Body positivity at a low ahead of WorldPride 2023

Allira Potter, Jonti Ridley, Matt Hey and Jeff van de Zandt for Body Pride

As the LGBTQIA+ community gear up for Sydney WorldPride 2023, pressures to conform to societal beauty standards are at an all-time high – leaving body positivity on the decline.

New research from the Butterfly Foundation reveals the affect that the “Mardi Gras shred” phenomena is having on community.

Harmful effects

The study indicates that:

  • More than half (53%) of gay men feel that there is a pressure to be hypermasculine and/or muscular.
  • 75% of trans people and gender diverse people feel that they face more body image pressures than others in the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents felt increased body image pressures in the lead up to major community events such as Mardi Gras and WorldPride.

This final point is particularly prevalent amongst gay and queer (59%) and lesbian (54%) communities, with over half of them saying they felt the pressure.

The pressure to conform to societal beauty standards has led to harmful disordered behaviors, with over a third of respondents admitting to restricted eating and fasting.

Furthermore, and one in five admit to engaging in excessive exercise to lose weight.

These worrying statistics are not only extremely harmful at an individual level, but undermine the ultimate meaning of WorldPride.

Mardi Gras is a time to celebrate equality, diversity, and authenticity, regardless of one’s appearance, shape, size, or identity.

Body Pride through social media

The research also shows that social media plays a significant role in perpetuating these harmful behaviors.

80% of respondents believe that social media has a negative impact on body image, while 49% claiming it has a negative impact on their own body image.

In recognition of this disproportionate impact on eating disorders and body image among the LGBTQIA+ community, the Butterfly Foundation has partnered with Instagram to launch Body Pride (#BodyPrideOnline).

Body Pride offers tips to use Instagram safely in the lead-up to Mardi Gras and all year round.

These include muting or unfollowing negative accounts, diversifying one’s feed, using hidden words to automatically hide negative comments, making connections instead of comparisons, and sharing authentically.

The LGBTQIA+ community deserves a safe space to celebrate their individuality, without the pressure to conform to societal beauty standards.

One of the champions of this campaign, Jonti Ridley, share their insight with us:

It’s no secret I’ve felt expectations and pressures both within and beyond our community that suggests there is a ‘right way’ to be and look like a non-binary person.

“But empowering myself with the knowledge and freedom that I can dress, look and show up however feels right for me has led me to so much joy, strength and euphoria.

“Like so many of us, I’ll be using Mardi Gras and WorldPride as an opportunity to fully step into my authenticity, with no shame, no fear – just love.

“I’m so excited to part of the Body Pride movement. Body Pride embraces my wider queer community and encourages us all to celebrate our collective passion for freedom and inclusivity.”

Help and support

Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact:

  • Butterfly National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 (1800 ED HOPE) or
  • Eating Disorders Victoria Helpline on 1300 550 23
  • For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14

To find out more about Body Pride, visit the Butterfly website.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Nate Woodall

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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