If you’ve scrolled though your social media feeds long enough, it’s likely that you’ve run across an ad for one product or another that’s for losing weight, showing how other people lost weight, curbing your cravings or whittling down your waist. While that’s always been triggering for those working to gain confidence in their bodies, it’s possibly more detrimental than ever. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, there’s been a stark increase in young people developing unhealthy eating habits since the COVID-19 pandemic started last year. And as people come out of quarantine, many with extra pounds, the last thing they need is to be hounded with ads and imagery that make them question themselves. With that in mind, Pinterest is taking an important step, becoming the first social media platform to ban all ads with weight-loss language and imagery. They’ve enlisted plus-size model, body positive advocate and Pinterest lover Tabria Majors to spread the word.
“I don’t think people realize how impressionable ads are on us and how they attack our subconscious,” she tells ESSENCE. “We’re bombarded with weight-loss ads and something about body image in general all the time. And I’m just really glad that Pinterest is taking a step to eliminate weight-loss ads from their platform, because it’s so important to. I don’t think we should be forced to feel like we need to look a certain way or lose any weight just to feel good about ourselves. I feel good about myself just the way I am. I want other people to feel that way, too. They don’t have to change for anybody.”
That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with desiring to lose some weight or change your lifestyle if that’s what you want or need. But it’s the unsolicited messaging that is more harmful than helpful. Majors has experienced it not only online but also in real life when she was young. Though confident now, she says it was jarring to her self-esteem then.
“I don’t battle with confidence or low self-esteem as much as I used to. But it’s hard to get to that point,” she says, noting it took 16 years for her. “It’s definitely a long journey for me anyway, to get to a point of like fully accepting yourself and self-love and all of that. And it’s not like a cookie-cutter formula of how to get there. Everyone’s experience is different. But I just live for myself now and not for the approval of others. And I think that’s the biggest takeaway for me out of my journey to body acceptance.”
Pinterest is leading the way, which is refreshing. Other platforms and brands have also made some progress in promoting inclusivity and body acceptance. One that took too long though, was Victoria’s Secret, which after many calls over the years to reexamine the beauty ideals they promoted, finally had to rebrand. Years before doing so, Majors recreated Victoria’s Secret ads in 2017 to show that curvier women can and should be selling lingerie.
“They just had such an antiquated view of the female form. And their brand was made for men. It wasn’t made for women. That’s a whole other thing,” she says. “I think it’s great that they’re taking strides. It just feels like it’s a little too late, unfortunately, because you have brands like [Savage x Fenty] and ThirdLove, and even Torrid, who are very inclusive, and really disrupting the market. I appreciate their efforts at the end of the day, I guess. I still think they can do better, and have a ways to go. I’m always for a brand expanding and being more inclusive when it comes to their branding. I think it’s great on their part. I want to see them keep going, honestly, all brands to do that.”
Majors isn’t just talking the talk about brands embracing all bodies. She’s actually showing them how to be more inclusive and to reach a diverse audience. She recently collaborated on a swimwear line with Fashion to Figure and a Boohoo collection as well with the hopes to start her own brand down the line. Most recently, she posed for Ivy Park’s upcoming “FLEX PARK” swimwear capsule collection that goes up to a size 4x. It’s a major accomplishment for Majors, who made headlines last year for recreating some of Beyoncé’s classic music videos in a project called Beylloween. The tribute caught Beyoncé and her team’s attention, and now she’s modeling for the icon.
“Yeah, that is a huge full-circle moment. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I sent it out. I put a lot of work and time into it, and I obviously wanted some kind of return,” she says of the reception to Beylloween. “But honestly, as long as I knew that Beyoncé saw it, that’s all that I really cared about. And I know that she did and she loved it. And everything else is just like the cherry on top. I’m very appreciative of all the opportunities and the Ivy Park team for having me. It’s still very surreal. It’s been a ride for sure.”
Though she’s still on that ride, her main focus, currently, is to let everyone know that of all the social media platforms, Pinterest truly is a safe space. It’s allowing for people to curate the things they love and want to find inspiration from (for Majors, that includes fashion and interior design boards) without dealing with imagery meant to make us pick ourselves apart. She’s hopeful that more platforms will be more thoughtful about how they operate for the overall good of their users.
“They’re really paving the way, and I really hope that other platforms follow suit because I still am subjected to these types of ads across other platforms. I would like to not see them or at least have the option to turn them off. I think that should be something that’s available to the consumer as well,” she says. “But I think that Pinterest is really cutting edge for doing what they’re doing in regards to this. And yeah, I really appreciate it.”