As vaccines continue to roll out across the country, Canadians are thinking more and more about returning to office. Even with the increase in cases due to the Delta version in Toronto and the GTA, discussions about return-to-work plans continue.
But it’s not just the thought of separation or a return to the office that has filled people with so much anxiety: Some are terrified of seeing others in person again because of a change in body shape. And it has become an internal battle for those who are already going through a stressful situation.
For many Canadians, working from home means a less active lifestyle. And for those who have somehow kept active, there is increasing pressure on them to look and feel as good as before the pandemic, which is clearly too much to ask of anyone.
A report from Dalhousie University, released in April, found that 74 percent of Canadians reported their eating habits Of those affected by the pandemic, only over 40 percent said they had gained weight. With these statistics in hand, it’s no surprise that fitness and weight loss companies such as Noom and WW (formerly Weight Watchers) are seeing a surge in activity, capitalizing on the shame of our diet culture-obsessed world. are hoping.
Aryal Maharaj, Outreach and Education Coordinator, National Eating Disorders Information Centersaid that their online services, including chat support, have been engaged 250 percent since May 2019. As people go back to “normal” interactions with friends, family, coworkers, or even other people on social media, this can be triggered. “With the changes in our activity levels and how our day-to-day structures in our lives have changed, it’s no surprise that people have added some weight, but it is the way that society shifts those bodies to others. looks and sees people.”
Diet culture has programmed us to examine our bodies, even when we are all going through the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. Simone C., a clinical social worker and therapist in Toronto, notes, “When we see the message that we should be using our time more productively through the pandemic, it’s a little unfair because the pandemic affects everyone. It’s been painful.” Si points to people bragging on social media that they were going to use the quarantine to get in shape or be productive, saying, “I think overall it’s just unrealistic.”
That’s why Pinterest decided to take a big step forward in addressing the challenges related to body image and mental health associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. announced in July That it was updating its policies to ban all ads containing weight-loss language and imagery. Sarah Broma, head of policy with Pinterest, said in a call that it was an extension of an already existing policy that has long prohibited body-shaming and dangerous weight-loss products and claims. However, in partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association, Pinterest was able to refine some of the language and images included in the ban, such as body mass index (BMI), and language or imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types.
“We know people are feeling pressured because they want to rejoin society and we want them to feel that going online, especially a place like Pinterest, regardless of body size or type. A welcoming, positive, inspiring space for everyone. We think these deliberate decisions really put our ‘pinners’ first, and their emotional and mental health a priority,” Bromma said. .
Maharaj appreciates these efforts and wants more social platforms to follow in his footsteps.
“I think it’s an important step forward, and a whole system exists when we think about the larger systemic reasons why people might choose to engage in weight loss. $72 billion to the diet industry in the US That’s why it’s important because, basically, a lot of it comes back to media literacy and knowing how to get through that message. Be seen what is being marketed to us.”
Specifically, he says, Gen Z people spend An average of 4.5 hours a day on social media, whereas Millennials spend about 3.8 hours each day. The same research also shows that six percent of Gen Zs follow celebrities and influencers online on social media, and 21 percent are more likely to purchase a product endorsed by a celebrity. Which is why the steps Pinterest is taking is huge and could have a ripple effect on individuals beyond the pandemic.
As we gear up to go back to the office, Si wants people to remember to be kind to themselves. Faced with so much uncertainty, there is no way to find out. She recommends listening to your body and, in addition, knowing when you need rest, when your body wants to move and maybe food.
“Whether it’s in person or online, find a community and talk to people about things that people think you can understand.”