Another day, another Kardashian scandal.
Kim Kardashian West was met with backlash when she posted an image of herself sucking on an “appetite suppressant lollipop” to Instagram on Tuesday. The sponsored post referred to the lollipops as “literally unreal” and promised 15 percent off to the first 500 people who purchased them from a company called Flat Tummy Co. She eventually deleted the image, likely in reaction to criticism of her promoting unhealthy eating habits, but it remains on her Instagram story (which automatically disappears after 24 hours).
Like many others, “The Good Place” actress Jameela Jamil shared images of the post on Twitter and lambasted Kardashian West for being a “terrible and toxic influence on young girls.” She followed up with another tweet that encouraged the socialite to avoid appetite suppressors and “eat enough to fuel your BRAIN and work hard and be successful. And to play with your kids. And to have fun with your friends. And to have something to say about your life at the end, other than ‘I had a flat stomach.’ *exploding head emoji*”
(The Washington Post has reached out to Kardashian West’s representatives for comment.)
Not nearly as many people’s heads exploded when Tori Spelling also shared an image of the lollipops Tuesday — but that could be because Spelling has 1 million followers on Instagram, whereas Kardashian West has a jaw-dropping 111 million. She and her sisters — namely Kylie Jenner, who reportedly receives $1 million or more for each #sponsored or #ad post — lead Instagram’s army of “influencers,” or beautiful people paid boatloads of money to promote products on their social media.
But these aren’t regular products. They are cool products, like appetite-suppressing lollipops, meal-replacing shakes and, yes, even butt-enhancing creams. Sponsored Instagram ads are the Kardashian-Jenner clan’s most prominent attempts to get you to buy things that make you want to laugh out loud and weep for humanity at the same time. They have done this before and in other venues, sometimes with their own creations.
Please join us as we revisit the most memorable.
We’ll begin with the butt-centric products, as it was unfair to breeze past that earlier. In 2011, Kardashian West starred in a Super Bowl commercial for Skechers Shape-Ups that equated the shoes with a personal trainer. Wear these monstrous shoes, the ad implied, and you will magically lose weight and strengthen your stomach and glute muscles. Shape-Ups always seemed like a scam, but they became an Official Scam when the Federal Trade Commission cited this specific commercial as evidence that Skechers had deceived its customers. The company paid $40 million in 2012 to settle the charges.
Jenner divulged her “beauty secrets” in 2015 by sharing photos of her cleavage and rear with the hashtag #curvesonfleek. PureLeef’s all-natural butt-enhancing cream and breast-plumping lotion “stimulate fat cells in the target areas,” she wrote, to which a commenter responded, “It’s time to stop lying.” Regardless whether Jenner’s curves are, in fact, on fleek, we are pretty sure the lotion has nothing to do with it.
Those who live on the edge may have been swayed by the family’s many attempts to get you to put these products in your body, too. Kardashian West told us how much she loved Flat Tummy Co. earlier in the year when she posed in a dirty kitchen with a meal replacement shake wearing nothing but undergarments: “I’m on Day 9 of my Shake It Baby program from @flattummyco and I’m actually feeling so good,” she wrote. “We had a massive Christmas this year and between my Mom’s party, Christmas and New Years … I felt like it was impossible to fit in my regular work outs and eat healthy.”
As the lollipop backlash suggests, relying on meal replacement shakes isn’t all that healthy, either. And it echoes another Kardashian scandal from 2010 that involved the three oldest daughters’ endorsement of the diet regimen QuickTrim. The sisters were sued for $5 million in 2012 by four people who used QuickTrim and claimed the marketing was “false, misleading and unsubstantiated,” according to Reuters. There is no scientific evidence to prove that QuickTrim works, and a 2011 study found that the colon cleanses can cause cramping, even kidney failure.
Not scared yet? How about tea detoxes, which can cause cramping or diarrhea? Or waist trainers, the external equivalent? Pregnant people, please be wary of Diclegis, morning sickness pills the FDA eventually deemed “safe and effective” but not before they chastised Kardashian West for leaving out “risk information or important limitations of use” in her 2015 Instagram post.
The Kardashian–Jenner family members occasionally promote less iffy things, like SugarBearHair vitamins. It’s unclear whether the gummy vitamins strengthen your hair, but they have a four-star rating on Amazon.com and appear to be a bestseller on the site.
Had SugarBearHair existed eight years ago, you would’ve been able to purchase the vitamins with what might be the family’s most egregious business venture of all: the Kardashian Kard. The oldest three sisters nixed their prepaid debit card just a month after its 2010 debut when Richard Blumenthal, then Connecticut’s attorney general, questioned the legality of its “pernicious and predatory fees,” according to CNN. Unlike regular debit cards, which are usually free, the year-long Kardashian Kard cost $99.95 to own — plus a $9.95 purchase fee and $7.95 monthly fees. It also cost cardholders $1 to add any amount of money to their card and $2 to pay bills automatically.
We’ll hand it to the Kardashians for being “fun-loving individuals,” a phrase their attorney considered worthy of including in a termination notice sent to banks after the Kard debacle. But they can’t seem to get product promotion right even when said product is totally fine. Just look to Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial for proof.