You’ve got home from a long, hard day at work. You flop on the sofa and start flicking through Instagram stories. Finally able to relax, you take a deep breath and watch what all your friends have been up to… Bam! Diet culture … “With our recommended recipes, you can drop ten pounds in just a week!”
Who gave this company permission to disrupt my peaceful mind with diet culture? That’s what Katie Budenberg was thinking when she set up a petition to opt out of diet and weight loss adverts on Instagram. Until recently, there was no way to remove these potentially triggering adverts from your feed. But, thanks to Katie, they can be gone in a couple of clicks.
Although it’s super quick and easy to change your settings, when I posted a poll on Instagram, only 14% knew this was possible. And, only a mere 12% have chosen to filter out adverts promoting diet culture. Personally, I haven’t seen any information released about this from Instagram. Even though some influencers have been spreading the word, they’re in pretty niche mental health and anti-diet culture communities.
Even though more awareness needs to be raised, Katie’s initiative and success in her petition have already helped so many people. If you look at some of the comments on her change.org page, the negative impact of diet culture ads is evident. In particular, those with a history of eating disorders have found these adverts detrimental to their mental health.
“As a student, social media is how I stay connected. So, it’s hugely important to me that the media I consume everyday isn’t tainted by messages which are harmful to my wellbeing.”Ayaka Hogg, 2nd year Oxford student
Goodbye to Diet Culture?
Changing your settings could be a great starting point if you feel triggered by any ad content relating to diet and weight loss. Of course, it’s impossible to shield yourself from everything triggering in the world. But, if you can decrease your stress even just a little, it seems like a win to me. However, it’s still essential to think about when and why you’re using Instagram. Ad content may have changed, but we’re still exposed to sponsored posts or influencers promoting diet culture across the platform.
If you are still struggling with diet and weight loss related content on Instagram, then making a few small tweaks can help. Unfollow that person. That account you’re thinking of right now. And, if you really can’t unfollow, mute them. If someone is detrimental to your mental health, putting boundaries in place is the first step toward valuing your feelings and emotions.
Now you’ve unfollowed a few of those pesky accounts, you could start following people who bring you joy and add to your life. Although these influencers don’t have to be related to body image, some of my favorite people to follow are @helenarosecope, @sophjbulter, @ellaglows_, and @im_powering. Many of these individuals embrace the body neutrality movement: accepting yourself and your body as you are.
Diet culture will always creep its way into our lives. However, Katie Budenberg has shown that positive changes are possible to make. If you think that we need to raise awareness about something, chances are, other people feel the same. Why not start your own petition?