Change Instagram Policy to protect users mental health and restore positive body image.

Change Instagram Policy to protect users mental health and restore positive body image.

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Any photo containing any person whose physical appearance has been altered through editing, posted by a verified account, must state in the first line of the caption the word “edited”.

This is the policy we are trying to put in place on Instagram. If you would like to read the full policy, it’s benefits, exceptions, our full stories and research to back our cause please head to:


Abbie's story

From the age of 15 until the age of 18 I struggled with my body image. This ended up manifesting itself in disordered eating behaviours and bulimia.

I did not realise how much social media, specifically Instagram, was impacting my condition until I began to recover. Edited content online led me to have unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of how my body should look. Edited photos showed me tiny waists, thigh gaps, big breasts, rib cages and abs that you can constantly see. When I didn’t achieve those results I went to new extremes to try and obtain them including starving myself for long periods, orthorexia and bulimia. Because the captions failed to mention that the photos were edited, my mental condition was significantly worsened, as the photos would be used against me by my condition. These images are used against you. They attack you from all sides. 

I cannot help but long for Instagram to be a place of total transparency. I want Instagram to be a place that doesn’t promote unrealistic standards. I want Instagram to be expressive and a place to have loads of tiny little bubbles of people and all the incredible things we do. That is why Instagram is my favourite social media site, because it can be used for so many creative and exciting purposes.

People need to say when they edit their photos to stop the spread of unrealistic, unhealthy standards for bodies and faces. People need to say when they edit their photos because when you have an eating disorder, low self esteem or any other issues, you cannot rationalise what you see. People need to say when they edit their photos because people struggling with mental health issues need to be protected and cared for. 


Rachael's story

Abbie got help, and became aware. I am so proud of her, and look up to her every day. There are a lot more people like her, with the ability to recover. However, not all people manage how she did, or get access to help quickly enough. Being surrounded by touched up images does not help recovery, when your brain is telling you that these images are what you should look like. It’s also not just about those vulnerable - it’s about the people around them too. It’s hard to watch someone you love struggle, and wishing you had done more.

I firmly believe that we all fall into a trap of assuming that social media platforms aren’t as deceptive as traditional media. I know myself, I look at a post and don’t assume it is retouched, mainly because I don’t see it selling anything. I now know that a lot is edited, but not everyone will. The younger generations have grown up with social media their entire life, this is all they know. As humans, we look to others around us to learn how to act, what to say, and now how to look. Social media is a main source for young people now. It is important Instagram is safe for everyone, with all the information they need to navigate this part of their world.

I use Instagram to be inspired. I use Instagram to keep up with people I love, people I appreciate, people I think are talented or doing amazing things. Editing can be used as an art form and that is to be appreciated which is why we are asking for one small change. 

6 letters in the caption of a verified photo could drastically improve the mental health of over 1 billion people. Let’s make Instagram an honest, safe, inspiring and creative place.