Thanksgiving was not even over before my newsfeed was bombarded by “detox” articles, with how-to guides on “cleansing” your body or “melting” fat following the holiday season.
These types of articles always appear to be on our side — selling us “nutritionist and dietician recommended” products to burn holiday weight. Yet they are absolutely not on our side, but rather they capitalize on our most insecure impulses by selling us unregulated and unhealthy products/diets that they wouldn’t even use themselves.
Make no mistake, we have an obesity problem in this country, but these “detox” or “cleanse” weight-loss products are rarely seen being advertised by those with a BMI even remotely close to 30, nor do they offer any other form of medically relevant weight-loss information. In the past, Kim Kardashian and Cardi B have been scrutinized for pushing “Flat Tummy Tea” online to their largely young, impressionable fanbases, and rightfully so. Neither one of them qualify anywhere near the demographic a doctor would suggest extreme weight-loss methods (not that I believe they actually use the products they’re selling).
Celebrities and influencers that push these gross, ineffective fad diets should feel a sense of shame and responsibility, as they are helping to shape our culture which chastises people (mostly young women) for not being picturesquely slim and flawless. In reality, when you eat a lot after Thanksgiving, you gain a little weight — and there is nothing medically or scientifically wrong with that.
I especially despise the way the word “detox” has been co-opted by the weight-loss community, as it implies you are getting rid of some form of toxicity or poison in your body by going through with these sham diets. The truth is that fat does not constitute a toxin or a poison.
Simply having fat does not mean you are unhealthy, but in fact, the opposite is true. You need some fat to live a healthy life. Being obese is not an ideal lifestyle choice for its own set of reasons, but if the discussion is just centered around whether the existence of fat itself is normal or not, scientists have known for a long time that yes, it’s normal.
The feeling of wanting to purge a perceivable amount of weight is artificially induced by our media and culture. We want to be a particular weight because of how the celebrities we look up to push phony dietary rituals which they claim is how they look the way they do. But that is also a lie, as they are edited and airbrushed by magazine editors constantly, leaving us wanting to look like something that doesn’t even exist.
We should criticize celebrities online for trying to advertise these dangerous products (and the companies who make them), but ultimately, we have to evolve past them. Until the end of human civilization, famous people will always publicly swear by some snake oil substance they say “cleansed” them of their fat.
Individually, in order to not let these sort of messages affect our self-esteem, we have to tune them out and accept our skin as is. On Instagram, go to your privacy settings and under “Comments,” manually type in the words “detox,” “skinny” or “slim” where it says “Manual Filter.” On Twitter, go to “Content Preferences,” then “Muted” and enter the same kind of language there. That way, you will be less likely to see posts that unscrupulous degrade your body and form for capitalistic gain.