KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — Medical experts criticised the wellness culture on Instagram for contributing to cultural pressure on women to be thin.
Marriage and family therapist Kristi Hall, who specialises in treating eating disorders, told The Huffington Post that wellness trends were mired in discriminatory social structures like fatphobia.
“The wellness culture on Instagram is so damaging because it’s so fear based. It’s saying, ‘If you don’t eat a certain way, you’re going to have bad skin or a bad body’,” Hall was quoted saying.
“It’s masquerading as health and wellness when in fact it’s the same message as always: that smaller equals healthier.”
The Huffington Post reported that Instagram wellness accounts could be contributing to eating disorders like orthorexia (obsession with clean eating) and frequently spread dubious health claims.
The US website reported that Loni Jane Anthony, a vegan wellness influencer with more than 400,000 followers on Instagram, has received backlash in Australian media for eating vegan while pregnant and for giving her son mostly fruits and vegetables.
“Vegan-lifestyle enthusiast” Essena O’Neill reportedly received death threats after she deleted all her social media accounts in 2015 because they made her “lost” and “sick”.
Charlotte Markey, a psychologist and the founder of the Health Sciences Center at Rutgers University, told The Huffington Post that most people with Instagram wellness accounts did not have a medical background.
“So much of this is just people who look good (and seem to know it) and think they’ve found the holy grail of health and weight loss,” Markey was quoted saying.
“That’s why we do research on this stuff. Hundreds and thousands of people are included in this research over time. What scientists learn from research is more likely to be useful and directive than what an Instagram guru suggests.”
Picture credit: Vegan Liftz.