On December 14, Lizzo posted two reels to her Instagram, documenting her daily “progress” during a 10-day smoothie diet. In the posts, she said she had “drank a lot, and I ate a lot of food that f*cked my stomach up in Mexico,” prompting her to try the cleanse. She documented what she ate and drank during the diet, showing daily pictures of herself to show “results.”
Explaining why she went on the diet, Lizzo said “I think I just wanted to stress eat and do things that were like, kind of self-harming. I think that it’s just great to reset your stomach and reset things, especially when you deal with gastrointestinal issues like I do. But I think I look f*cking great too.”
But many fans were quick to call Lizzo out, noting that her smoothie “detox” promoted diet culture.
“Damn I really thought this was a safe space, but promoting detox and cleanse that is a part of the diet culture,” one commenter wrote on Lizzo’s post.
“This, as they say, ain’t it. Not now, during a year and season when people are struggling extra hard with body issues, and not ever,” someone else wrote.
The comments flooded in, some expressing anger at Lizzo’s choice, while others felt upset to see someone they heralded as a beacon of self-love engaging in diet culture. In response, Lizzo posted a series of Instagram stories, defending her diet, saying weight loss wasn’t the goal.
“As you know I would normally be so afraid and ashamed to post things like this online, because I feel like as a big girl people just expect if you are doing something for health you’re doing it for like, a dramatic weight loss. And that is not the case,” she said. “In reality, November stressed me the f*ck out. I drank a lot, I ate a lot of spicy things and things that f*cked my stomach up, and I wanted to reverse it and get back to where I was.”
“I’m so proud of myself, I’m proud of my results, my sleep has improved, my hydration, my inner peace, my mental stability, my f*cking body, my f*cking skin, the whites of my eyes. I feel and look like a bad bitch, and I think like, that’s it,” she continued. “I’m a big girl who did a smoothie detox, and I wanted to share that with you guys. I got exactly what I wanted out of it, and every big girl should do whatever the f*ck they want with their bodies.”
Lizzo’s right that we should be able to do whatever we want with out bodies, and it’s great that, after a period of stress and gastrointestinal upset, she wanted to change how she ate to feel healthier. But “detox” diets can be harmful, and promote potentially dangerous myths about how our bodies work.
“I would say the bottom line is that there really isn’t any clear evidence that detox or cleansing programs can actually make you healthier or improve your health, or that it removes ‘toxins’ from your body,” Navya Mysore, MD, previously told Teen Vogue about detox diets. Instead of quick-fixes or so-called “resets,” Mysore recommended trying to find balance in your diet by eating healthy, whole foods.
Beyond the lack of evidence in cleanses, a diet like Lizzo’s could be triggering for people with eating disorders. Anything that recommends restricting food is potentially harmful for some people, which wouldn’t be a problem for someone who isn’t in the public eye, but since Lizzo has so many followers, her sharing her diet could be upsetting to some.
Ultimately, Lizzo did nothing really wrong — she made a choice about her own body that she said made her feel good, and that’s her right. She’s one person, and while many idolize her and look up to her for her body acceptance, she’s human. Even the most body positive people have likely succumbed to some part of diet culture, and honestly that’s OK. And, it’s not our place to police her body.
More upsetting than Lizzo’s individual choice is the diet culture that tells us we need to fix our bodies or reset them with products or plans we must buy. Rather than idealizing things like balance in our diets, and self-acceptance for when we indulge in ways that make us crave more of that balance, diet culture tells us a “detox” is the quick fix. In reality, it’s a less-than-scientific way of making us think restricting food means health.