Lizzo's Smoothie Cleanse Sparks Conversation About Diet Culture

Recently, Lizzo has been candidly sharing her dietary practices with her audience, including her exploration of a raw vegan regimen and her preferred comfort dishes. Most recently, the multi-talented performer opened up about her experience with a more debatable type of dieting: a detox smoothie plan. In one of her TikTok uploads, she showcased clips of herself post-detox for each day of the 10-day green smoothie cleanse designed by nutrition expert JJ Smith.

In another clip, she gave viewers an idea of what a typical day on this cleanse contained: supplements, nutrient-dense "superfood shakes", green smoothies, and snacks such as apples paired with peanut butter, assorted nuts, vegan protein bars, and cucumber slices marinated in apple cider vinegar. An initially displayed caveat advised, "I was employing safe detox methods [with] a nutritionist. Do not attempt without research."

In a voiceover, Lizzo explained her rationale behind her decision to take on the smoothie cleanse. "I consumed plenty of food and drank a lot which upset my stomach during my Mexico trip, so I decided to embark on JJ Smith's 10-day smoothie cleanse," she stated. Her conclusion? "I feel incredible," she proclaimed in the footage. "It's superb to reset your digestive system, particularly if you have gastrointestinal problems like I do. Additionally, I believe I look absolutely stunning too."

Detoxes or cleanses, like the smoothie cleanse popularized by Lizzo, are practices that many critics of current diet culture would rather see disappear, mainly due to their potential harmful effects and the fact that they're unnecessary if the body's organs are functioning correctly. The negative impact of these detox plans was highlighted in the comments of Lizzo's posts documenting her cleanse journey. One user expressed disappointment at the promotion of diet products to a largely young fan base, while another lamented the perpetuation of scams claiming to cleanse the body. Sydney Brodeur-Johnson, Ph.D., L.C.P., who serves as senior director of clinical services at Veritas Collaborative, an institution specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, warns about the triggering effect such posts can have on fans. She explains that this risk exists irrespective of whether weight loss is cited as the motivation behind the cleanse. While Lizzo defended her actions by saying it was a way to reset after overindulgence, Brodeur-Johnson notes that this behavior normalizes harmful cycles of binging and restricting. Features akin to disordered eating include extreme restrictions in food intake, obsessive calorie-counting, or excessive exercising.

Despite Lizzo's statement about her smoothie cleanse being supervised by a nutritionist, there's a concern that many who view her posts won't have access or won't seek professional advice. Some might try to emulate the singer's lifestyle without medical guidance, a worry voiced by Brodeur-Johnson. Regardless of whether a person has a professional guide or not, any diet plan focusing on a singular food type - be it tacos or smoothies - doesn’t offer the nutritional balance and satisfaction the body demands. "Celebrities, like Lizzo, wield great influence and their actions impact not only them but also many others," says Brodeur-Johnson. The pattern of celebrities endorsing diet products and the subsequent criticism is nothing new. Yet, while people are quick to condemn the Kardashians for such endorsements, Lizzo's smoothie cleanse seems to provoke more discussion than direct backlash. Interestingly, some individuals offer an alternate viewpoint on Lizzo's smoothie cleanse. Licensed therapist Alishia McCullough shared on Instagram that majority of Lizzo's critics are cisgender, thin, white women with no experience of living in a fat, Black body. McCullough argues that these criticisms dehumanize Lizzo, reducing her to her actions rather than acknowledging her full humanity. McCullough insists that Lizzo deserves to have her own journey, free from judgment and reminds critics to address the real issue here - racism - instead of blaming 'diet culture'.

In a recent TikTok video, Lizzo opened up about her choice to undertake a smoothie cleanse and share the journey with her followers. She expressed that she would usually feel hesitant and embarrassed about sharing this kind of content online, due to societal expectations that if a larger person is making lifestyle changes it must be for drastic weight loss. However, this wasn't the case for her. The stress of November led her to consume a lot of alcohol and spicy food which took a toll on her stomach, and she wanted to reverse the impact. She clarified in her video, "I'm a big girl who did a smoothie detox and I wanted to share that with you guys," emphasizing that she achieved what she set out to do. Further, she asserted that every big girl should have the freedom to do whatever they want with their bodies. Learn more here.

Lizzo expressed her views on the controversy in a subsequent post: "I put my body through a detox, and I'm still plus-sized," she stated. (Note: Detoxes don't actually purify your body.) "I appreciate my body, and yet, I am still plus-sized. I am attractive and I remain plus-sized. These aspects do not contradict each other. To those who consider me as an inspiration, I urge you not to deprive yourselves of food. I didn't starve myself. I nourished myself with vegetables, water, fruits, proteins, and sunlight. You don't need to follow this path to be healthy or beautiful. This was my approach. You have the freedom to forge your own path."

In another TikTok, she expressed a similar sentiment: "I've spent so much time in this body, and I am no different than you: still struggling to find balance, still trying to mend my relationship with food, my anxiety, and my back fat," she said in a voiceover.

"It gets easier," continued Lizzo. "I've spent my hardest days trying to love me. If I have any advice, it is to eat, drink, move, rest. Your job is to grow. Your job is to figure it out along the way. Regardless of what I or any so-called expert says, you love you. And I hope you remember that."

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