Lizzo's smoothie detox sparked fierce backlash in the body positive community. Experts explain why.

Lizzo, seen here at the 51st NAACP Image Awards in February, has faced backlash over trying a smoothie cleanse. (REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
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Lizzo drew the ire of her fans on Tuesday after sharing videos on social media of a 10-day detox she was doing.

On Sunday, the 33-year-old singer posted a video to her TikTok about her journey of doing the smoothie cleanse, created by J.J. Smith, who is a featured nutritionist on The Dr. Oz Show. Throughout the short video, which she also shared on her Instagram on Monday, Lizzo stood in front of the camera wearing workout clothes and showing her bodily progress, noting that the detox helped her improve her skin, sleep, hydration and mental health.

Unfortunately, many of her fans were not impressed. Some took to her Instagram comments to express their disappointment in the Grammy-winner, who has been seen as a role model in the body-positivity movement.

“Damn i really thought this was a safe space, but promoting detox and cleanse that is a part of the diet culture.. :( i feel your pain that comes from having body issues and so on but please try being responsible in what you choose to promote or share, the impact it can have on people struggling with ED,” one fan wrote.

“You gotta do what feels right for you, I respect that. But I have to say for those of us in recovery from ED who loved your body positivity, this is a real bummer. Always will be a fan of your music, but I can’t have this kind of diet industry hype on my feed,” another person said.

“Oh Lizzo :( come on girl, you’ve always promoted body positivity and a healthful mindset. Smoothie cleanses are shown to be dangerous and they don’t even work. Please don’t go down the diet promotions road,” someone added.

Lizzo posted a photo to Instagram defending herself to critics of her diet.

“I detoxed my body and I’m still fat. I love my body and I’m still fat. I’m beautiful and I’m still fat. These things are not mutually exclusive. To the people who look to me, please do not starve yourselves. I did not starve myself. I fed myself greens and water and fruit and protein and sunlight. You don’t have to do that to be beautiful or healthy. That was my way. You can do life your way. Remember, despite anything anyone says or does DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH YOUR BODY,” she captioned the picture.

J.J. Smith did not respond to a request for comment send by Yahoo Life via Instagram. But Vanessa Rissetto, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Culina Health, which offers health and nutrition coaching, tells Yahoo Life that detoxes may not be the best way to get results.

“Everyone wants things to be quick, easy and handed to them,” she says. “They don’t realize that these things take a little time, because you need to change your mindset, that’s half the battle. Lemonade-maple syrup cleanses are just a fad — it’ll get you a result, but the second you eat anything, all is lost. And I often ask patients if you have the discipline to drink only water for seven straight days, then why are you unable to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and vary your diet so you don’t feel restricted. Diet culture makes it so that if you’re not suffering, you don’t feel like you’re going to have success.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the human body was built to detox itself, and though detoxes provide a higher intake in vitamins, the low calorie intake can lead to low energy that could disrupt metabolic rate and blood glucose levels, plus cause gastrointestinal distress. Further, these diets have found to be insufficient in protein.

In addition to criticism surrounding the detox, the star was accused of promoting diet culture.

Joy Cox, a social justice advocate whose work has focused heavily on the intersectionality of race, body size, accessibility and health within the context of body acceptance and fat liberation, tells Yahoo Life that diet culture is fully focused on weight loss, and that, “from my prospective, diet culture has been extremely harmful to society as a whole.” That’s because, she adds its message is that “if you want a better life, if you want success, money...[then] all of that stuff is hinged on weight loss.”

Still, there were many fans who came to Lizzo’s defense. On Wednesday, Orange Is the New Black star Danielle Brooks took to Instagram, sharing a black-and-white photo of herself showing all her curves and opening up about her struggle to lose weight after having a baby.

“I’m doing all kinds of diets, cleanses, making all kinds healthy choices,” she wrote. “Not because I don’t love myself now, but because I DO love myself, my body and my mind. Bc I want to continue to feel strong and sexy without catching ‘the sugars’ or any other disease. It’s okay showing the in between of growth. You ain’t always gotta have it all the way together. Just speaking from the heart.”

Other fans argued that Lizzo is just the latest Black woman facing heightened scrutiny for being human. Some drew comparisons to Adele and Rebel Wilson, who, though they faced some criticism, were widely commended and celebrated after sharing their weight-loss journey.

Cox explains that what separates Black and white women in the fat community is intersectionality and lived experience.

“So, I think in a general sense, Black women always tend to have more scrutiny than others,” she says. “I would also say, on some level, that both Rebel Wilson and Adele lost large amounts of weight, so as far as general critiques about situations, I think the general public typically, historically, [is] more welcoming to white faces.”

And when it comes to the argument about Lizzo being able to do whatever she wants with her body, Cox says it is not that simple.

“This is not a new wave, but it tends to be a reoccurring wave when it comes to body autonomy, particularly when fat people decide they want to lose weight...the problem with that, though, is that you cannot be a part of a community or a team and still feel you have body autonomy, that’s not the way life works,” she explains. “The moment you sign on to be part of a team, you willingly give up some of your autonomy. I think that if Lizzo is going to position herself as being a leader in the community of body positivity, of fat acceptance… then she also has to understand that on some level, she’s giving up a sense of autonomy, because she made herself a part of a community.”

Whether you agree or disagree with Lizzo and detoxes, one thing is for sure, diet culture has an undeniable hold on society. Rissetto notes that it is fine to want to lose weight without over-restricting, but believes everyone should stop comparing themselves to others.

“You’re not JLo, you’re never going to be her. She has resources, chefs, trainers, a nanny, so things can be a little easier for you to execute,” she says. “So when celebrities follow these fad diets you can’t expect to also to be able to do the same as them. Their chef can make plastic wrap taste like cookies, where in your home, you are the chef.”

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