WHY INSTAGRAM'S BAN ON DIET PRODUCTS IS NOT ENOUGH
If you don’t frequently use Instagram, Facebook, or any social media platforms you may not know that there has been a massive jump on the promotion and sale of products that promise to transform our bodies and help us lose weight “quick and easily”. The "miracle" products is how they have been referred to because they promise you something that can't really be achieved.
There are teas- famously flat tummy tea which has amassed $220 million dollars in sales in the last calendar year, milkshakes and even appetite suppressant lollipops that have promised to make you just not want to eat. You name it!
Anyway, a few weeks ago Instagram proudly passed a new guideline that bans supplements that promote “miraculous” weight loss to users under the age of 18.
Everyone celebrated, I read a few posts from different influencers commending Instagram for being such a great role model, and after a few days everyone moved on and started talking about something else.
I'm sorry, but I am not impressed.
Don't get me wrong - this is of course good news but in my opinion it's not enough and it does not solve the REAL problem.
Here is why:
For one, lets not forget that Instagram (and other social media platforms) do not require users to prove their age to start up a profile, so there is no way of knowing how many under aged users will still be exposed to the banned ads.
Secondly, why are only users under the age of 18 getting this protection? I mean, if we are using the word "miracle" to describe these products I think it's fair to say no one actually believes they work, then why are we allowing them to be advertised at all?
That leaves almost the entirety of their platform without protection, without the option to opt out, or to have these products completely filtered off their timelines.
Does Instagram realise that this guideline protects only a potential 50 million people on their entire platform? There are more than 950 million people, 50% of them being women ages 18-44 that will NOT be protected from these harmful advertisements.
But here is the REAL issue - I believe we've been thrown a little bone to distract us for the main problem. You see, when an ad pops up on our feed at least we know it's an ad and we treat it as such. But what about when we see celebrities like Kim K and co who without having to say much promote the most unrealistic body image there is, far worse than any miracle product ever could? What happens when they try to sell us their own products casually on their own pages, like slimming corsets which Kim herself admitted she gives all her friends after they give birth. Where is the protection of the millions of new moms who need to heal from childbirth but have to deal with seeing corsets from the 17th century on their feeds?
When that happens, we have no protection. Just brainwash.
And what about all the filters Instagram offers its users? They encourage users to modify how they look, to change facial features to look slimmer, sharper, smoother, one recent filter I tried made me look like a plastic alien barbie doll.
Why is Instagram encouraging people to use filters at all?
What started as funny bunny ears has developed into a culture of people using filters ALL THE TIME and not being able to show their real faces without them.
Where is our protection now Instagram?
My point is this - lets not celebrate just yet. We still have a long way to go and social media platforms like Instagram have a lot to answer for and need to do much more in order to protect their users. I for one hope this is only the START of a far deeper conversation. The first small step in many, many more steps towards a more positive body image environment for everyone.