Exploiting PCOS to promote diet culture: Why Gemma Collins’ collaboration with Skinny Jab is shameful.

From the Cambridge Diet to Atkins, Boo Tea (aka Poo Tea – if you know, you know) and appetite-suppressing lollipops, diets and weight loss products are constantly plastered all over social media. Some have their benefits – usually a quick weight loss – but many have their hidden dangers. We’ve all seen celebrities promote them, from the Kardashian clan to Cardi B, popping pills and sipping tea seems to be a ‘revolutionary’ (I use that word very lightly) way to lose weight. The latest that has graced our timeline is that of ‘Skinny Jab’ – a daily injection that, by their own admission, ‘removes hunger from the equation. Using a tried and tested medical revolution, which act as an appetite suppressant, the Skinny Jab plan can reduce your hunger, allowing you to eat less while avoiding the cravings for those troublesome snacks.’. Effectively, Skinny Jab acts like an insulin pen – you stab it in and you feel more full.

You may or may not have seen Skinny Jab circulating your social media; it has for a while been promoted by Kerry Katona, however more recently and in front of a following three and a half times the size (arguably a much younger, more impressionable following), Skinny Jab has been endorsed by the one and only GC… Gemma Collins. For those of you who don’t necessarily know who Gemma Collins is, you may have been living under a rock, but for those of you who do (and likely fall into the marmite category of love or hate), she is a well known cast member of ‘The Only Way is Essex’. So, where is the issue? Once again these diet products are being thrust upon young, easily influenced people, adding to the stigma that to be happy, you must fit a conventional norm, you must lose weight and you must look like the ‘ideal’. Body shaming and the indoctrination of young people into believing they must look a certain way has been strife within society for years on end, however Gemma Collins – who is well known for being a larger frame – has always promoted body positivity. So, is promoting a quick, unsustainable weight loss fix really a way to promote body confidence? I am a strong believer that it is possibly to be body confident, body positive and still want to lose weight, however I do believe that using a fad diet, a ‘detox tea’, or a man made medicine is really not the way to go. What makes it even more astounding is how many people sit and question the potential COVID-19 vaccine on the basis they don’t know what’s in it, how quickly it will have been made, and how little they know about it, and yet a celebrity takes a nice selfie and tells them to buy a tablet or a drink, or in this case an injection, because it will make you ‘skinny’, and without a second thought it’s being consumed. My second issue, particularly with Gemma Collins promoting Skinny Jab, is how it has been followed up with a post regarding her PCOS. Let me explain…

@SkinnyJab

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a condition that impacts the way in which a woman’s ovaries work. It is estimated, according to the NHS, to impact approximately 1 in 5 women within the UK. PCOS generally leads to irregular, often more painful periods, meaning you are not ovulating as regularly as you should be. It causes excess androgen – effectively more male hormones – causing symptoms that can be highly embarrassing such as excess facial or body hair (tweezers = a girls best friend), and thirdly, fluid filled sacs (follicles) surrounding the eggs, enlarging the ovaries. One of the side effects of PCOS, other than oily skin, thinning hair, infertility… is weight gain and difficulty losing it. PCOS for many women can be deliberating. Those who have followed my blog for a little while will know that PCOS is one of the conditions that have rendered me infertile. Whilst it wasn’t the main antagonist, it has led to a lump of symptoms that frankly, I’d rather be without.

PCOS absolutely can make weight gain easy and weight loss harder. However, are these injections really the way to go? I cannot help but feel that Gemma has used this condition to exploit the women who also suffer in order to make more sales, and ultimately create cash in her pocket. Gemma has undeniably lost weight – you can take one look at her Instagram page to see this – however how much weight has been down to the jabs? I suppose we will never quite know. It is easy to get sucked in on Instagram, we are all both victim and suspect to the case. Lighting, certain clothing, the angles we take the photo from and the poses we create are all incredibly capable of creating a perfectly ‘catfish’ photo. I do not doubt her struggle with PCOS at all, however using this to sell a product specifically designed to lose weight I strongly disagree with. Women are shamed for not conforming to the societal expectations of body image all the time, are expected to be smooth and not display body hair, both things that people with PCOS can find extremely hard. When their self confidence is already taking a battering, why not use your platform to raise awareness of the issue, empower those who suffer, and form an ally? Instead, Gemma has chosen to convince these women that injecting themselves full of rubbish will be the answer to their problems. Gemma didn’t create a post about Skinny Jab and state it would solve PCOS, however, when you have posted a diet product and then followed it up with a post regarding the PCOS, how it is the single handed ‘reason’ as to why she put on weight, it’s hard not to see the correlation. To me, it screamed ‘inject your stomach and barely eat’… I can’t be the only one to see the problem with this narrative.

Skinny Jab’s main ingredient is ‘Liraglutide’, a drug that until researching Skinny Jab, I had never heard of in my life. The drug was first created in the USA just six years ago and was created with the intention of assisting gravely obese people and type 2 diabetics lose weight. It is sold using the names ‘Saxenda’ and ‘Victoza’. It has been prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes as it can help to regulate blood sugar levels. However, what Skinny Jab doesn’t tell you is that on the NHS, Liraglutide can only be prescribed to a patient that has a BMI of over 30. Skinny Jab will prescribe to anyone who has a BMI of 25 or over. Many of the side effects of Liraglutide include things like constipation, diarrhoea, gallbladder disorders, vomiting, toothache, skin reactions, insomnia, headaches and belly ache, heart issues, kidney problems, pancreatitis and dehydration. Is it really worth it? Skinny Jab has not been around long enough for long-term research to be conducted, and neither has Liraglutide itself. There is, however, suggestion that the jabs can trigger gravely dangerous conditions such as thyroid cancer and hypoglycaemic episodes. At what point is injecting yourself in the stomach desirable, anyway? Take it from someone who has had two rounds of IVF… it isn’t fun, your body becomes tired, your stomach starts to bruise, you get fed up, and it’s really not something I recommend doing without a bloody good cause.

It is well known that diet products such as Skinny Jab are far from sustainable and unless you have the funds, which you likely don’t if you are a regular working person, to continue forking out hundreds of pounds for these jabs, the suppressant will soon wear off and the hunger will soon return. Your body is  not meant to be starved. For people like myself with PCOS, we all know that the weight gain is never a slow return. The phrase ‘a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’ could not be more true. I have always loved food and this will never, ever change for me. However, I am aware now more than ever that having a balanced, good diet, a calorie deficit and exercising is truly the only way I will manage my weight.

There are so many nutritionists, both online and on platforms such as Instagram, that create diet plans and offer advice for people with PCOS that are NOT trying to exploit you, are NOT suggesting you stick needles into your body and deprive yourself of good, but in fact are offering you healthy choices, good snacks, and food that can naturally help to control your symptoms without a) breaking the bank and b) injecting substances to stop yourself wanting food.

I am sorry that Gemma Collins is living with PCOS. We all feel her pain and we all understand how horrible this condition can be at times, however I am more sorry that she feels she has to use it and exploit other women living with the same issues to generate some money in her pockets.

The diet culture is truly shambolic.

Love, Amber xx

SOME PCOS FRIENDLY INSTAGRAM NUTRITION PAGES:
@thewomensdietitian @what_mollymade @the_dietologist @defeatpcos @the.pcos.dietitian @fitfoodieselma

@amberinateacup

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