I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. It is great for fashion inspiration because I shamelessly stalk my favorite influencers’ outfit-of-the-day shots, but it becomes dangerous when I aimlessly scroll through their content and begin to zoom in on their bodies.
I begin to wish my own body looked like theirs, and when influencers like Kyle Jenner and Cardi B began promoting Flat Tummy Tea and flooding my feed with this “wellness” product, I thought I had found my answer.
I believed this tea would perfect my body and that I would finally look like the influencers I followed.
Once I saw my favorite influencers and celebrities advertising detox teas, I believed I could look like them by drinking the tea. I compared myself to them, which made me feel sad and lonely. I could not afford to purchase these detox teas, so, instead, I went on a health kick, cutting carbs and sugar out of my diet.
My replacement for the tea affected me in negative ways. My mood frequently changed, I constantly felt tired, and no matter how much coffee I drank, my energy levels were at an all-time low.
Although I was not participating in the detox-tea trend, I was still avoiding processed foods, thinking I could look like the influencers on my Instagram feed if I refused to eat anything “unhealthy.”
But then there was backlash. Critics slammed influencers for advertising seemingly “detoxing” teas that in actuality were laxatives—and could be viewed as a type of disordered eating. It’s scary to me that I considered purchasing detox teas to help me attain the attractive bodies of the influencers I looked up to, and it’s also scary that I made dramatic changes to my diet when the tea was too expensive.
Yet, what is even scarier is that influencers have the power to promote these dangerous products and normalize them in our society.
A survey from Origin about American social media users said 41% of 1,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 felt sad, anxious, or depressed after using social media. These individuals make up Gen Z, which is the generation also known as the first “social natives.”
Although social media can connect us, it can also bring us down because we are exposed to a plethora of content that makes us question our own identities.
There is a bigger issue that goes beyond the detox teas being advertised. The problem is that influencers have the power to promote whatever they want on their platforms, regardless of how much harm it can bring to their followers.
This harm is not only misinformation, but also the normalization of disordered habits that can negatively impact their audiences.
Instead of scrolling through social media, comparing ourselves to others, and adopting practices that we think will help us feel better, let us instead empower one another by sharing what makes us feel like ourselves and appreciate what we already have.