The Toxicity of Influencer Culture
Health and Wellness

The Toxicity Of Influencer Culture

Obsessed with Instagram influencers like the rest of the world? It's time to dig a little bit deeper into the effects of influencer culture and how our favorites may be hurting us rather than inspiring us.

The Toxicity Of Influencer Culture

As a young adult, I am influenced by many people and things within my fairly sheltered environment: my friends, my parents, my professors, bosses; the list is endless. Although anybody in their twenties' tend to share the same influences whether they grew up in the seventies' or the present-day, the bond between Instagram and YouTube celebrities and the normal people of the current generation that follow them is unparalleled. I am one of the greatest victims to the phenomenon of "influencer" culture, from watching Danielle Bernstein's every Instagram story as she talks through her outfits of the day, sporting LoveShackFancy dresses I would only dream to own, to obsessing over Arielle Charnas's two adorable daughters and gorgeous Hamptons home in an Instagram DM group chat with my friends. It is no secret that the fascinations my peers have with people we can only view through a tiny screen is bizarre. This does not stop us from talking about them, DMing about them, buying from their clothing collaborations with Princess Polly and Onia, and most of all, wishing that we could have the life that we see them having in their daily vlogs and posts in partnership with Net-a-Porter.

It is enticing to examine someone else's life through their picturesque Instagram feed, yet it is another thing to buy into it and to take everything they say as the word of a higher, omnipotent being.

An influencer I found myself somewhat recently interested in, Maggie MacDonald, is a twenty-two girl year old living in Boston, Massachusetts. I came across her YouTube channel one day after falling bored of my usual lineup of Olivia Jade (R.I.P.) and Lauren Elizabeth, desperately needing a new beauty or lifestyle vlogger to binge-watch. After watching one of her clothing hauls I instantly liked her; Maggie appeared innocent and genuine, a rarity in the world of L.A. YouTubers convincing their demographic of teenage girls (many of which can be assumed unable to afford a multitude of luxury items) that their various Louis Vuitton handbags are "investment pieces," as if dropping thousands on designer accessories was as blasé as purchasing a library card. Maggie's comforting girl-next-door disposition kept me clicking through her "day in my life" and grocery shopping vlogs, appreciating her seemingly laid-back lifestyle and love for healthy foods and clothing brands I shopped from every season.

It wasn't until the emergence of a new fad by the name of "food combining" that my perception of Maggie and influencer culture began to shift. This past May, Maggie released this video discussing a new lifestyle change she had begun to execute that involved food combining, which, as she states "is not a diet... it's not about losing weight, being skinny... this is truly about feeling your best and living a healthy lifestyle". As a viewer, this description sounds delightful- not to mention Maggie claims that her switch to food combining has led her to "[eat] more than [she] had in the past". Even better! More food! This "lifestyle change" claims to lack the restrictive behavior that most diets require in order to be successful, which automatically depicts food combining as a beacon of light in the sea of dangerous and miserable food regimes. Maggie states all of this in her video, noting how all of her information on food combining came from Kenzie Burke, a certified health coach who coined the Kenzie Burke "21 Day Reset," a wellness plan utilizing the principles of food combining to eliminate bloating and overall help her followers develop a more positive relationship with the food that goes into their bodies. Maggie finally goes into the details of food combining, explaining that fruit must be consumed first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and should not be consumed at any other point in the day, while for lunch and dinner proteins and vegetables and starches and vegetables should be combined together in meals. Additionally, starches and proteins should not be mixed together, leaving those who dare order pasta with chicken in it at an Italian restaurant to suffer the consequences of feeling bloated. The logistics of food combining based on Maggie's explanation appear desirable enough, proving no mention of practices like carb-eliminating or anything similarly dreadful. Her comment section shows that all Maggie needs to do is reiterate how food combining has made her feel "so much lighter, leaner... like [her] head is clear," throughout this one video in order to influence the over 200,000 subscribers to jump on the bandwagon.

