Body Image and Social Media Roundtable Media Release

Experts from the eating disorder sector have called for tighter regulation of social media apps at today’s Body Image and Social Media roundtable in Parliament House, Canberra.

The event, co-hosted by Zoe Daniel MP and Butterfly Foundation, brought together experts in the eating disorder prevention field, young people with lived experience, social media representatives, researchers and academics, the eSafety Commission and parliamentarians, to develop solutions to better protect young people in online environments.

In recent years, some social media platforms have made changes to improve safety in relation to body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. However, the volume of users and the rapid development of new trends, including hashtags that get around banned terms, work against existing protections.

“Prevention is a key pillar of the National Eating Disorders Strategy released last month by the National Eating Disorder Collaboration (NEDC), including improving online safety for young people,” said the CEO of Butterfly, Jim Hungerford. “While we are working with social media platforms to minimise the harm to young people, and to encourage the positive outcomes that can come from social media, we need to work together to promote social media literacy and educate content creators in safe sharing.”

CEO of Eating Disorders Queensland, Belinda Chelius shared the experience of a Lived Experience worker at EDQ, “During the years that I lived with an eating disorder, I didn’t have a strong grasp of my own values and identity nor a connection to myself that supported healthy intuition. From my own experience, I feel that there can be a vulnerability and impressionability in relation to social media and the internet for those at risk of or living with an eating disorder.” She calls on the eating disorder sector and policymakers to stand up and speak with our communities to enable safe environments for vulnerable people.

The eating disorder sector has agreed to set up a working group to consider all options, including legislative change, to protect young people from harmful content that promotes thinness and glorifies eating disorders.

Butterfly Foundation will chair the new group which will have six months to finalise its recommendations to government and industry.

The attendees of the roundtable also agreed to explore and advocate for a National Inquiry into Body Image Issues – which would be the first Federal investment in body image issues since the now outdated ‘Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image’ in 2009.

Click here to read the full media report.