This paper focuses on the issues relating to how different visual media have informed and shaped society. Specifically, the short analysis focuses on the negative outcomes of weight loss products that are advertised and promoted by famous reality TV stars, for instance, Kim Kardashian, on social media platforms such as Instagram. The images she posts on her platform suggest that if one buys the products one will achieve a body shape that looks just like Kim Kardashian.
However, as most people may know, she has had extensive cosmetic/plastic surgeries that allowed her to have this body, and it is therefore highly unlikely that the products she advertises are going to have the same effects. It is therefore vital to highlight how different visual media, like online advertisements on social media platforms by famous stars, have informed and shaped society positively or negatively. This is conducted through an analysis that puts forward the problems surrounding the controversial advertisement of weight loss products on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account.
How have weight loss products advertised by Kim Kardashian on Instagram informed and shaped society?
One might like to say ‘beauty is pain’, which is in reference to the French saying ‘one must suffer to be beautiful’ (Murphy, 2021). To be honest, famous people like Kim Kardashian have definitely suffered to achieve a beauty standard that seems almost impossible to have. Since this beauty standard, she has kind of created, is impossible to achieve naturally it is implied that most of her looks have been attained through enhanced cosmetic/plastic surgery (Gerates, 2022).
This indicates why her online advertisement of weight loss beauty products is demonstrating an untrue reality to her followers. Kim Kardashian has a staggering 334 Million followers on Instagram, which makes her one of the most followed people on this platform. However, having such a high following amount also means that she has an immense influence on society. Anything that Kim Kardashian posts is interpreted as a meaningful or transformative broadcast (Wegenstein & Ruck, 2011). This suggests that her posts are therefore influencing most of the online society and maybe offline as well.
This demonstrated influence Kim has on society, should imply that she would consider carefully what she will post online since she has an authoritative presence on social media platforms. However, the opposite can be found to be true. Kim has been branded many times as a ‘toxic influence’, because of the controversial weight loss products she has been advertising for a long time (BBC News, 2018). The product she has been advertising is pictured in Figure 1, which is a dieting lollipop that is supposed to suppress one's hunger.
The posts suggest that if a person wants to have a body that is curvaceous with a flat tummy, the lollipop will be one way to achieve this look (Hinde, 2018). The only problem that is not put forward, is that there is no science behind these weight loss products (Geraets, 2022). No one including Kim has lost weight, maintained weight or attained a healthy body through hunger suppressant lollipops (Geraets, 2022). Kim's advertisement of this product is thus a questionable act.
Kim’s controversial approach to influencing society online can be compared to research conducted on "the gaze [to be] projected onto a screen that a culture looks at and, most of all, believes in" (pg. 28, Wegenstein & Ruck, 2011). The article focuses mostly on people undergoing beauty transformation, also dubbed as the makeover culture, and how different visual media display the before and after effects of it (Wegenstein & Ruck, 2011). According to Wegenstein and Ruck (2011), this makeover culture implies a focus on the "strict connection between a beautiful body and a beautiful soul" (pg.46, Wegenstein & Ruck, 2011). Overall, the article suggests that beauty is not found in a natural manner, as it used to be in Galton’s photography of the represented body, but now the body has undergone cosmetic surgery and television angles display something that is ultimately created by media itself. In their eyes, true authentic beauty is created through a television experience and the entertained viewer, which indicates that there is no reality in this construct of beauty (Wegenstein & Ruck, 2011).
In conclusion, this also somewhat relates to how weight loss products advertised by Kim Kardashian on Instagram inform and shape society. Kim is creating a before-and-after makeover culture by advertising this lollipop product, which is to lose weight by suppressing hunger. The before and after effects are that the before is a normal body that becomes afterwards Kim’s body, which can happen apparently through a lollipop. This form of advertisement is a ‘harmful message’ to society because it displays a reality that is not true (Hinde, 2018). That kind of untrue reality created by a post from Kim is similar to the reality created that is found in the research conducted, as stated by Wegenstein and Ruck (2011). Overall, it is evident to evince that weight loss products advertised by Kim Kardashian on Instagram have informed and shaped society in a perhaps more negative manner.
BBC News. (2018, May 16). Kim Kardashian called “toxic” for advertising diet lollipop. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-44137700
Wegenstein, B. & Ruck, N. (2011). Physiognomy, Reality Television and the Cosmetic Gaze. Body & Society. Vol 17, Issue 4: 27–55 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1357034X11410455
Geraets, N. (2022, October 4). How many times have the Kardashians tried to sell us dodgy health products? The Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/how-many-times-have...
Hinde, N. (2018, May 17). Kim Kardashian West Slammed For Instagram Post Promoting Appetite Suppressant Lollipops. HuffPost UK. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/kim-kardashian-west-slammed-for-p...
Kardashian, K. (2018, May 16). Instagram picture. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bi0NTablmo4/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_rid=b8e9...
Murphy, J. (2021, September 9). Beauty is Pain. The Outlook. https://outlook.monmouth.edu/2015/11/beauty-is-pain/