by Casey Ludick
Body Positivity and Acceptance is a revolutionary movement that shook the fashion industry to its core. With social media influencers going in and out of fashion, it became clear that two negative trends were oddly related to body positivity online. One of the most popular negative trends here is that influencers practice body positivity for show. It is important to note that many influencers at the head of the charge are considered skinny. Thus, they benefit from fatphobia/thin privilege and often what's known as pretty privilege.
Pretty privilege is the observation that the more "attractive" someone is by Western beauty standards the more likely they are to receive better treatment because of their looks. This observation makes us question whether those are the only bodies to be accepted. Typically, being skinny is considered more beautiful than being overweight and this can lead to negative body image for those who don't fit the "skinny" mould. Thin privilege often leads to body dysmorphia/negative body image for those who do not fall below a certain weight.
Internalised fatphobia is the idea that being overweight or fat makes someone unattractive and can present itself in fear of gaining any weight at all or some forms of body dysmorphia. It can also present itself as praising someone who is overweight for being confident in their body as if they have no reason to be confident.
In other words, supposed compliments like “you’re pretty for a bigger girl" further perpetuate the idea that being overweight makes a person ugly or unattractive. Thus, despite the efforts to preserve true body positivity/acceptance, many people still fear gaining any (in)significant amount of weight. This irrational fear is a testament to how many typically beautiful American celebrities have used their platforms without considering the type of fans they might have.
Many celebrity influencers are ignorant to the number of young people that watch and learn from them through their social media platforms. The Kardashian-Jenner family have advertised detox teas and pills via their social media for years. Yet have not spoken about the consequences of drinking these teas. Detox teas/pills or diet pills are usually not a healthy way to lose weight and are harmful to the body.
Tip from YouTuber and skincare specialist Hyram, from his channel Skincare by Hyram, "Anything that works very effectively over a short period won't work in the long run.". This policy is the same for fad diets that will help you lose weight but cannot be maintained and cause more harm than good.
But what is a fad diet? How are they harmful to the human body?
The term 'fad' refers to a trend or craze that develops within a social group in which the group of people follow an impulse for a set time. The term usually refers to fashion; in this case, the fad is despicable weight loss programs that promise rapid weight loss. These diets are easy to find through a quick search for recipes and rely on shocking 'before' and 'after' pictures. What is missing in many programs is the possible negative side effects of starting these diets because many of these diets are not meant for any adult human beings as they can be very restrictive.
The level of choice restriction is therefore harder to maintain over long periods. These diets fulfil their promise of rapid weight loss, so they don't seem problematic at all. Although, many body-positive influencers disagree, including activist and actor Jameela Jamil. Jamil has called out influencers and dynasties like the Kardashians for their continuous support of detox teas and pills. Aunty Jameela has "done more to expose the detox tea lies than the FDA", says an article in the College View. She has shamed famous body shamers and fad/detox tea pushers online on multiple occasions.
Following these diets or taking "detoxing" pills or teas for a short period can have long-term effects on your body. Most detox teas/pills are laxatives meaning that everything consumed while on it will go to waste, causing dramatic weight loss over a short time frame. Alternatively, they could also be appetite suppressants that trick the body into feeling full or well-nourished. Most fad diets exclude important food groups claiming they hinder weight loss or some other absolute lie. One of the side effects include becoming nutritionally deficient and thus, needing help through supplements or vitamins in place of foods that contain specific nutrients.
Alongside this is the possible loss of muscle mass and water weight throughout the dieting period. While weight loss happens, the loss of bodily essentials like muscle mass and water is detrimental to long term weight loss and overall health. This loss of essential materials is because dieting forces the body and immune system into high stress or fight/flight mode and thus breaks down fat, muscle, and water weight to keep itself functioning. Once the diet period is over, the body packs on weight as fat in preparation for the next high-stress dieting period. Moreover, fad diets can affect hormonal health alongside metabolism functioning.
Excluding certain food groups from your diet can affect your body negatively. These diets can affect the delicate relationship between mental health and food, affecting how a person sees food. The problem stems from the consumption of fewer calories/kilojoules than are expended. In other words, less food is taken in than the amount of exercise done during a day. But consuming too few kilojoules for your body weight can affect your energy levels during the day and in the long run. So, how do you spot a fad diet?
For one, if it’s not advice from a medical professional, then don’t take it. Next on the list is that it promises rapid weight loss, excludes certain food groups like carbs or food that hunter-gatherers didn't eat. A red flag is that you can achieve long term weight loss without exercising and instead can use a weight loss aid like a supplement or metabolism booster.
Society’s obsession with upholding these impossible beauty standards despite the health risks reflects a problem with perfectionism rather than natural bodies. This perfectionism is perpetuated by many celebrities and maintained by their appraisal. It is important to note that many celebrities have access to personal trainers, lighting and face tune and that many of them would look very different in everyday life. The reckless spread of misinformation is unacceptable, misleading and wildly inconsiderate because of the often malignant effects body-shaming online can have on young minds and bodies.
PSA: Typically, a moderately active woman needs to consume 8400 kJ per day to maintain her weight. In other words, she needs 2000KCalories to maintain her weight and energy throughout the day. Any less than that 1200 kcal (5040 kJ) would cause speedy weight loss because she's eating less food than she needs to maintain that weight. The problem with this is that the women would be consuming less kilojoules than a 7-year-old South African girl has to consume daily. A report by the NHS in 2011 stated that a girl between 7 and 10 years old need to consume between 6400 kJ and 8100 kJ daily.
The following images were taken from Jameela Jamil’s official Instagram account, outlining the ways in which the Keto Diet can affect a persons health. She and a few of her followers have called out “thinfluencers” for their continued advertisement of this diet as well as other fad diets. Follow @jameelajamilofficial on Instagram for more. Listen to her podcast @I_Weigh where she talks to guests about current events along with the body positivity movement.