Madeline Howd

I was four weeks postpartum when I logged on to Pinterest for the first time as a new mom. The first pin to greet me in my feed was for a supplement to help me lose the baby weight, and the second was for ways to lose my “mom pooch.” It was crushing, as a new mom and as a user of a platform that had always been inspiring me to be my best self.

I am a believer in Pinterest, as a long time member and as a marketer. I like to think that I developed the early Pinterest prototypes as a pre-teen in the middle of Illinois, cutting out pics from catalogs and gluing them to poster boards, envisioning a beautiful life. In the months leading up to the birth of my daughter, I pinned tips for family photo ideas, birth announcements, and guidance on breastfeeding. I also knew how the algorithm worked, and figured I would likely get more of these kinds of pins even after the birth of the baby and maybe for a long time after that. Never did I think I would be greeted by pins touting weight loss and ways to “fix” my body.

Pinterest banning all ads with weight loss language and imagery is a huge deal. They are the only major platform to do this, and I hope others follow suit. “The platform is focusing on the consumer’s emotional and mental health and wellbeing, especially those directly impacted by eating disorders or diet culture or body shaming, “ said Sarah Bromma, Pinterest Head of Policy. 

Other social media platforms tout similar, consumer-first approaches but their policies fall short. Facebook and Snapchat have health and fitness advertising policies that ban side-by-side, before-and-after photos and images but only of certain body parts, instead of the entire body.  Snap does take their policies a step further and prohibits advertising for weight-loss supplements, along with an added age targeting layer. TikTok prohibits advertisements for weight loss supplements and fasting apps, among other weight-loss-related ads. Twitter, by contrast, does not have any advertising policies specifically geared toward weight loss, dieting or fitness. 

Purposeful media weighs heavily on marketers and brands, especially as they invest with social media platforms where UGC content presents a host of challenges. However, brands that have a strong purpose, like Pinterest, see results. A 2020 study by the Zeno group surveyed more than 8,000 individuals across eight markets, having them rate 75 brands on perceived strength of Purpose. The study results were powerful, showing that consumers were four times more likely to purchase from a brand with a strong purpose, six times more likely to protect the brand in a challenging moment, and four times more likely to trust the brand. These results proved that brands that lead with purpose see a stronger reputation, brand affinity and revenue.

Results from this study also showed that while a majority of consumers agree companies should have a strong purpose, and reward those who do, most consumers did not believe that companies today have a clear and strong purpose. Pinterest’s decision to remove weight loss related content from its platform only strengthens its purpose, not only to the consumer, but to the marketing ecosystem and the brands that promote content on the platform. The future of online media is in the protection of the consumer, whether it is through protecting their privacy or their emotional and physical well being. As I plan to move in the next year, Pinterest will be my go-to, as I know I can build my dreams with a platform that puts me first.



Resources:

https://www.npr.org/2021/07/01/1012260233/pinterest-bans-all-weight-loss-ads

https://www.forbes.com/sites/afdhelaziz/2020/06/17/global-study-reveals-consumers-are-four-to-six-times-more-likely-to-purchase-protect-and-champion-purpose-driven-companies/?sh=691a1394435f

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