Although I was not one of the many interested in starting my own "21 Day Reset," I literally believed every word that Maggie said about food combining. I even began watching Kenzie's videos (which all but one have been recently been deleted off of her channel), and became fascinated with her claimed expertise on this new lifestyle taking over the influencer world. I have no background knowledge on how the digestive system works, except for maybe the basic biology lessons I have since forgotten from seventh grade, so of course I believed every. single. word.

Until I came across this video by another YouTuber a few days ago. Kelani Anastasi is one of the many girls influenced by the likes of Maggie and Kenzie, executing her own 21 Day Reset using food combining. Her video about her own experience with the lifestyle change displays an exact opposite of Maggie's food combining rhetoric, claiming food combining gave her a "flabby" stomach, a less prominent butt, and cellulite, which appeared peculiar to Kelani based on the fact she "[had] never had cellulite in [her] entire life". Based on the suddenness of the changes in her body, Kelani, despite wanting not to believe food combining had anything to do with them, knew something was wrong. Kelani claims that initially, she blamed these newfound symptoms, which included a backed-up digestive system and difficulty sleeping, on a recent change in birth control, to which her gynecologist instantly shot down as a possibility: "Have you switched up your diet lately?" was the big question from her gynecologist that left Kelani questioning whether or not food combining was the real deal.

Kelani explains in her video that a multitude of girls had messaged her privately telling their own horror stories with food combining, complaining of constant bloating, nausea, headaches, and muscle loss. What does Kelani have to say in response to these girls? "I'm enraged for you guys," she declares to her followers through the camera, "I'm mad at myself for believing all of it. I feel brainwashed... I was very jaded... This is the most restrictive way of eating that you could possibly eat". Kelani proceeds to shout out YouTuber Abbey Sharp, who is a Registered Dietician (RD) and whose channel features critiques of modern-day fad diets. With food combining being all anyone is talking about right now, it was only natural Abbey discuss Kenzie Burke's phenomenon. With over 200,000 views, Abbey's video questions Kenzie's knowledge of basic anatomy and how the human digestive system works, while also ridiculing the information Kenzie is relaying to so many of her followers: "These food rules seem really arbitrary at best, and really faulty and problematic at worst." Abbey also stresses the importance of getting health information from a real nutritionist or dietician, not a "health coach" whose maximum schooling lasts from "a few weeks to a month". All in all, both Kelani and Abbey expose the fact that not only is Kenzie unqualified to be selling her food combining regime to such a large population of young women, but she is also blatantly delusional.

After becoming invested in the fraudulence of the food combining movement, I realized, additionally, the sham of yet another phenomenon. The prominence of influencers is something that brands do not take lightly. The explosiveness of the influence of people like Maggie MacDonald and Kenzie Burke is the reason major companies like Aritzia, Net-a-Porter, lululemon, even FIJI water, race to develop partnerships with them, knowing that one Instagram post with their company's page tagged will be enough to send their sales soaring. Influencers, evidently, prove to be both a blessing and a curse, heavily depending on the industry each promotes. In the context of fashion, influencers like Danielle Bernstein and Arielle Charnas can serve as beneficial for young women and girls, emulating how individuality is not only important, but praised, based on the stories they tell of how they gained fame from simply creating and expressing their own personal styles on well-known platforms. On the other hand, health and wellness vloggers venture through dangerous terrain when they preach about using one method to lose weight and another to promote a "healthy" lifestyle. It is up to the popular influencers to choose how they want to impact the demographics that listen to them. Contrarily, it is up to the listeners, viewers, subscribers, and the ones who double-tap every Instagram post with the caption "#ad" to choose how they want to be influenced.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

119 People Reveal How The Pandemic Has Affected Their Love Lives, And Honestly... Relatable

"I haven't been able to get out of the 'talking phase' with anyone."

The reality is, there's no part of life the pandemic hasn't affected. Whether it's your work life, your home life, your social life, or your love life, coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on just about everything — not to mention people's health.

When it comes to romance, in particular, people are all handling things differently and there's no "right way" of making it through, regardless of your relationship status (single, taken, married, divorced, you name it). So, some of Swoon's creators sought out to hear from various individuals on how exactly their love lives have been affected since quarantine began.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Dear Closeted Latina,

You were never alone.

