CW: This article contains mention of eating disorders
When I was younger, I remember seeing ads on TV for Weight Watchers meals, Lean Cuisine, a Jenny Craig weight loss program and SlimFast protein shakes. Dieting products have been a major part of society for as long as I can remember; however, they are now more targeted to young people than ever before.
In the times of social media, weight loss products and diet plans are typically advertised through social media influencers. These products usually have little or no scientific backing that they are effective for weight loss. Diet plans and products are also misleadingly disguised as “health products” to promote well-being. The result of this misinformation is young people, especially girls, buying into dangerous fad diets that can promote restrictive eating habits or contribute to other serious health issues. It is vital to think critically about diet plans, foods and supplements advertised on social media that can pose health risks.
Celebrities and social media influencers often glorify dangerous weight loss products. A few years ago, Kim Kardashian posted a photo with a cup of FitTea with the caption, “Detoxing with @fittea. It tastes amazing and the ingredients are all natural.” One simple Google search about FitTea reveals that it contains laxatives. If someone drinks laxative-based teas regularly, it can cause extensive damage to their colon.
The problem with Kardashian’s post is that it contains no disclaimers about the dangers of drinking laxative-based teas. A young, impressionable person may stumble upon her post, buy the tea that is advertised as a health product and abuse the product because they want to look like a Kardashian.
Another diet scam company, Flat Tummy Co., has had Times Square billboards that show a young woman eating appetite-suppressing lollipops with a smile on her face. Brands like these don’t care about your health; they see you as a market they can exploit for their own benefit. Not only are they affirming that a flat and toned stomach is the most desirable feature to have, but they are also selling little candies as meal replacements. Candy is not a meal, and it is essential you don’t fall for their marketing tactics.
The only actual scientifically proven way to healthily lose weight is to go into a calorie deficit. You should still be eating healthy and balanced meals throughout the day, even while you are in a calorie deficit. Mild exercise is also important for weight loss as well as for general health benefits. All of the marketed teas and candies are promoting unhealthy dieting methods through either restricting your eating or using laxatives to “detox” your body. Your liver already detoxes your body; you don’t need to drink tea for that.
There is immense social pressure to want your body to look a specific way, and it can be difficult to completely shake that pressure off. However, it is important to prioritize your health over any kinds of weight loss endeavors you go through. Social media influencers and celebrities will try to sell you “the easy way” to lose weight, but the reality is that losing weight is not meant to be easy.
If you see ads about dieting products that are “guaranteed” to help you lose weight, it may be helpful to block the company or select the “Not Interested” feature on Instagram. These products are not going to help you lose weight in a healthy manner, and they could introduce you to restrictive eating habits.
Beauty standards are always subject to change. Don’t risk your health to fit what society deems as beautiful one month only for it to change to something else a couple of months later. Fitting into beauty standards is not worth it. Choose health above everything else, and stay far away from the world of fit teas and appetite-suppressing lollipops.
Mishaal Ijaz SC ’24 is from San Diego, California. She loves normal lollipops.