Mental Health Tv & Film

Love Island influencers can’t help you

Fad diets, Instagram influencers and toxic positivity, three things we hope you gave up for lent, writes Elisha Jones. 

Every year people take time to reflect on what they could have done differently and what they could do better in the year ahead. Making a new year’s resolution can vary from being on time more, to losing weight or even to learn how to skateboard, it really can be anything. However, scrolling through social media at this time of year, when people are looking for their own resolutions they want to stick to, it is hard to want to do anything other than lose weight. 

In a 2019 survey, 48% of people said that their resolution was that they wanted to lose weight, 59% wanted to exercise more and 54% wanted to eat healthier. Around 80% of new year’s resolutions are broken in the first year, the other 20% are broken in the first week. Lent is another opportunity in the year to ‘start fresh’, most people tend to give up sugar or chocolate for lent, so this gives people a chance to get back on track. 

Influencers across all social media platforms, take it upon themselves to promote ‘quick and easy’ ways for people to lose weight, and this is seen heavily around new year. The words quick and easy are enough to make someone stop in their tracks and double take, we’ve all fallen victim of this at least once. Who doesn’t want to look like Kylie Jenner in less than four weeks? But when promoting these new diets, they don’t show the reality behind them, the people advertising products like ‘Bootea’ and ‘Boombod’ will most likely have personal trainers, personal chefs and nutritionists, work out 5/6 times a week, often a great surgeon and the power of photoshop. 

With it becoming easier to be an ‘influencer’ with TV shows like Love IslandGeordie Shore and Ex on the Beach; more of these diets are being promoted. Brands find a young, trendy influencer with lots of followers and reach out to them to advertise their product and this will often come with a high price for the influencer. Megan Arthur, a student studying her Level 2 and 3 qualifications to become a personal trainer, said: “I do believe there are still far too many influencers promoting toxic diets on all platforms, simply to earn money which is sad as it shows they truly do not care about the follower.” 

Megan said: “Fad diets influence people massively simply due to a lack of knowledge about the body & weight loss and they see the quick results that get shown (which are usually just photos taken two seconds apart with different poses to trick people)”. A lot of brands like Bootea and Nat sachets use this way to advertise how ‘brilliant’ their product is for weight loss, often with the ‘short time span this was achieved in’ being the main emphasis of the product. Even other diet brands like Keto will steal photos from real before and after pictures of people who have worked hard for their progression and claim it was through Keto or Juice Plus to get more customers.

Meg, also known as @theactivestudent_ on Instagram has fallen victim of this more than once, with Keto pages taking her pictures and changing her story. She made a post addressing the Keto pages that have been stealing her photos starting it with: “I’ve stayed quiet for long enough, but I am fed up with being used to push a harmful narrative.” She then went on to say: “I have joked about it in the past, but I have come to realise how harmful and toxic this is to young, impressionable teenagers who will see I dropped an amount of weight and think I cut out carbs and ate high amounts of fat. When this isn’t the case at all.” Before telling influencers, who promote these products to “do better.” 

Lack of motivation and setting unrealistic goals go hand in hand when it comes to being defeated by your goal. Think about why you want to lose weight, because if your mind set is ‘because I SHOULD’ and not because you WANT to, there is no real motivation behind that and that is where these companies come in and grab your attention. Megan said: “I definitely think certain brands take advantage of people with the intent to lose weight by showing them fake ‘results’ when in actual fact the results they are showing you are extremely altered, photoshopped or manipulated to get people thinking it’s achievable simply to make money.” 

“I think influencers could change the way they post for the benefit of not only their audience but themselves too, is by taking a step back and realising that they may be doing more harm than good.” Says Megan. A study showed that 70% of teenagers trust influencers more than celebrities, and six in ten of these teenagers will take the advice of an influencer they look up to. “They should set goals to educate themselves about healthy, safe and sustainable weight loss rather than quick fixes that can be hugely detrimental to people’s mental and physical wellbeing in the long run.”  

Back in 2019, Instagram said that they were going to put limitations on under 18s seeing posts about weight loss and cosmetic surgery, due to the rise in influencers advertising to impressionable young people. When asked if there should be a law in place to restrict influencers from exaggerating to their audience, Megan said: “I do believe there should be some sort of law or guideline in which influencers need to ensure they are following but it’s a very complicated matter and while I don’t agree with photoshopping, lying and manipulation it would be very hard to control.”

Megan said: “I’m glad that these sorts of things are being brought to light not just in the health & fitness side of social media but social media as a whole as it’s so important that we rid the idea that things like ‘boo-tea’ actually works.” 

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