TikTok has announced that it is introducing new policies that will take a tough stance on ads that promote a negative and harmful body image.
In a press release on its website, it announced that these new policies that will include a ban on ads for fasting apps and weight loss supplements. The video-sharing platform said its new policies will also focus on tackling exaggerated claims in relation to weight loss products and blocking under 18s from being served ads for weight management products.
The move was endorsed by eating disorder charity, Beat, who commented: “Weight loss products can be very attractive to people affected by eating disorders. We know that the spread of these damaging weight loss claims, particularly the spike in fasting adverts shown on social media platforms, has caused great distress and risked triggering eating disorder behaviours in many of those suffering.”
Indeed, this is more important than ever. The disruption and anxiety that can be associated with lockdown can exacerbate the issues faced by those dealing with eating disorders. Similarly, the inability to see family and friends, or even a GP, in the way one usually would, is incredibly stressful and isolating. Even those without eating disorders have probably found themselves endlessly scrolling through social media during lockdown; often faced with streams of seemingly flawless faces and bodies. It’s easy to see how this type of content can perpetuate negative stereotypes or ideas about how we should look.
The ASA has generally taken a tough stance on influencers marketing weight loss products. Last year it banned ads featuring Katie Price, Georgia Harrison and Lauren Goodger that promoted weight loss “gummies” and warned the advertisers about promoting these products irresponsibly. You can read our post on this here.
There is clearly more to be done here, but it’s great to see social media platforms taking responsibility for promoting and celebrating positive body image, and engaging with mental health issues.
As a society, weight stigma and body shaming pose both individual and cultural challenges, and we know that the internet, if left unchecked, has the risk of exacerbating such issues. That's why we're focused on working to safeguard our community from harmful content and behavior while supporting an inclusive – and body-positive – environment.