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If you have Instagram, you’ve definitely seen at least one variation of the diet teas that are floating around. Be it Flat Tummy Tea, Fit Tea, or This Tea Will Make You Skinny We Promise Tea, you’ve probably seen someone like Khloe Kardashian being paid thousands of dollars to promote it to her millions of followers – as if drinking some tea gave her her figure. However, that’s about to change. Instagram, alongside sister site Facebook, is implementing new changes that mean if you’re under 18, you won’t see these posts at all; even if you’re over 18, you can report them and get them off your feed – and possibly off the app – altogether.
It’s not just the detox teas that are being kicked off the app as well – it’s also cosmetic procedures. If content claims to be ‘miraculous’ in terms of diet products, and if it’s linked to a discount code. Instagram’s goal is to ‘reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media’, to help protect the mental health and body image of younger people using the app.
Jameela Jamil, an outspoken body positivity activist and actress, was amongst those that Instagram has been quietly working with to design this new policy. Jamil stated that ‘this is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/detox industry. Facebook and Instagram taking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online sends an important message out to the world.’ And she won’t stop fighting until a serious change is made. In a tweet on the 19th of September, she wrote: ‘Onwards and upwards. Social media now. Next: the law.’ Jameela Jamil has been open in talking about how she struggled with an eating disorder as a teenager and is the founder of the I Weigh movement, which encourages women to weigh themselves in terms of their achievements and what they are proud of, rather than their physical weight.
It’s ridiculous to believe that by merely sipping a tea or sucking on a lollipop that’s laced with laxatives that these celebrities, with their armies of nutritionists and personal trainers, achieved their bodies that way. It’s incredibly damaging, especially to younger people, to see this rhetoric and imagine that they can also look like that if they simply spend outrageous amounts of money on 28-day detox teas. The fact is that all these teas are mainly laxatives, and once you stop using them, you’ll put all the weight you imagined that you lost straight back on.
These massive celebrities don’t care about the impact that their posts will have on their audience. In the case of Khloe Kardashian, her posts are seen by nearly 100 million followers, the majority of which are women, who are constantly targeted by every form of media for not having the ‘right’ sort of body – be it too fat, too thin, too muscular, too tall, too short… it never ends. So when another woman is also telling them that they don’t have the right sort of body, but not to worry, because, for the low, low price of $45 per week, you can have the right kind of body too! With an endless barrage of criticism from the media, it’s no surprise that UK based charity Beat estimates that 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder.
Diet culture is so toxic and unfortunately so normalised in society. The products that these celebrities flog encourage you to ignore your bodies signals to eat with their appetite-suppressing lollypops. People constantly brag about how much they lost during their 3-day juice detox or are strictly following a Keto or Paleo diet. In her concert film Homecoming, Beyoncé talks about how she wasn’t eating carbs, sugar, dairy, meat, or alcohol in the run-up to her Coachella 2018 set – which begs the question, what exactly was she eating?
Extreme diets such as these can often result in severe side effects, such as the ‘Keto crash’, or Keto flu, which happens when people cut out all carbs suddenly from their diet. Keto flu can include symptoms as mild as a headache to as severe as vomiting, muscle cramps, dizziness, and stomach pain. Is that really worth it just to lose a few pounds? Many personal trainers and dieticians don’t recommend Keto as a sustainable form of weight loss, and nutritionist Sandra Greenbank states that it’s essentially ‘putting your body into starvation mode’.
Something that a majority of these diets shove down your throats is that carbs are the devil, and if you enjoy a slice of cake, you should immediately cut sugar out of your life and jump on a treadmill to burn off all those calories. That couldn’t be farther from the truth: nutritionist Lily Soutter explains that they are essential for brain power, fibre, and maintaining a healthy weight. Yes, some carbs are healthier than others, but even the unhealthy ones are fine in moderation.
Even if you happen not to eat them in moderation, it’s nothing to feel guilty over. So you eat an entire Domino’s pizza to yourself on Friday night – so what? There’s no need to panic then and try only to eat lettuce for the next three days. Diet culture tells us that indulging ourselves is Wrong and Bad because then we won’t have the ‘right’ body – when in reality there’s no such thing. All bodies are inherently right, whether they’re fat, thin, muscular, or anything in-between. And that’s precisely what these detox tea companies don’t want you to think. Once people realise that they have a good body, they’re out of business.
It’s important to remember that dieting itself isn’t wrong. If you want to lose weight, that’s great! It’s just about making sure you’re doing it for yourself, not because you’re told you should, and that you do it in a healthy, sustainable way. What’s wrong is how these useless diet products have been shoved down our throats, as well as these unhealthy, unsustainable diets (seriously I can’t stop thinking about what Beyoncé ate in the run-up to Coachella – dust? Sunshine? I have no idea.).
Instagram banning these teas is a fantastic first step towards social media becoming a healthier place in regards to body image. Sure, there’s still a long way to go, but activists like Jameela Jamil will never stop fighting until everybody is accepted.