Returning volunteer, Chloë Morgan, delves deeper into how weight-loss products promoted by influencers are having a drastic effect on young people today.
Another day, another diet. Another celebrity advertising appetite-suppressants and weight-loss products on social media. Another celebrity encouraging their followers to starve themselves and simultaneously encouraging disordered eating. How inspiring!
But that’s the problem. These individuals do inspire their followers. Teenagers follow Kim Kardashian’s Instagram not just to be nosy, but to see the latest trend; to see what she’s up to. And what’s that? You got it: starving herself. Or at least encouraging others to do so…
Social media is used by teenagers for nearly nine hours every day. This means that for over a third of their days, they’re brainwashed by these celebrities; given life-threatening tips on how to lose weight. And more often than not, this is weight they don’t need to lose.
Kim Kardashian’s words echo in their ears like the appetite-suppressant lollipops that linger on their lips. This is what they need to do to start losing the weight they don’t need to lose. This is what they need to do to look like Kim Kardashian. And teenagers are the most vulnerable: out of 1,118 teenagers (aged 13-19) 37% of teenagers felt upset and 31% felt ashamed about their body image. Well, what do we do when we feel upset and ashamed about something? We want to change it, and we want to change it quickly. So, they see Kim Kardashian’s posts and they don’t do their research. They take her word for it.
A few clicks later and they’re filling their electronic trollies with these life-changing lollies. A few weeks later and they’ve lost a few pounds and are starting to fear ‘real’ food in case it turns them ‘fat’. A few months later and they’ve gone off ‘real’ food altogether and praise these life-changing lollies for changing their lives. A couple months more and their lives really have changed: they’re hospitalised and force-fed this ‘real’ food to keep them alive. Thanks Kim!
It’s not only Kim though. The media in general has a bad track record when it comes to the portrayal of body image. Stick-thin models strut down catwalks, their ribs stabbing through their flesh; their cheeks sunken in to give them the desired defined jaw line. We watch and we worry, but equally, we want. Social media sells us the dream. Celebrities are using them, so why shouldn’t we? Well, now we know the answer.
Of course, these lollipops and other appetite-suppressant products don’t always end in hospitalisation. But this highlights the negative and drastic effects these lollies can have on our body image, and how they can be the start of a slippery slope to an eating disorder.
And it needs to stop. Kim, and other celebrities, need to stop plastering their social media accounts with appetite-suppressants and weight-loss tips. They need to stop profiting off of vulnerable teens and disordered eating.
The media must change its overall portrayal of body image. We need fat; we need thin. We need tall; we need short. We need disabled; we need abled. We need all different races; we need all different genders. We need everyone.
We need teenagers to spend nine hours of their days learning that they don’t need no life-changing lollies because their lives don’t need changing. And, of course, by ‘lives’ we mean bodies! These nine hours need to be full of a wide range of beauty. These nine hours need to teach teenagers that they are, in fact, beautiful just as they are.
So, next time you see Kim Kardashian or another celebrity advertising a weight-loss lolly? Unfollow and report. Because you deserve better.
Featured image by Clara Chok.