Remember how the Latin world got rocked when Ricky Martin came out?

Keep Reading... Show less

It wasn't until I hit 23 years old that I started getting hangovers. It could've been from two glasses of wine or even a margarita at happy hour, the next day, consider me bed-bound until further notice.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because Air Travel Looks Different Now

If you have to travel, you can — you just have to take a few extra steps.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

As we are learning how to live our lives in the midst of a pandemic, one big question being travel. States that were initially labeled coronavirus (COVID-19) epicenters, like New York and New Jersey, are extra cautious in how freely residents can travel and then come home. Other states may not have the same travel restrictions as the epicenters, but one thing is for sure — no matter where you fly within the United States, that trip will look different than your usual summer vacation. Sure, it can still happen, you just need to take a few more steps to make sure your trip will go smoothly.

Keep Reading... Show less

Top 10 Santana Lopez Performances On 'Glee' That MADE The Show

In honor of Naya Rivera's passing, I compiled a list of her best performances as Santana Lopez as "Glee".


Hearing about the tragic passing of the beloved actress, singer, and model Naya Rivera was tragic to say the least. "Glee" was a huge part of my life, Santana being one of my favorite characters, so it was shocking to hear the news.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Caribbean is a place where people go for vacation, but if you set out from a cruise ship you miss out on all the beautiful culture. Their exotic beaches are nothing without their zinging food and hospitality. Locals in the Caribbean are warmhearted with a zest to live life to the fullest.

This is exactly where most of their words and phrases come from, having a good time. I definitely enjoyed myself living in the Caribbean, but it's not always about lounging. They get work done too and I've learned proper phrases for accomplishments.

Keep Reading... Show less

What's Coming To And Leaving Netflix In August For Your Summer Viewing Pleasure

Just in time for another your end of summer binge-watch list.

Flower Films, Warner Bros, New Line Cinema

August is here, which means we will be losing some of our Netflix favorites but gaining some new ones. Here is a list of TV shows and movies we will be losing and gaining on Netflix during August.

Keep Reading... Show less

According to Urban Dictionary, a "simp" is defined as "a man that puts himself in a subservient/submissive position under women in the hopes of winning them over, without the female bringing anything to the table." There are many other definitions for a "simp," but basically it's shaming men who are kind to women without getting anything in return.

Let's just stop attacking nice men. Work out your own issues, don't project your shortcomings onto another man. What happened to the brotherhood? Y'all can lie for each other, but can't raise each other up? You guys can encourage murder, gang rape, and violence against women — or at least stay silent about it — but can't let your brother know it ain't cool when they bring you down for being nice to women with no expectation?

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Living With Bipolar Disorder Is An Everyday Battle, But I'm Fighting It

I went from depression, to anxiety, to bipolar disorder.

I've thought about how to write this since my diagnosis. I've thought about what kind of feelings it might bring up from my mom, former friends, and even myself. I've rewritten it a thousand times in my head, but never could quite get the words onto my notepad, but tonight I'm going to sit down and write it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Self-Love Is The Best Love, That's Just How It Is

Do you ever feel like you can't please everyone? Self-love will do the trick.

I've been feeling a little down lately, with the understanding that friends don't last forever and that I can't always please my parents. Life has been rough for everyone lately and it's not easy to stay happy and optimistic during these times. But I promise you, you are on this earth for a reason. You are here because God formed you, to love, and to be loved.

When things are tough, realize that you have yourself always. No one can take that away from you. You will always be you. No matter who you are, what you believe, or where you've been in life, at the end of the day, you are you. You can love you, therefore giving you one reason to stay here on this Earth.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ranking 'The Umbrella Academy' Cast By Their Powers

I'm ranking the characters of Netflix's show "The Umbrella Academy" by how cool their powers are.

With the new season of "The Umbrella Academy" coming out tomorrow, I took the time to revisit the first season to refamiliarize myself with the characters.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments