Diet Culture in Social Media

By: Erika, Isabel, Regina

Instagram and Facebook have recently made a positive step forward in making social media a safer place for all. These two social giants passed a new policy where minors under age 18 are blocked from seeing posts that promote certain weight loss products or cosmetic procedures that could be misleading and harmful to their developing minds. 

Adolescents are not the only people harmed by these kinds of posts. Adults can be fooled by false advertising, too, so “miracle diet” posts are also being banned, monitored and taken down by the two social media applications.

This issue blew up as the craze of promoting these slimming practices has taken over celebrity and influencer feeds, which conveniently reach millions of people, many being teens and young adults. Many of us have seen these posts all over: “Drink this tea and drop 10 pounds in a week,” “Skip dinner; this protein shake is magic,” and the like. 

Kim Kardashian and Cardi B have been especially criticized for their participation in this fad of “miracle” diet posts. 

The behind-the-scenes factors that are not shown in the social media posts celebrities or influencers make about how to look like them include: genetics, aesthetic procedures, photoshop and personal trainers that these posts are paying for. 

This modern case can be applied to a very old ethical theory called the Social Contract Theory. This theory prompts society to establish a set of agreed upon rules, which will work towards a greater common good. In this case, the media giants Instagram and Facebook, set  policies to diminish these harmful posts and unrealistic beauty ideals. Within this contract, various proposed solutions to the issue include the privatization and improvement of common resources as well as their management. 

Is it ethically wrong to make money off of promoting products that can lead to unhealthy dieting practices? Products that can negatively affect how a teen views themself and the concept of body image in general? Yes, we believe it is. Although Instagram and Facebook are actively making an effort to reduce the “diet culture” society has instilled in us, this journey to a physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier society is a long one that will take effort from not only THEM, but US as well.

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