Kim Kardashian is starting 2019 by drinking meal replacement shakes, again. The reality star posed with Flat Tummy Co products in a paid post on Instagram, with a caption that began; '#ad You guys all know I looove @flattummyco shakes. I've just restarted them (it's Day 2 today) and I’m already feeling so good.'
Cue uproar on social media from people claiming she shouldn't be supporting this problematic weight-loss method, with one commenter writing; 'Will you stop telling your fans to quit eating??? What kind of role model are you? Trying to make a quick buck but causing so much inner anxiety for your self-conscious followers.'
Kim Kardashian promoting weight loss products is nothing new, this time last year Kim posted a very similar Instagram picture, also in partnership with Flat Tummy Co.
It is easy, lazy and reductive to join the chorus of people, lead by Piers Morgan, who say that any woman who takes selfies or poses nude is a bad role model for young women. Is she narcissistic? Probably. Does she peddle ridiculous and unrealistic lifestyle myths? Definitely. But, whether you like it or not, to many of the young women who follow her, she is a role model and, as such, she does have a responsibility to her followers.
Advocating replacing meals with shakes after what is tantamount to a binge is problematic for so many reasons which will resonate particularly with anything who suffers from an eating disorder but has implications for any young woman who has body worries which, let’s face it, is most of us. At the end of last year, the Guardian obtained NHS data which revealed that the number of young women under the age of 17 who were being admitted to hospital because of self-harm had jumped by 68% over the last decade. They cited rising levels of ‘body dissatisfaction’ – insecurity and low self-esteem about appearance – as one of the key factors for driving unprecedented levels of ‘mental turmoil in young women’.
There can be no doubt that influential public figures like Kardashian and her sisters play a part in this when they promote weight loss products. I’m nearly 30 and when I see a picture of Kim Kardashian looking incredible in her pants while drinking a weight loss shake there is part of my brain that lights up, it takes a few seconds before I flick the switch back.
Eve Simmons is one half of Not Plant Based alongside Laura Dennison. Both women have suffered with eating disorders and continue to work on what they describe as ‘troubled eating’. They set up their platform with the sole intention of drawing on expert advice to promote healthy conversations about food.
‘The fact that these #ads are still able to be legally published in a country that may soon deem energy drinks to be illegal is beyond me’ Simmons tells The Debrief. ‘The shakes [Kardashian is promoting] are 130 calories per drink and the company advocates two per day – in replacement for two meals. This is the foundation of a starvation diet’. Crucially, Simmons adds, ‘there is no evidence that this type of diet works well to improve health or even weight loss long term and is only likely to be recommended for severely obese individuals who are at risk of developing diabetes – even then – that would be done in a controlled environment with medical experts.’
Phoebe Collings-James and Adam Bainbridgetching couples dressing fashion clothes
Sartorial symbiosis courtesy of Phoebe Collings-James and Adam Bainbridge (otherwise known as Kindness).
Perhaps the most egregious thing about Kardashian’s decision to promote these weight loss shakes, as Simmons sees it, is that ‘she – as a very obviously slim and trim woman – is advocating weight loss for a body such as hers. That isn’t just unnecessary it can be downright dangerous. There are also plenty of studies to show that being slightly overweight is way less harmful for your health than yo-yo and crash dieting’. With that in mind, Simmons says she would like to see the Advertising standards Authority (ASA) take a stand on such posts because ‘millions of young people follow Kardashian and what she is promoting is irresponsible’.
The only thing that could possibly make this blunder worse was if Kardashian had used the hashtag 'empowered'.
You might also be interested in:
Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.