If you’re one of the 500 million people who log on to Instagram daily, then you’re no stranger to influencers. As you read the words “Instagram influencer,” you may imagine a beautiful, skinny girl whose many posts portray a perfect lifestyle. More than ever before, thanks to social media, we can go deep into these influencers’ lives.
Through Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, we see everything in influencers’ daily lives. We know what they had for lunch, we know who they hung out with, and we get updates about their personal lives. Around 70% of teenagers say they trust Instagram influencers more than celebrities, despite not knowing them.
Total exposure to our lives is changing the way social media is being used.
Companies have taken advantage of society’s obsession with the daily lives of influencers. Their lives have a more direct effect on consumers’ lives than normal celebrities. By marketing products on influencers’ accounts, companies try to sell their “perfect lives.” It’s a win-win situation for both parties: influencers get paid and companies get their product exposed to millions of followers. This is effective today as consumers spend more time on social media, but it can be dangerous when harmful products are being advertised.
Flat Tummy Tea is an herbal detox promoted to reduce bloating and increase metabolism. The product is entirely marketed through Instagram influencers like Kim Kardashian West. The danger with this marketing style is that Flat Tummy Tea is only meant for those over the age of 18, which is never stated in influencers’ posts.
On average, 6 out of 10 teenagers follow the advice that influencers post.
Without an age disclaimer, impressionable young girls might see these products as suitable for them. 13- and 14-year-old girls should not be encouraged to ask their moms for detox tea. When I was that age, I wasn’t heavily following Instagram influencers. But if I had been, I think that I would have compared myself to the skinny influencers and struggled with my body image as a result.
Even the influencers who promote and use Flat Tummy Tea are not aware of how it works—all they see is the weight loss. While Flat Tummy Tea claims their product will help women lose weight, all it does is increase bowel movement, which accounts for the “weight loss.” After discontinuation of the two or four-week Flat Tummy Tea program, weight gain might occur. The statements made about the impact of Flat Tummy Tea on the website show a variety of results, but without any explanation as to why. The lack of explanation may be due to a disclaimer on their website: It says that the statements made on this website have yet to be evaluated by the Food and Drug Association (FDA).
Detox teas result in many side effects because of their unnatural weight-loss strategy. Those who use detox tea may experience side effects like dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. Long-term use of the product could permanently damage the bowel system. It is also advised on their website to consult a doctor before use of the product, which most consumers probably won’t do.
Flat Tummy Tea isn’t the only product endorsed by Instagram influencers that harms followers’ body image. Other products marketed for a “quick fix” to achieve the "perfect" influencer body include other detox teas, makeup, and waist trainers.
Influencers may see product endorsements as merely brand deals, but the products are hurting followers’ body image.
Young, impressionable girls are seeing the amount of fame and love these influencers are getting, and might be connecting that to the products they’re using. The impact influencers have on girls can cause them to believe that using the same products and getting skinny will grant them love and acceptance, which isn’t true.
Influencers have great power through social media, and it could instead be used to positively impact followers.
Celebrities can call out the toxic dieting culture, like Jameela Jamil and Sophie Turner have done in the past. Creating satire about detox tea, such as Jamil does, shows the public what really happens to make you skinny. Both celebrities and influencers can promote natural ways to lead a happy and healthy life, such as balanced meals and safe exercise. They have the power to spread body positivity and counter the idea that you have to be skinny to be beautiful.