The Kim Kardashian West brand took another sensational turn last week when the internet erupted about a post on her Instagram account.

In it, Kardashian advertised an appetite suppressant to her army of followers. Naturally, people weren’t happy.

Her post said: “You guys… @flattummyco just dropped a new product. They’re Appetite Suppressant Lollipops and they’re literally unreal,” along with a discount offer.

Kardashian has a strong following among young women and teenagers, and the problem of body pressures taking women down a spiral of eating disorders and mental ill health is hardly a secret.

Ex-Radio 1 presenter Jameela Jamil let rip at Kardashian, calling her a “terrible and toxic influence on young girls”.

Part of me was bemused, however, because Kardashian was already known for having taken diet pills in the past. Indeed, the editors of Shape magazine once had to issue an explanation on why they’d seen fit to carry an interview with the star when taking diet pills wasn’t in keeping with the preferred ‘good diet and plenty of exercise’ message.

Furthermore, Kim and her sisters Khloe and Kourtney were the subject of a lawsuit in 2012 after angry customers concluded that the trio’s endorsement of a brand of over-the-counter diet pills had led them to believe they worked. Clearly, the customers didn’t agree.

The internet has the memory of a goldfish, but the past at least partly explains why Kardashian seemed to do the unthinkable. For her, it simply wasn’t all that out of the ordinary, it’s just that this was the first time a lot of people noticed.

Regardless, and understandably, people were disappointed. After the ‘size zero’ frenzy in noughties, it felt like the never ending race towards ultimate thinness was going to end in the extinction of women. Our magazines and catwalks were filled with the skeletal frames of women who looked close to imminent death or collapse. We could see their bones in celeb bikini snaps, and models began resembling coat hangers with heads. This was deeply unhealthy, and it didn’t look good. It was also unsustainable – it could only have been a matter of time before the celebrity and fashion industries would have mounting deaths on their hands.

Then came a change. The pressure on women to be thin was still there - and it was just as unrealistic and unreasonable as it ever was - but something else started to emerge, and Kim Kardashian was a figure head for it.

She made curves – big ones – popular again. She appeared in risqué photographs showcasing her voluptuous figure. She was confident and beautiful. It all felt remarkably against the grain. We also saw the rise in popularity of fitness and the ‘fit not skinny’ generation of women who want to be healthy and strong. Finally, some newer role models for young women and girls were emerging in the pages of magazines.

They may not have been perfect role models – we should, of course, be teaching women that beauty and image is a superficial thing and how their face looks on any given day really isn’t all that important – but it was at least doing something to grind against the dangerous size zero culture.

But brand Kardashian is lacking in feminist punch. While exuding confidence, curves and beauty, Kardashian herself is still just as much a victim of body-shaming pressures as the young girls she’s now advertising appetite suppressants to.

That’s the saddest thing about it. Kardashian became an online punch bag in the aftermath of her Instagram posts, with people wailing about her recklessness and financial greed. But I say the truth is that her life is a vicious cycle. Her career is based on beauty and fashion, and being reliant on that industry means playing the game. Her fame and fortune does not mean that she is somehow outwith or above the pitfalls of her industry, and shouting at her on the internet probably isn’t the nicest way to treat a woman who’s admitted taking diet pills in the past.

She’s irresponsible, yes, but she’s not responsible for the much wider problem, and I doubt the social media backlash will do much to address the insecurities and fears that lead Kardashian and her followers down a path that harms them.


It’s official, we’re in the middle of a hate epidemic. For the first time last week, Facebook published figures detailing the number of posts it has had to delete for breaking the rules on hate speech, violence, terrorism and sex. In the first three months of the year, the social network dealt with around 29 million posts. Yes, 29 million. And that’s not even all of them, that’s just the ones Facebook’s 15,000 human moderators and AI algorithms could handle. Social media has gone very wrong and the problem is so widespread it’s going to be very difficult to tackle it. If the social networks have any sense they’ll halt their development plans and plunge all their resources into fixing this dangerous problem.