We’re campaigning to make online spaces safe; to protect the mental health of people affected by eating disorders and negative body image, and to call for trust and transparency from advertisers and content creators.

We are calling for the UK Government to amend the laws and put governance in place to ensure that targeted advertising content is effectively monitored, and modified photos are labelled.

We can’t drive these changes without your help.

Trust and Transparency: Creating safe spaces online

In today’s world, life is often lived online. Did you know, there are currently 53 million social media users in the UK alone(1).
That’s nearly 82% of the entire population! And whilst these platforms provide us with a plethora of ways to connect and share like never before, they unfortunately also expose us to increasingly problematic content such as unrealistic body image ideals and targeted advertising promoting diet culture.

In a recent inquiry 61% of adults and 66% of children reported feeling negative about their body image most of the time(2), and with 87% of children aged 12-15 participating in social media use(1), a figure which rises to 91% for those aged 16-24(3)

There are currently 53 million social media users in the UK alone.
That’s nearly 82% of the entire population!

87% of children aged 12-15 use social media a figure which rises to 91% for those aged 16-24.

61% of adults and 66% of children reported feeling negative about their body image most of the time.

Here’s our concern

  • Research indicates that both consumption of digital media and social networking is related to body image concerns, appearance comparisons and disordered eating(4 & 5), all recognised risk factors for eating disorders(6).
  • And typically, whilst on average, eating disorders develop between the ages of 13-17(7), recent evidence suggests children as young as five years old are experiencing both body dissatisfaction and eating disorders(8).

There are currently 1.25 million people in the UK with a diagnosed eating disorder(9) and they have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder(10).

So, who’s responsible?

Well, the content in question is both generated through advertising and by users. And since social media companies aren’t putting in efficient measures to moderate this content, we are calling upon the UK Government to do so.

Our asks of
User-Generated Content

In support of the petition to Change Social Media Laws to State When Content is Filtered or Edited, we want transparency around images shared online. We want to create an environment where people understand the treatment that images have undergone to make the subject look a certain way and to stop perpetuating unrealistic body image ideals. The #HonestyAboutEditing campaign has gained significant momentum since its launch only a matter of months ago, including parliamentary support from Dean Russell, Member of Parliament for Watford.

Trust: Our Call to Advertisers

In support of the petition to Stop Targeting Eating Disorders, we want to build trust that advertisers are doing the right thing. The petition asks that these platforms ban content or advertising of products which are deemed potentially harmful to those affected by eating disorders and has already garnered public support with over 1,500 signatures collected.

The Safe Online Spaces campaign calls on the UK Government to:

Amend laws for social media platforms whereby if body related content is posted and a filter or editing app is used, it must be labelled as altered so the user is aware.

A law passed in Norway just last month has done exactly this and when it comes into effect, it will mean that both advertisers and social media influencers can no longer post modified photos without stating that they have altered the original image (13). The measure is hoped to make a significant contribution to both children and young people’s self-esteem, in a time when so much of life is lived online.


1. Statista Research Department. (2021). Social media usage in the United Kingdom (UK) – statistics & facts. https://www.statista.com/topics/3236/social-media-usage-in-the-uk/

2. House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee. (2021). Changing the perfect picture: an inquiry into body image (No. 6). Retrieved from https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/5357/documents/53751/default/

3. Royal Society for Public Health. (2017). #StatusOfMind Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. https://www.rsph.org.uk/static/uploaded/d125b27c-0b62-41c5-a2c0155a8887cd01.pdf

4. Holland, G., & Tiggemann, M. (2016). A systematic review of the impact of the use of social networking sites on body image and disordered eating outcomes. Body Image, 17, 100-110. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1740144516300912

5. Mabe AG, Forney KJ, Keel PK. (2014) Do you “like” my photo? Int J Eat Disord, 47(5):516-23. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22254

6. National Eating Disorders. (n.d) Risk Factors. Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/risk-factors

7. National Health Service. (2021). Overview – Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/behaviours/eating-disorders/overview/

8. The Centre for Appearance Research. (2021). Written evidence submitted (MISS0045). Retrieved from https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/7943/pdf/

9. Beat Eating Disorders. (n.d). Statistics for Journalists. Retrieved from https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/media-centre/eating-disorder-statistics

10. Arcelus J, Mitchell AJ, Wales J. et al. (2011) “Mortality Rates in Patients with Anorexia Nervosa and Other Eating Disorders: A Meta Analysis of 36 Studies.” Arch Gen Psychiatry, 68: 724-31. https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.74

11. The Guardian. (2021) Bye bye BMI: Pinterest bans weight loss ads in first for major social networks. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/jul/02/bye-bye-bmi-pinterest-bans-weight-loss-ads-in-first-for-major-social-networks

12. Hosie, R. (2021). Instagram has apologized for promoting weight loss content to people with eating disorders. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/instagram-apologizes-for-promoting-diet-posts-people-with-eating-disorders-2021-4

13. Grant, K. (2021). Influencers react to Norway photo edit law: ‘Welcome honesty’ or a ‘shortcut’? Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-57721080

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