Why Detox Teas Shouldn’t Be Capitalizing on Girls’ Insecurities

Last month, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal called for a federal investigation into the companies that produce detox teas. News of the demand went viral on Twitter, and even gained attention from actress Jameela Jamil [a well-known advocate against such products]. 

Detox teas and other weight-loss supplements [like appetite suppressant lollipops] are promoted online by celebrities and social media influencers. The problem with this marketing strategy? Very few [if any] of these products are regulated by the U.S Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. 

LVNG Limitless contributor and soon-to-be Registered Dietician, Leah Maxey, explains the importance of our food and supplements being approved by the FDA in a previous blog post. She adds, “They’re not regulated and no one knows what’s actually in them half the time.”

Though it may be obvious to many people that unregulated weight-loss products are nothing more than a capitalistic scam, a lot of impressionable young women still fall victim to these companies’ false promises. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve tried detox teas in the past and neither are Jess Deyo [our own copy editor] and Alicia Heninger [our co-founder]. 

Last semester, Jess bought Zerotea, a detox tea off of Amazon to try to lose water weight before a beach vacation. The tea cleanse was meant to be taken three times a day to suppress hunger. In turn, Jess wasn’t consuming as many calories as her body needed to sustain her very active lifestyle. The flavor of the tea wasn’t even good, Jess says, remembering how she would have to force herself to finish the drink. “I know so many girls who’ve tried it and I’ve never seen anything good come from it,” she says. 

Alicia was one of those many girls when she tried Skinny Tea’s 28-day teatox. “I wanted to lose a substantial amount of weight in an impossible amount of time,” she says. But, after only a week of drinking the tea three times a day [and intense stomach pain], Alicia gave up on the cleanse. Not only was she feeling sick, but, like Jess, Alicia couldn’t stomach the taste of the tea. After deciding the cons of the product outweighed the pros, Alicia discarded the cleanse, feeling immensely disheartened.

When I was in high school, I had a similar mindset to Jess and Alicia. I was very self-conscious of the way I looked, had low self-esteem and thought “I just need to lose a few pounds.” After a celebrity promoting Teami tea, a “natural detox tea” showed up on my Instagram feed, I figured it was worth a try. The two teas [one for the morning, one for the night] were meant to provide energy [i.e. now I could substitute my sugary coffee and creamer] and increase metabolism. I bought the 30-day cleanse and lasted only about a week. Again, the taste of the tea was so bad that I could barely force myself to drink it. 

Though I didn’t finish the cleanse and therefore cannot speak to its effectiveness, I did realize one thing: the ads I saw on my social media feed were playing to my insecurities and I had fallen into the trap. Just like so many other young girls. 

Whether or not the supplements work and whether or not they are FDA regulated, the fact of the matter is this: girls, should not be taught from such a young age to rely on supplements and products to live a healthy lifestyle. Promoting these products only furthers the notion that there’s only one kind of “healthy” for women [the skinny, low-weight kind]. 

Healthy does not have only one look, it looks different on each individual person, which Leah says is sustained by a healthy and balanced diet [with real food] and an exercise regimen. On top of that, “Your body naturally detoxes itself, so products like this aren’t necessary.”

Fortunately, the body positive movement has been growing and proving that healthy is not synonymous with skinny.

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As a senior studying magazine journalism at Ohio University and a passionate feminist, I created Freely Femme as a way to use my love for storytelling to highlight some of the most inspirational women in my personal life and beyond.

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