The existence of detox teas and weight loss pills is nothing new but an open conversation about the dangers—both physically and mentally—of these kinds of products gained traction when Jameela Jamil began calling out influencers like the Kardashians for their blatant promotion of such products on their social media pages. The actress has been outspoken about how she herself fell prey to similar products as a teen and developed an eating disorder that took years to overcome. Earlier this year, the Good Place actress launched a Change.org petition to ‘Stop Celebrities Promoting Toxic Diet Products On Social Media’ and also started a dialogue with Instagram reps about the advertising on their platform, which eventually led to the implementation of their new “diet policy.”
There are plenty of studies that show the impact that diet, detox and cosmetic surgery content, as well as aspirational social media posts, can have on young people’s mental health and body image. Taking that into account, and after speaking with not just Jamil but experts like Dr Ysabel Gerrard, who specializes in body image and mental health, Instagram and Facebook formulated the policy change that was announced yesterday.
Under the new rules, “posts that promote the use of certain weight-loss products or cosmetic procedures, which have an incentive to buy or include a price, will be hidden from users known to be under 18.” In addition, any content that made a “miraculous” claim about a diet or weight-loss product and was linked to a commercial offer such as a discount code, would be removed from Instagram. According to Mashable, however, these posts will only be hidden or removed after users report them, “likely once plenty of susceptible users or minors have seen them.” It’s still a step in the right direction though. In a statement, Emma Collins, Instagram’s public policy manager said, “We want Instagram to be a positive place for everyone that uses it and this policy is part of our ongoing work to reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media.”
“I’ve been working with Instagram all year towards this, who were amazing to deal with, and they expressed that they passionately care about creating a safer space for us all online,” Jamil posted on her own account.
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THIS IS HUGE NEWS. @i_weigh are changing the world together. After a bunch of shouting, screaming, and petitioning… we have managed to get the attention of the people at the top, and they have heard us and want to protect us. And this is just the beginning of our efforts. As of now, if you’re under 18, you will no longer be exposed to any diet/detox products, and for all other ages; all fad products that have bogus, unrealistic claims will be taken down and easy to report. I’ve been working with Instagram all year towards this, who were amazing to deal with, and they expressed that they passionately care about creating a safer space for us all online. This happened so much faster than I expected and I’m so proud and happy and relieved. WELL DONE to the many people who have been working towards this huge change. This is a mass effort. This is an extraordinary win that is going to make a big difference. Influencers have to be more responsible. ❤️
“This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/detox industry,” Jamil told The Guardian. The change will also affect the influencers who peddle the products this industry is built on, such as the Kardashians. When asked how the new diet policy will affect these celebrities, some of whom have hundreds of millions of followers on the platform, Collins said they will be informed of the new regulations.
“If [a Kardashian’s] Instagram post is pulled into the policy of promoting diet products or procedures for sale it will be removed. The Kardashians are people we continue to have collaborative conversations with, they’ll be made aware of the change.”
While Jamil has been criticized in the past for pushing a brand of “toxic feminism” and a self-righteous approach that fails to take into account her own immense privilege as an able-bodied, conventionally beautiful woman, the strides she’s made as a champion of body positivity cannot be denied. (Her social media account/movement I Weigh has amassed over 840,000 followers since it launched in March 2018 and created a global conversation.) With this latest move, her efforts have certainly paid off. And social media is the better for it.
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