How some weight loss programs damage body image

By Klaire Olson

Weight loss companies like Flat Tummy Co emotionally appeal to consumers and exploit body image standards. While the current generation is making great improvements turning away from an “ideal” body image and more towards “ body positivity” there continues to be a socially ingrained association with skinniness and beauty. Meaning that a woman must fit a certain mold in order to be considered attractive in the eyes of society.

Take FlatTummyCo for example, a weight loss management lifestyle company that sells appetite suppressant teas and lollipops. This company attempts to relate to its demographic with feminine color schemes and friendly language. The language and posts FlatTummyCo uses on its social media and website use conflicting language that does not accurately portray what the companies motives are.

Image result for flat tummy lollipops

 Terms like “ inclusive” are used on the companies website and Instagram page to “include women of all shapes and sizes”, yet they are promoting a “ Flat Tummy Lifestyle”. Which is clearly contradicting, and creates a question of how inclusive they could really be. Flat Tummy Co also uses encouraging terms like “ You got it babe!” and “ It’s time to Freaking own it!” implying that it is time to own and love your body, even though their products are intended to change the way a body looks. By suppressing appetite and making women skinnier- not necessarily healthier. When looking and superficially auditing a company’s social media page it is important to understand that their #1 goal is to sell a product- not to be your friend. This company cleverly uses language that makes it seem like the company is talking to you as a friend, even though it likely does not have women’s best interests in mind. This company is amplifying body image issues, rather than actually helping women who want to get healthier and lose weight. With products like lollipops that are supposed to replace a meal, any nutritionist would argue that cutting out healthy meals for empty supplements isn’t the best way to go about a healthy lifestyle.

Yet, millions of women are following and buying these products because FlatTummyCo is very good at telling women what they want to hear. The Instagram account @flattummyco has 1.7 million followers and uses an ambassador program style of advertising. They use real women as their ambassador, who try their products and send in pictures of their personal results.

So are real women seeing real results meaning that their product is making them healthier and happier? Or is it disregarding healthy means and just promoting “ flat tummy” body image stereotypes?

This Article Has 7 Comments
  1. Em Chan says:

    Oh gosh, even just looking at the packaging makes me SO mad at this company! I completely side with you on the fact they’re just making women skinny, rather than healthy, which is so UN-healthy! I think the worst part is that they use influencers and ambassadors to make themselves seem more #relateable just for the bottom line. I personally considered for a long time in getting these products because one of my favorite YouTubers (at the time) was “using” them and then falling into a really unhealthy state of mind trying to achieve skinniness…
    These “ambassadors” are usually not even using these products in getting skinnier, they actually can afford things like time to work out, trainers, nutritionists and equipment to maintain a sustainable, healthy life and body – which usually happens to be skinny and in the socially acceptable proportions. There is nothing I detest more than deceptive marketing tactics for causes as dangerous as unsustainable, unhealthy and “guaranteed” weight loss.

  2. Molly Kavanaugh says:

    I completely agree that these companies are promoting body image issues on social media. Rather than promoting healthy eating habits, these companies are using influencers to promote weight loss using their supplements, which they also drastically overcharged for. By using people who are well known, like the Kardashians, these companies influence people to buy products that may not even are be beneficial for their health in the long-run.

  3. Miranda Menard says:

    I think this is an important issue- thank you for sharing!

    I have thought similar things when seeing advertisements for the Flat Tummy Tea products. My main concerns, in addition to the fact that the company is trying to promote self love for women but really telling them that they need to change their bodies and have “flat tummies”, is that they have used celebrity partners to sell their products. I see this as an issue, because celebrities have great influence over women, especially young women, and have resources far beyond Flat Tummy products to look the way that they do. These partnerships are setting unrealistic expectations for users. This is bad for women’s body image and the Flat Tummy company.

  4. Ofuma Eze-Echesi says:

    I agree with your stance on the misleading motive of the brand. I think the company’s brand name “Flat Tummy” is their key marketing strategy. Whether its deceiving or not, it serves as a marketing tag line to attract customers/ females interested in losing weight and achieving their body goals, which is, unfortunately legal. However, the company doesn’t force anyone to completely adopt their weightloss/ hunger-suppressing plan. I think a lot of people know, what a healthy diet or lifestyle entails, and some of the Flat Tummy customers may purchase some of their products as an addition to their lifestyle. For example, someone who has a healthy diet and wants a low sugar alternative to a bag of lollipops or Haribos may buy the flat tummy lollipop instead, which may reduce their sugar cravings. The main concern is the quality and authenticity of the ingredients. Would the products perform their proposed functions?

  5. Bridget Kraus says:

    This a very important issue that you touched in well. I agree that this company is manipulative and misleading by promoting a “Flat Tummy” as their actual name for their brand. It definitely seems like the company is not trying to help girls find healthy ways to lose weight like eating well and exercising, but are instead encouraging them to lose weight by using influencers and and their ‘flat tummy’ tagline. The company basically tells women that they need to look a certain way to be healthy and look good in their bodies. And their use of celebrity partnering as a marketing strategy also has an impact on women and young girls because people who they look up to are using the product. I think it is an overall negative way to promote weight loss.

  6. Sara Espinosa says:

    I personally hate these type of ads on social media. I feel that we, as seasoned college students in our early 20’s, were kind of late to the game when it came to unhealthy weight loss ads in social media. What scares me is that the younger generation practically grew up seeing them on their smartphones. Seemingly-“fit” influencers are also part of the problem. By not showing the amount of hours spent in the gym and the professional nutrition plan they follow, they lead young girls to believe that all of their “problems” can go away by drinking this tea or taking this pill. It’s honestly sickening and makes me worry about the future of “weight-loss” solutions. What companies like Flat Tummy are doing is preying on insecurity and selling eating disorders.

  7. Molly Garcia says:

    Flat Tummy and other weight loss companies like this are a total scam! Theses companies prey on many women’s insecurities to sell the product. They use influencers like the Kardashians to promote the products to say “if you use this product you’ll look like the Kardashians.” Obviously the Kardashians do not use these weight loss products as they can afford the best personal trainers, nutritionists and plastic surgeons. By using high-profile influencers and tricky wording, companies are able to sell products that do not work and further promote insecurities among women.

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