Societal norms regarding representation in the media are now deeply rooted in inclusivity. Genuine inclusivity. Not how an outsider thinks a marginalised group deserves to be depicted.
Showing up is important, particularly for marginalised groups who have little to no access to their own voice. The social media platforms practising and using their privilege and reach to amplify these voices are those who are succeeding in 2023.
Since its launch, Pinterest has proved its dedication to plus-size representation on social media, creating spaces for anyone and everyone to feel seen and heard. This has earned the platform 465 million active users, with 79.5% of these being women.
Taking this into consideration, it only makes sense that Pinterest’s next venture tackles the heavily female-focused body image epidemic in a bid to speak to its most frequented user.
It’s answer? A new body-type technology.
The journey to a more inclusive Pinterest starts here. Your favorite plus-size fashion tastemakers helped Pinterest develop new tech that champions diversity. Now you’ll see more body shapes, sizes and skin tones when browsing our women’s fashion and wedding categories. But it won’t stop there. Stay tuned to see this change across the platform in the coming months because inspiration starts with inclusion.
Pinterest has set out to internally reshape the platform’s algorithms to increase plus-size representation on social media within its women’s fashion and wedding-related content. Head of inclusive products at Pinterest, Annie Ta, touches on the platform’s decision to do so:
“We’re attempting to increase representation by building this proprietary, inclusive technology that powers recommendations and […] to create a diverse experience on Pinterest. We’ve learned from our users that, if you identify as a plus-size woman, you don’t only want to see plus-size fashion. And you want to see that plus-size women can be fashionable when you’re looking [for it], but you don’t want to work extra hard to find it”.
Basing the new technology off of its pre-existing skin tone technology, Pinterest will essentially widen the aperture of plus-size representation on social media. Its implementation will enable users to see more images and examples that align with their body type integrated into pre-existing content that would traditionally exclude them.
But why now?
Pinterest’s latest announcement comes during a time where a lot of people’s attention is focused on fashion weeks around the world. Shrouded in controversy, fashion week’s are the catalyst for discussions surrounding plus-size representation on social media and in mainstream fashion. Being a frontrunner in tackling these topics, Pinterest sets itself apart from the competition.
Similarly, allowing plus-size women to see themselves represented in mainstream media will see many new users flock to the platform. With an increase in new users comes an increase in advertisers looking to pitch up and sell themselves. It’s a win for all parties.
How will Pinterest ensure this isn’t performative?
Coupled with previous displays of advocacy – such as its skin tone technology implementation – Pinterest is well aware of its responsibility when it comes to amplifying the voices of silenced groups.
Manager of inclusion and diversity at Pinterest, Megan D’Alessio, nods to Pinterest’s unique position as a primarily visual search tool to emphasise its ability to impact the future of plus-size representation on social media.
To ensure its genuineness, the new technology is reportedly built on user feedback. Users cited that they regularly had to make a number of modifications to their search requests in order to generate relevant results. In fact 52% of additional terms added to fashion searches related to plus-size, D’Alessio states.
Moreover, Pinterest understands the importance of such movements being headed by those they represent. In keeping with this, the social media campaign for the new body-type technology will recruit Instagram model and body activist, Tess Holliday and other Pinterest creators as its hosts.
And that’s not all.
Along with the launch of the newly-curated technology, Pinterest is also launching a new Creator Inclusion Fund dedicated to North American creators who share content related to different body types.
Interested creators can apply here.
What will Pinterest’s new technology contribute to?
In short, the plus-size movement.
More specifically, the way brands and other social media platforms contribute to plus-size representation on social media.
Multiple parties have made strides to increase the visibility of plus-size representation on social media, but, with the help of new technologies, Pinterest is able to take these even further. In 2016, Refinery 29 partnered with Getty Images to launch “Project 67 Percent”. Here, they committed to featuring plus-size women in 67% of its images across its website and socials, representing the then 67% figure of plus-size Americans.
More recently, Google began to offer marketers and advertisers best practices for body-positive representation. While we can’t be certain of the extent to which these offerings have changed the game, what we do know is that plus-size models have gained popularity and positively impacted a body-inclusive model of beauty in 2022.
With an amalgamation of successes from past projects and a desire to be a voice for marginalised groups, Pinterest will be able to diminish the reported 60% of plus-size women who say they have trouble finding fashionable clothing in their style. In doing so, they set the standard for other social media platforms, marketers and advertisers running inclusivity efforts and plus-size representation on social media.
The proof will be in the pudding.
Pinterest’s stride will increase the number of users to the platform, making it an attractive option for marketers and advertisers. Once other social media platforms start to see an increase in various aspects of Pinterest’s workings – such as ads revenue, influencer activity and marketing campaigns – we predict the penny will drop. From here, they will see and understand the importance of showing up and amplifying the voices of marginalised groups.
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