Instagram & Butterfly Shun The “Mardi Gras Shred”

Instagram & Butterfly Shun The “Mardi Gras Shred”
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine



In preparation for WorldPride23 & Mardi Gras, many LGBTQIA+ members partake in the ‘Mardi Gras shred’: potentially dangerous crash dieting & excessive exercising.

The shred 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.

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.

Featuring four of Australia’s top LGBTQIA+ content creators, Allira Potter (right, lead image), Jonti Ridley (centre, top), Matt Hey (left) and Jeff van de Zandt (centre, bottom), Body Pride aims to drive home the message that Mardi Gras is a time for all LGBTQIA+ people and their allies to celebrate equality, diversity and authenticity, irrespective of appearance, shape, size or identity.

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.”

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 Mardi Gras. 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. 

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 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.”

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 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.




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