Latest news | 12 Feb 2023

Butterfly and Instagram combat body image pressures within the LGBTQIA+ community to promote Body Pride


  • More than half (54%) of people, and nearly two thirds (64%) of gay men believe there is an expectation to look a certain way in the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Nearly half (47%) of the LGBTQIA+ community felt increased body image pressures in the lead up to community events such as WorldPride, with more than half gay (59%), lesbian (54%) and queer (59%) people having experienced this
  • Over a third (36%) of LGBTQIA+ people engage in restricted eating, fasting, or dieting in the lead up Mardi Gras
  • 75% of non-binary people and trans people said they had built community and made new friends via social media

In preparation for the biggest global LGBTQIA+ event, WorldPride23, and various other LGBTQIA+ community events across the country, many in the community are also preparing themselves for the occasion with potentially dangerous crash dieting and excessive exercising. This so called ‘Mardi Gras shred’ often plays out on social media with people sharing progress updates and documenting their journey to getting ‘Mardi Gras ready’.

To combat this trend, and in recognition that the LGBTQIA+ community is disproportionately impacted by eating disorders and body image concerns, Butterfly Foundation has partnered with Instagram to launch Body Pride (#BodyPrideOnline), a campaign specifically designed to address and challenge negative conversations around body ideals and appearance that can spike in the lead up to and during LGBTQIA+ events, particularly Mardi Gras.

Featuring four of Australia’s top LGBTQIA+ content creators, Allira Potter, Jonti Ridley, Matt Hey (aka Alright, Hey!) and Jeff van de Zandt, Body Pride aims to drive home the message that Pride events are a time for all LGBTQIA+ people and their allies to celebrate equality, diversity and authenticity, irrespective of appearance, shape, size or identity.

Melissa Wilton, Butterfly’s Head of Communications and Engagement, said, “We know many people in the LGBTQIA+ community feel increased body image concerns in the lead up to Pride events like Mardi Gras, which can trigger anxiety and potentially exacerbate disordered eating behaviours and attitudes. The research indicates that those affected most are gay men and those who are trans people and gender diverse people. The inference here is that you need to look a certain way or have a specific physique to be a worthy member of the community, which just isn’t true.”

These pressures are felt differently across the community. For example, new research just released by Butterfly revealed 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 is particularly prevalent amongst gay and queer (59%) and lesbian (54%) communities, with over half of them saying they felt the pressure.

This seasonal spike in body image pressures has been found to lead to harmful and disordered behaviours, with over a third (36%) of respondents admitting to engaging in restricted eating, fasting, or dieting, and one in five (19%) people saying they engage in excessive exercise, with the aim to lose weight in the lead up to Pride and community events.

When looking further into the LGBTQIA+ community, some people are experiencing this trend on a more alarming rate, with more than half (52%) of non-binary, gender fluid and trans participants saying they perform some form of disordered eating behaviours such as dieting, fasting, excessive exercise, binge eating, and diet pills.

A lot of this discourse is driven by social media, as an overwhelming 80% of respondents believe that social media has a negative impact on body image, more generally, with almost half (49%) claiming that social media has a negative impact on their own body image. This is even more apparent amongst LGBTQIA+ youth, with two thirds of young people (18-29) saying that social media negatively impacts their own body image.

Determined to shift the conversation and establish a positive social media space, Body Pride has collaborated with their four LGBTQIA+ content creators, Allira Potter, Jonti Ridley, Matt Hey (aka Alright, Hey!) and Jeff van de Zandt, to share their experiences with body image pressures and to give candid advice to the community about how to use Instagram safely in the lead up to Mardi Gras and all year round.

Top tips for using Instagram in ways that foster #BodyPrideOnline include:
  • Mute or unfollow people/accounts that make you feel negatively about your body or your identity. With an alarming majority (87%) of LGBTQIA+ youth (18-29) saying that they compare themselves to other people on social media, don’t be afraid to block the account if muting isn’t enough.
  • Diversify your feed and follow varied bodies and appearance, so you see content that makes you feel body confident, empowered and inspired.
  • Use Hidden Words, to automatically hide offensive comments and messages – go to privacy settings > ‘Hidden words’ and enter any words, phrases or emojis you don’t want to see in comments and messages. Instagram will also work to no longer recommend content with those words in the caption or the hashtag.
  • Make connections, not comparisons – following people from the LGBTQIA+ community can help you build connections with like-minded people but try not to compare. In fact, research data showed that 51% of total respondents have been able to build a sense of community on social media, with over three quarters of non-binary, gender fluid, trans (76%) and Queer (75%) people claiming to have found friends over social media, creating a safe space for the community to thrive.
  • Share authentically by avoiding the use of face or body-changing filters and apps – showcase the real you!

Philip Chua, Head of Public Policy for Instagram Asia-Pacific, said, “We are committed to supporting people to use Instagram in ways that feel safe and comfortable for them. By partnering with the world’s leading experts – including Butterfly Foundation – we are working to reduce pressures around body image online and enable people to use platforms like Instagram to build stronger communities and meaningful connections for safer and more positive body image experiences.”

Eating disorders and body image issues have significant prevalence in the LGBTQIA+ community all year round, with over half (54%) of LGBTQIA+ people saying that there’s an expectation to look a certain way within the community. Butterfly’s newly launched Body Pride resource hub will live on well beyond Mardi Gras and WorldPride23, hosted on the Butterfly website as an ongoing resource for the community.

The Body Pride online resource hub contains evidence-based resources and materials, and stories of lived experience from LGBTQIA+ people, designed to encourage the community to feel pride within their bodies and reach out for support if they are struggling with eating disorders or body image concerns. It will be frequently updated, and Butterfly Helpline staff receive ongoing training to better support the LGBTIQA+ community.

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





NOTE TO EDITORS & PRODUCERS: Please include the following support line details in all media coverage of this story and refer to the Mindframe Media guidelines for safe reporting on eating disorders. Please include the following helpline message.


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