Disclaimer: this blog may make me incredibly unpopular but the topic has been on my mind for a while and I think it needs to be talked about. I’m not targeting any individuals, companies or posts; I’m trying to make people realise that how they act and what they promote through social media can have negative ramifications for more than just themselves.
How many times have you seen photos on social media of teeny-tiny slender girls holding a bag of “detox” tea claiming that it helped them lose weight or tone up or get a flat stomach. Maybe you are that girl that’s taken that sort of photo. Either way, have a read.
If you have a big and diverse following on social media, I’m a big believer in the idea that you have an ethical obligation towards those followers. They may be impressionable children or middle-aged women or any type of person. If you have a big following, there is no way that you’ll know something about every one of your followers. So, in my opinion, you’re ethically obligated to be honest and truthful to those followers.
If you’re a naturally slim swimsuit model or a toned fitness model and you’re claiming that the detox tea helped you to lose weight, you are clearly being dishonest. So why bother promoting that company through your social media pages? Are you being paid? Are you simply doing it because then you’ll get a ‘shoutout’ from that page which will increase your followers which well let you get paid more to promote products? It’s an endless cycle and often frought with dishonesty and if you’re a ‘follower’ and think it doesn’t happen, have a look around you. Everyone is trying to sell you something or promoting products to you. I’ve done it too, I’m not saying I’m perfect, but the products that I promote are ones that I love and truly believe in and actually use. I’m not ‘sponsored’ by any company and I don’t get paid to promote anything.
Okay, so let’s map out an all-too-familiar scenario. You have an Instagram account with many thousand followers. You get an email from the detox tea company asking if they can send you some tea for you to ‘try out’ and they list all the benefits of the tea. “Cool”, you think to yourself, “I get some free tea”. Because who doesn’t like free stuff? So the company sends it to you, you try it, it doesn’t taste that nice but you know that if you post a photo of your flat stomach and the tea, that photo will be reposted by the tea company who also has many thousand followers. So you take the photo, write a caption about how the tea tastes amazing and has made your bloating go away and that it’s the “secret” to your fantastic physique. You tag the tea company in it so there’s no way they can miss the post and miss the chance to repost it for you. And your followers love it because your body looks great, they comment on how good you look and how they wish they could look like you and then your job is done. You’ve promoted the tea and promoted yourself and all is fine and dandy.
But let’s be honest, it’s not. That girl that said she wishes she could look like you, do you know what she’s doing to do? She’ll most likely spend her hard-earned money on buying the tea, do the detox and spend the following weeks hating herself because no matter how hard she tried, she didn’t look like you afterwards. She felt exhausted and tired throughout the whole detox but kept pushing herself just so that she could look like you. And she failed and now feels miserable. But what she doesn’t know, what I think you have an ethical obligation to tell her, is that you were born thin or that you’ve lost weight through other methods or that you worked out and dieted every day during the detox.
Or maybe she doesn’t realise that the tea contains diuretic and laxative ingredients that flush everything out of your body and that’s why your stomach looks more flat. Of course she wouldn’t know about that side of the tea, because you didn’t bother posting a photo of yourself after the tea ran out and your body is holding water and you’re back to being “bloated”. I googled “teatox” and these are some of the images that came up. Most of these teatoxes have “before and afters” with only a few days in between. A few days on a diet doesn’t constitute success. A number of factors could have brought about a change, one of them being loss in waterweight. I once read a great article about how you can only determine the success of a diet 6 months, 1 year or even 2 years after the commencement of a diet. So, what are the lasting results of your tea-diet? Furthermore, have a look at the camera angles and lighting in the ‘after’ photos. Chances are, they’re normally a little different than in the ‘before’.
To the girl that sees the ‘results’ of the tea and feel compelled to buy it, I ask you this:
If permanent weightloss could really be achieved by using a tea, don’t you think that everyone would be thin? Our whole obesity problem could be solved by everyone doing this tea detox! If only! Why do you see so many celebrities struggling with their weight when all they could do was do a detox and feel much slimmer and much better about themselves?
According to Dr. Paul Illing, Chartered Scientist and Registered Toxicologist, “your natural bodily functions are effective at clearing out harmful substances and there is little you can do to enhance these. Patience and a proper diet are more valuable than detox products and supplements.” So, even though the teas are claiming that they support “elimination and detoxification” and “increase your metabolic rate” and “support healthy digestion”, they also act as laxatives and diuretics and have no proven health benefits. You’d be better off spending your money on fresh food instead of on some overpriced tea.
If someone claims they lost x amount of kilograms using the tea, ask yourself why. Did you know that some of these teas come with a very low calorie diet plan? Think about it. What are the chances that someone lost weight from the diet plan rather than the tea? If someone has a terrible diet and then uses the tea and eats well for however many days, chances are they will see changes. But guess what? Those changes aren’t from the tea. They’re from the diet.
While you’re asking questions, ask yourself why there are no negative comments about the teas for you to read on their social media pages. It’s not because no one has experienced a negative reaction to the tea. It’s because someone is monitoring the tea’s social media and removing unwanted comments and blocking users who complain. Don’t believe me? It’s happened!
People have experienced vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea and have been physically ill from the teas. But you won’t know that if you’re willing to believe the skinny, smiling girl posing with her tea cup with the tea brand nonchalantly placed in the background of the photo. And if you’re wondering why you see the tea everywhere on social media and if that’s making you think that it’s really good and obviously works because everyone is talking about it, have a look at this: I’ve removed the name of the company because it’s not important but what is important is that they’re looking for people with a certain amount of followers to try their teas for free and promote them on social media. They’re not even looking for people who have had great results with the tea or who are regular users; they’re happy to find people who have never tried it before, are probably already fitness bloggers with toned and healthy bodies and they are basing their search for ambassadors off the number of followers the potential ambassador can influence. Enough said.
Back to the promoters:
If you’re using one of these teas with the aim of promoting them, please don’t lie to your followers. Our world is facing an epidemic of eating disorders and negative body image and you’re just helping to feed the monster. Teas like these can trigger disordered eating and can be very dangerous to some.
If you’ve actually lost weight when using the tea, I bet that you also cleaned up your diet and ate very healthily while doing the ‘teatox’. Why not be honest about that too? Tell your followers, some of whom may be young teenagers who would do anything to be skinny, that you not only used the tea but also followed a meal plan. Tell them that, although you look ‘skinnier’, you’re lethargic and tired and feel run down. And then, when you’ve finished the tea, be honest and post a photo of how you look when your body holds water.
The brands you represent or choose to feature to your followers are a reflection of the person you are. Don’t sell out your integrity for a shoutout, a few more followers or a little cash from the teatox company. Be honest with yourself and your social media community and they will appreciate that.
As SlimFitBean said, “weight loss isn’t a cup of tea”. Educate yourself so you can educate your followers and make a positive difference to their lives.