“A diarrhoea special of Black Mirror” is not an image I want to pop into my head when I begin to take a sip of freshly brewed tea, but this is not your average cup of Britain’s favourite beverage. This tea is different. This tea will change my life. Just a few sips and the pounds will fall off. It’s simple, they said. Just drink the tea, they said. Sounds marvellous, doesn’t it?
But, alas, some things are too good to be true. Jameela Jamil, a notorious foe of detox teas (and star of The Good Place), has swooped in to set us straight. “Man”, she tweeted, “all these brands and celebrities really just want women to poo”, before gracefully comparing the trend to “a diarrhoea special of Black Mirror.” Lovely. Really lovely, Jameela. If that doesn’t put you off drinking detox teas, you might be a lost cause. But I’ll make my case regardless.
Let’s spill the tea: detox fads don’t work. The British Dietetic Association (BDA) have repeatedly labelled them a marketing myth. BDA’s spokesperson, Chloe Hall, claims that your best hope is for the product to have no effect. You’ll lose some money, but there’ll be no serious repercussions. Others won’t be so lucky. The following days will involve an embarrassing number of trips to the bathroom and hideous stomach cramps between toilet breaks.
The following days will involve an embarrassing number of trips to the bathroom and hideous stomach cramps between toilet breaks
We’ve all experienced the walk (run, if we’re desperate) of shame as we head, once again, to the bathroom. With this in mind, consuming products that contain laxatives doesn’t seem so glamorous.
Often, detox teas contain an ingredient known as ‘senna’. Few people read the ingredients slapped onto the back of cartons, and fewer people understand what those ingredients actually are, but if you see ‘senna’ listed, alarm bells should start to ring at peak volume.
Senna is a laxative. It’s used to treat constipation. If you have a perfectly healthy, regular body, senna is bound to have negative effects. You might lose a teensy bit of weight, but the aftermath will probably resemble a horror movie (or a diarrhoea episode of Black Mirror).
The problem is that people are less concerned with the side effects than they are with looking like Khloe Kardashian. And if Khloe tells us that there’s a magic beverage that has made her skinny, why wouldn’t we trust her? Kardashian is just one celebrity who has been slammed by Jamil. Iggy Azalea and Cardi B have also made the detox hit list.
We want to be celebrities, we look up to them, we trust them. They break that trust when they promote a slimming product and fail to mention that they’ve also got personal trainers, nutritionists and plastic surgeons on speed dial. Meanwhile, they feed into an atmosphere of body shaming. Celebrities should encourage us to embrace our bodies and be healthy, not promote an overpriced quick fix product to solve our “tummy troubles”.
We want to be celebrities, we look up to them, we trust them
The epic feud between Jamil and detox teas most recently flared up when Urban Outfitters promoted ‘Flat Tummy Tea’ on their Instagram account.
Urban Outfitters heavily markets itself towards young girls. Teenagers flock to the store in masses, so the company should promote inspiring, positive campaigns. Instead, they asked us whether we want to get rid of our flabby stomachs.
As a young teenager, I was not comfortable with my body – I’m still not to this day. If I had seen ‘Flat Tummy Tea’ sitting on the counter of my favourite clothes store, I would have picked it up. If its name was ‘Skinny Thighs Tea’, even better. If Urban Outfitters tell me it’s good, it must work, right? This tea will change my life.
If its name was ‘Skinny Thighs Tea’, even better. If Urban Outfitters tell me it’s good, it must work, right?
And, just like that, I’ve been manipulated into buying a product that, at best, won’t work and, at worst, will give me bouts of diarrhoea. It’s completely wrong to use people’s insecurities for marketing purposes. Urban Outfitters are perpetuating a trend of body shaming, which is already a grotesque problem for our generation. Our Instagram feeds are filled with photos of beautifully slim “influencers”. But they don’t look great because of a detox diet, they look great because of Photoshop.
If you begin to fall for the lure of these magical beverages, stunned by a celebrity posing with tea in their hand and a lovingly crafted caption that says, “This is how I’m so skinny!”, remember that right after taking that photo, they made a desperate sprint to the toilet. Not so glamorous after all.