By Aurora Wilson
You may have seen it before: scrolling through Instagram, a picture of a woman pops up. She is holding detox tea and claims that it gave her the “perfect body.” This woman is usually exactly however thin, curvy, or fit is in style at the moment, and she says that all you have to do to look like her is buy detox tea. Seems simple enough, right?
Detox teas, or “skinny teas” are supplements that are advertised to help people lose weight, burn calories, and suppress their appetite. Detox teas have grown in popularity with the rise of Instagram influencers. What many people who sell detox teas fail to mention are the health effects, all the ingredients they use, and most notably, the effect these teas have on a person’s body image. You can find out more about these teas, their dangers, and the influencers that promote them here.
Although detox tea ads claim that they can help someone attain a “perfect” body, the women who promote them don’t tell the full story. Due to the wealthiness of successful influencers, many of them have access to personal trainers and dieticians, personal gyms, and enriching food that most people don’t have. And influencers’ full-time jobs are to look their best 100% of the time.
Skinny teas highlight an important and gendered issue that most people don’t realize: the idea that a “perfect body” needs to be achieved or is something a person needs to work for, especially among women. The media wants every individual to believe that in order to live a fulfilling life, you need to have a body that fits the beauty standard. The body standards that women are expected to achieve are impossible for most women. A “perfect body” does not exist. There is no right or wrong way to look or express yourself.
When young women see these types of ads in their everyday media, it teaches them that there is something inherently wrong with them and that they need to be constantly reaching for perfection. Beauty standards are unrealistic, capitalistic and support the patriarchy by convincing women that the only way to be happy is spend money, time and energy on their appearance. This creates competition and resentment among women and teaches women that their value is inherently based upon their beauty and appeal to others, especially men. By convincing women of this, beauty standards force women to adopt rigorous beauty routines. And these detox tea ads contribute to these standards and tell women that their focus should be on the way they are seen by the world instead of on how they view themselves.
Good health is not possible with skinny teas. Health is a process that has no linear path. With this in mind, it is essential that people love themselves and whatever body shape they have or size they are. There is no correct way to exist. Loving yourself is the biggest favor you can do for your health and happiness. All bodies are valuable and valid.