Instagram and the Butterfly Foundation begin body positivity push with #TheWholeMe campaign

In an effort to combat the pressure to appear ‘perfect’ online, Instagram has partnered with the Butterfly Foundation to launch a campaign for teens and adults to promote the positive and authentic use of social media, titled #TheWholeMe.

The campaign consists of two toolkits, one for teenagers and one for adults, and a video series running on Facebook and Instagram, featuring four young Australians sharing their experiences with overcoming negative body image and social media pressures.

Those featured in the series are body positivity activist, Sarah Bryan, drag queen and activist, Felicia Foxx, mental health advocate, Braiden Fitzsimmons, and model Revathi Shanmugathasan.

The campaign is inspired by the Butterfly Foundation’s new research from its 2019 ‘Insights In Body Esteem’ survey of 5,000 Australians. The survey found that 58% of people aged between 19 and 30 compare themselves to people on social media, and 50% wished they looked more like people on social media.

The 2017 study found that 43% of respondents were dissatisfied with the way they look, which has now increased to 48%.

The #TheWholeMe toolkits have been designed with the Butterfly Foundation and body image experts. They consist of quizzes, features, and tips to encourage conversation about body image and overcoming social comparison.

One toolkit has been designed for teens to encourage them to be authentic on social media and educate them to consider that others’ social media feeds might be curated not to show the full story of their lives.

The other toolkit is targeted at adults to help educate them on Instagram’s safety tools and how to have constructive conversations with young people about social media and body image.

Kevin Barrow, the Butterfly Foundation chief executive officer, said partnering with Instagram was an important step for addressing concerns about young people developing self esteem issues.

“The preliminary results from our ‘Insights in Body Esteem’ survey indicate that social media plays a significant role in shaping how young people view their bodies. We know that when young people are dissatisfied with their bodies and constantly comparing themselves, they can turn to ‘quick fixes’ that could potentially develop into an eating disorder,” said Barrow.

“These concerns are a top priority for Butterfly and partnering with Instagram has been an important step in addressing them. Instagram is truly leading the way in terms of making social media a safe place for young people that is less about comparison and more around meaningful connections. We’re incredibly proud of this campaign and we hope that it inspires people to use Instagram intentionally and authentically.”

Philip Chua, Instagram Asia-Pacific public policy manager, said the platform wanted to support young people to be themselves online.

“We want young people to feel empowered to use Instagram in ways that feels safe and comfortable for them. We created these resources to combat any pressure people may feel to present a perfect image of their lives online, and to support their authentic expression online and on Instagram. We’re honoured to work with the Butterfly Foundation, one of Australia’s leading organisations in the fight for positive body image, and their expertise in crafting these helpful toolkits and videos has made #TheWholeMe powerful for young people and parents alike,” Chua said.

The campaign is the latest push from Instagram to reposition the platform towards authentic sharing of lives and interests.

In October, Instagram removed all filters from its platform that made users appear as though they had received cosmetic surgery. One month prior, the social media giant introduced policies to remove or restrict posts that promoted weight-loss remedies and cosmetic surgery.

Earlier this year, Australia became the second country to test Instagram’s removal of the publicly-visible ‘like’ figure. At the time, Mia Garlick, ANZ director of policy at Facebook (which owns Instagram) said the move was to remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive.

“We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,” Garlick said.

“We are now rolling the test out to Australia so we can learn more about how this can benefit people’s experiences on Instagram, and whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story.”

Instagram’s first integrated Australian  campaign also used this positioning, attempting to promote the ‘heart’ as a symbol of pursuing your passions and interests as opposed to its more competitive function.

In July, Instagram introduced two new products on its platform to counter online bullying. The first, Restrict, allow users to stop receiving comments from people without notifying them. The second will use AI to warn people that their comment might be considered offensive, and then ask them to decide whether to post the comment anyway.


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