Pinterest is banning all weight loss ads and images, becoming the first major tech platform to do so

Pinterest mobile app smartphone logo
  • Pinterest is banning all ads that use weight loss language or imagery, starting Thursday.
  • The company is the first major tech platform to prohibit weight loss ads.
  • The ban covers weight loss product testimonials, ads referencing BMI, and more.
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Pinterest is banning all weight loss ads at a time when many people feel heightened body image concerns as they go out more regularly for the first time since the pandemic began.

“Around the world, people of all ages are facing challenges related to body image and mental health, particularly as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and kick-off the summer season,” the company said in a press release on Thursday. “Many are now feeling added pressure as they look to rejoin their social circles in person for the first time in 15 months.”

Starting Thursday, Pinterest updated its ad policies to ban all ads featuring language and imagery tied to weight loss. The company is the first major tech platform to prohibit weight loss ads.

The update means that Pinterest will now ban testimonials about weight loss or weight loss products, as well as language and imagery that “idealizes or denigrates certain body types.” The ban also applies to ads referencing Body Mass Index (BMI), as well as products that claim people can lose weight by wearing or applying something to their skin.

The National Eating Disorders Association advised Pinterest on the policy change.

“NEDA is encouraged by this necessary step in prioritizing the mental health and well-being of Pinners, especially those impacted by diet culture, body shaming, and eating disorders,” said Elizabeth Thompson, interim CEO for the association, in the release. “We are hopeful this global policy will encourage other organizations and companies to reflect on potentially harmful ad messages and to establish their own working policies that will create meaningful change.”

The ban speaks to Pinterest users’ own interest in body acceptance over the past year. Pinterest searches for “body neutrality” and “stop body shaming quotes” jumped by 5 times in the past year, the company said in the release. Users searched for body acceptance quotes 7 times more this past May than in May 2020, and searches for “self-love illustration art” spiked 63 times in the same period.

Pinterest says it will still allow ads promoting “healthy lifestyles and habits or fitness services and products” as long as they’re not focused on weight loss.

The company also called on its counterparts to follow its lead with the ban.

“We encourage others in the industry to do the same and acknowledge, once and for all, that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all.”

Last year, TikTok announced a ban on weight loss supplements and fasting apps. In 2019, Instagram added restrictions on posts promoting weight loss products or cosmetic surgery in an attempt to shield minors from such material.