Instagram Makes Body Positive Changes
It is no secret that social media has something of a track record for being detrimental to one’s self esteem -particularly feelings linked to one’s body image. According to a recent psychological study, women and girls who spend copious amounts of time on social media platforms like Instagram are more likely to want to change their appearance with a cosmetic procedure.
To combat this, Instagram has recently announced their intention to implement a number of changes focused on “body positivity.” In a press release, Instagram public policy manager Emma Collins stated, “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.”
Instagram Cuts Down on Body Negative Spon-Con & Ads
Instagram’s tolerance for diet-centric sponsored content (also called “Spon-Con” -paid forms of influencer marketing). Spon-Con adds are designed to appear identical to the medium in which it has been uploaded, (in this case, Instagram posts).
Examples of diet Spon-Con are often found on the pages of high-profile influencers like the Kardashians, who regularly post photos advertising Flat Tummy Tea or other such products that claim to result in miraculous weight loss.
Instagram’s dodgy history of reinforcing negative body issues is due in no small part to diet Spon-Con, and it appears as though Instagram is finally ready to take some kind of action. A number of new policies regarding weight loss ads and Spon-Con have been announced with the goal of combatting their detrimental effects.
For starters, posts that promote cosmetic procedures or weight loss will be hidden from users under 18 if the post includes incentive to purchase the product. Additionally, Instagram has cracked down on posts that advertise a product making a “miraculous claim.”
Instagram to Stop Plastic Surgery Filters
Instagram has also announced its intention to do away with so-called “Plastic Surgery Filters,” which are augmented reality camera filters that ever so slightly change the user’s appearance to meet certain perceived “beauty standards.” Such filters -which can range from contouring the user’s cheeks to slightly straightening or reducing their nose- notoriously leave users studying their digitally edited face and wondering if it is “more attractive” than their actual facial features.
In order to combat these potentially catastrophic effects to one’s self-image, Instagram has made the decision to remove all selfie filters from the platform that are designed to mimic the results of plastic surgery.
Spark AR, the company behind Facebook and Instagram’s augmented reality development, has vowed to discontinue carrying all selfie filters associated with plastic surgery. The company will also remove past examples of such filters from its Effects Gallery. In a post announcing the change in policy, Spark AR stated, “We want Spark AR effects to be a positive experience and are re-evaluating our existing policies as they relate to well-being.”
On October 23, Instagram removed all filters that altered the user’s appearance beyond what could be achieved with makeup. This included filters that created different nose shapes, substantially bigger lips, or cheekbones with unrealistically dramatic contours. Filters that are clearly not meant to be representative of reality -such as those with cartoon animal ears or animated flower crowns- remain available, but their subtler, more toxic counterparts are now a thing of the past.
While doing so will not be enough to completely reverse the full extent of negative impact Instagram has had on a generation of young women’s self-worth, it is heartening to see a major company acknowledge its mistakes and take the steps necessary to making them right. If more social media platforms were to follow in Instagram’s footsteps, the damage caused by such companies could be significantly minimized.