To state the obvious: Kim Kardashian is not new to the Instagram promotion game. In between her slew of famous selfies occasionally lies a paid ad for gummy hair vitamins, waist trainers or Calvin Klein. But on Tuesday, the backlash to one of her #spon posts was particularly nasty.
While the photo seems innocuous enough—a zoomed in shot of Kardashian staring into the camera while sucking on a red lollipop—the caption really got fans fired up.
"#ad You guys... @flattummyco just dropped a new product. They're Appetite Suppressant Lollipops and they're literally unreal. They're giving the first 500 people on their website 15% OFF so if you want to get your hands on some... you need to do it quick! #suckit," Kim originally wrote in the since-deleted snap.
The retaliation was swift, as followers pointed out that appetite suppressants aren't healthy and can send a particularly harmful message to the 111 million impressionable fans that watch Kardashian's every move.
Even others in Hollywood have weighed in on it all. The Good Place's Jameela Jamil was one of the first to criticize Kardashian's promotional choice.
"No. Fuck off. No. You terrible and toxic influence on young girls," she tweeted. "This family makes me feel actual despair over what women are reduced to."
She added, "MAYBE don’t take appetite suppressors and eat enough to fuel your BRAIN and work hard and be successful. And to play with your kids. And to have fun with your friends. And to have something to say about your life at the end, other than 'I had a flat stomach.'”
To get a better idea of the dangers and risks surrounding appetite suppressors, InStyle spoke to Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, registered dietitian and resident nutrition expert at Betches Media.
"Appetite suppressants may help individuals lose weight in the short term but it’s really just an illusion," she says. "The day someone stops taking the suppressants, their natural hunger hormone, known as gherlin, will return and often with a vengeance. This may result in subsequent weight gain due to the swift metabolic disturbances taking place in the body."
"So yes, appetite suppressants are dangerous and bad," she explains.
Beckerman added that artificial suppressants (including powders, laxatives and yes, lollipops), are particularly dangerous as they "temporarily disrupt the hardwiring in our brains to tell us not to be hungry."
"In fact, they are manufactured in a lab with synthetic chemicals, coloring and dyes which mean they are particularly damaging to our brains and our general health," she says.
Beckerman also clarified that the dark side of appetite suppressants has consequences beyond diet—including mental health implications.
"This type of behavior to help promote weight loss can often lead to not just disordered eating but studies have shown that those with disordered eating have a higher chance of developing mental disorders such as personality disorders, depression and anxiety," she notes. "Plus, there is a higher chance of long term negative body image, unhealthy weight control behaviors and overall body dissatisfaction in those who have a form of disordered eating."
But wait, there's more! Turns out artificial suppressants can become potentially addictive in the long term because people may see quick but unsustainable results, Beckerman says.
The Kardashians have historically used their social media platforms to promote diet and weight loss products (remember Fit Tea?), and it's pretty unclear why this was the tipping point for her followers. But regardless, let this be a lesson: the Kim K stamp of approval doesn't necessarily indicate the healthiest option.
—With reporting by Sam Reed