Over the past three years, I have noticed a detrimental trend of celebrities and social media influencers promoting products from shady Instagram companies, such as Flat Tummy Co., FitTea and Teami Blends. These companies sell non-FDA approved detox teas, meal replacement shakes and meal suppressant lollipops in hopes to profit from women’s insecurities. They pay thousands of dollars for influencers to pose with their products in hand, along with happy-go-lucky captions claiming how great the products work. Not only do these products fail to produce the weight loss results they often promise, they can cause horrid physical side-effects, including abdominal pain and discomfort, cramps, bloating, gas, nausea and diarrhea according to healthline.com. Perhaps the worst issue with these products and advertisements is the mental health damage and eating disorders, like anorexia or bulimia, that they can cause.
As they never shy away from controversies, almost every woman in the Kardashian-Jenner family (including the matriarch Kris Jenner) has promoted these products on multiple occasions. Most recently, Khloe Kardashian posted a photo on Instagram promoting Flat Tummy Co.’s meal replacement shakes which has resulted in justified public backlash. Besides the fact that Kardashian was falsely crediting the shakes for her figure, she was also giving the message to millions of fans that abstaining from eating is a healthy way to reach their body goals. In reality, the Kardashians do not maintain their perfect appearances by consuming detox teas or shakes; they follow strict diet plans, exercise with olympic-grade personal trainers and receive plastic surgery. By telling fans that they can look like a Kardashian by purchasing harmful products, they are unethically profiting off of the insecurities of their fans. Promoting the message that eating is inherently bad and that appetites are something one should suppress, the Kardashians are complicit in advocating bad eating habits and even eating disorders.
The main opponent to this trend, and the Kardashian’s direct role, is actress and activist Jameela Jamil. In the comments of Kardashian’s post, Jamil explained:
PHOTO COURTESY OF @KYLIEJENNER ON INSTAGRAM
“If you’re too irresponsible to: a) own up to the fact that you have a personal trainer, nutritionist, probable chef, and a surgeon to achieve your aesthetic, rather than this laxative product… And b) tell them the side effects of this NON-FDA approved product, that most doctors are saying aren’t healthy. Side effects such as: Possible Flat Tummy Tea side effects are cramping, stomach pains, diarrhea and dehydration… Then I guess I have to.”
Soon after the comments on the post turned negative, Kardashian deleted the photo, but that was not the end of the situation. In response, Kardashian, her sister Kim and mother Kris were quick to defend themselves and their questionable endorsement choices. Rather than taking responsibility, Khloe just denied the accusation that she utilizes a personal chef and stated that she posts her workout routines online for her fans who cannot afford personal trainers. In an effort to label Jamil as a hater, Kim argued, “You’re going to get backlash for almost everything so as long as you like it or believe in it or it’s worth it financially, whatever your decision may be.” Clearly, they care more about money than the well-being of their supporters and cannot grasp the impact they have on their millions of followers.
In a perfect response, Jamil rebutted, “Essentially, ‘f— the young, impressionable people, or those struggling with eating disorders, we want the money.’ I have been given these same opportunities to flog this stuff, and I don’t do it, so they don’t have to, Thank you, next.” In addition to speaking out, Jamil started an Instagram movement called “I Weigh” in an effort to promote body positivity and created a petition to ban non-FDA approved diet product advertisement from social media. Although these products are still plaguing Instagram at the moment, there is hope in sight with
people like Jamil using their fame to expose the scamming practices of these companies and their greedy ambassadors.
Victoria is a sophomore Political Science Major with minors in Italian and Women and Gender Studies.