Just last year, a giant pink billboard went up in Times Square instructing women to “just have [a lollipop]” when your body desires life-fueling food. The billboard was for Flat Tummy Lollipops, and reached eyes far from the Crossroads of the World. “EVEN TIMES SQUARE IS TELLING WOMEN TO EAT LESS NOW? Have we actually gone mad?” actress Jameela Jamil (maybe you know her as Tahani on The Good Place) tweeted at the time, questioning the dangerous detox-branded diet supplement industry.
S. Bryn Austin, a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health, lauded Jamil for her efforts recently, saying “Jamil has opened the eyes of millions around the globe to the corrupt and deceptive detox tea market. Arguably, she’s done this more efficiently and expeditiously than a quarter century of well-intentioned but utterly unglamorous communications from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” And her efforts have now reached New York.
According to NY1, Councilman Mark Levine “has introduced legislation to ban the sale of the tea and other similar products to minors after learning about their danger from a staffer whose relative died after consuming them.” Under Levine’s legislation, the unregulated products wouldn’t go away, but purveyors of the product would need to “require proof of ID to purchase the products and impose violations of up to $500 for those caught selling to minors.” It’s unclear how much Levine’s legislation will do to slow down this industry, but it’s a step.
Levine noted that he “learned about the rising prevalence of these products by social media… it’s really Instagram, celebrity endorsers of no less fame than the Kardashians who have been pushing this.”
Undoubtedly he has seen Jamil’s push for a change, she has been at the forefront of this battle, denouncing fatphobia as well as these detox products across her social media platforms. But her efforts go beyond a few tweets—she also started a campaign called I Weigh, launched a petition, has been open about her own struggles, and consistently challenges those that are hawking items that are damaging. The biggest names on this list being the Kardashian family, who are paid promoters of detox products and teas that act as laxatives; given their large social media followings, they easily push these toxic ideas into the feeds of millions of people. Jamil has called them a “terrible and toxic influence on young girls.” She seems to embody every value that a Kardashian will happily disappear from their conscience if the price is right.
Kim Kardashian responded to Jamil’s criticisms in a NY Times interview recently, saying, “If there is work that is really easy that doesn’t take away from our kids, that’s like a huge priority, if someone was faced with the same job opportunities, I think they would maybe consider… You’re going to get backlash for almost everything so as long as you like it or believe in it or it’s worth it financially, whatever your decision may be, as long as you’re okay with that.”