With the phrase ‘clean eating’ taking over the world (at least my world) and with influencers promoting all sorts of diets and lifestyles (often backed with no professional evidence) I thought I’d voice my thoughts on this topic which is by no means new but is perhaps gripping the wrists and controlling the minds of people in a way we haven’t seen before.
To get all -hopefully obvious- formalities out of the way, promotion of healthy lifestyles and a strive for a healthier community is clearly a good thing. However, here, I’m *attempting* to address a more specific topic – the impact of influencers (youtubers, instragrammers, social media stars and celebrities, etc) in the promotion of ‘clean’ eating and the fanatical type approach and obsession of health.
I’ve noticed this issue for a while now and for ease of examples my biggest reference point is youtube. For those maybe not so aware one of the hundreds of communities on youtube are health-based lifestyle channels, some of which I follow, some of which I stay well clear of. These health-based lifestyle channels are sometimes run by personal trainers, nutritionalists, fitness and health lovers or simply branches of other communities (a.k.a. beauty vloggers) who are deciding to share another segment of their lives.
My main qualm comes down to the audience of these influencers. While this is arguably not true in all cases, young people -particularly from my experience, young girls between say 8 and 18- are the ones falling victim to these sorts of promotions from the influencers they ‘know’, love and trust. From instagrams of goregous acai bowls to meal planning and recipes to make your own healthy snacks (which can often cost a fortune and contain a list of ingredients as long as your arm) for many people these things are unattainable. They may be unattainable because you’re 12 and your mum refuses to buy you pitted medjool dates and hemp powder to make ‘energy balls’, a 19 year old student who really can’t afford the mounds of fresh berries bloggers appear to have at their finger tips or are a 30 something year old mum who really doesn’t have the time to be making acai bowls while getting a two year old ready for playgroup. Either way, the majority of the time when watching and seeing influencers promote these lifestyles I find myself laughing at the sheer impracticality of it or how they appear oblivious to the struggles and barriers between themselves and their audience.
However, having said all that – it’s fine. Just like I follow luxury brands or influencers who specifically review/talk about luxury items, I can deal with aspirational promotion and niche communities. What sets this apart is simple…the word ‘clean’. To me, the word ‘clean’ shouldn’t really be associated with a certain lifestyle or eating choice. By associating ‘clean’ with certain lifestyles/foods you’re essentially implying that other foods/lifestyles are ‘dirty’. A passion and love for maintaining and championing a healthy lifestyle is one thing, but an obsession with health which in turn demeans -whether purposefully or not- those who don’t follow certain lifestyles is something I don’t choose to support.
In attempting to round off my thoughts, here’s more or less what I wrote in my notes: Of course healthy lifestyles should be promoted and are important. However, when obsessive, all-consuming ‘clean eating’ lifestyles are promoted continuously -often by those who are unqualified to be giving certain advice/regimes/etc- then they become a dangerous tool in the hands of people -especially young girls- who, needless to say, are already swamped with expectations and could probably do with a little less pressure to continuously mould their diets and fixate so intently on them in the first place.
NB: I really do hope I’ve managed to articulate myself in the right way. As I’ve attempted to make clear, this isn’t a criticism of any individual in particular, just a trend that I’ve noticed more and more. While I haven’t got a clear cut solution to this (yet!) I do think it’s important to recognise the harm this could potentially/has potentially had on people (without ruling out the waves of goodness I’m certain it has also done!!). In my mind, at least, it’s all about moderation.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions and ideas. Please be respectful though, I know this is a touchy subject!