As far as I can tell, there are basically two ways to tell if you matter at all: One, you are a fashion designer’s pet, like Karl Lagerfeld’s cat, Choupette, or one of Valentino Garavani’s eleven pugs. Or, two, you are an influencer who has reached the required height of power to shill Fit Tea on Instagram.
Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the concept of Fit Tea? If so, you must not follow Kylie Jenner, this French fashion blogger, or any tertiary Pretty Little Liars cast members on Instagram, for all of these #influencers are known enthusiasts of (read: paid to promote) the product. Basically, Fit Tea is a “detox tea” that, according to its website, will help you lose weight by speeding up your metabolism and causing your fat to burn itself spontaneously.
If you’ve ever taken any type of life science class, you’ll know that this can’t be true, exactly. Your body fat will never evaporate of its own accord. But for its fans, it appears that what Fit Tea actually does is less important than what it stands for–there are a bunch of different brands of detox tea on the market (BooTea, LyfeTea, and TeaTox& Co are a few) but Fit Tea is the one that seems to reign supreme, based both on its celebrity support and the sheer amount of people who are talking about it. If you search the hashtag #fittea on Instagram, you’ll see hundreds of photos of people posing with it, accompanied by hashtags like #ad and #spon to signify that it’s a post they were paid to do.
Here is a good example of what your classic Fit Tea picture might look like:
Isn’t that gorgeous? To me, it is perfect, and not only because I have no idea what the caption says–I also love the chair she is sitting on, the field she is in, and the position she has assumed. How did she end up there? She does not seem comfortable at all, but she does have almost thirty thousand likes, so she must be doing something right.
In any case, I obviously wanted in on this scheme. To be a Fit Tea model seems, to me, to be the life. They look great in minimal makeup, spend all of their days languishing in fields, beaches, or the VIP sections of foreign film festivals, and always make sure to attribute all of this to their commitment to #relax and #detox with their #fittea every day–plus, word on the street is that one detox tea post can earn the right #influencer up to $15,000 per post. Though, according this followers/dollars-based calculation, I only stood to make about three dollars a post, it would be foolish not to at least try, right?
Before I start, though, I am just going to go ahead and refer to “Fit Tea” as what it actually is, which is: laxative tea. It makes you poop. It has a mix of green tea, oolong, and garcinia extract, that, while actually not as potent as some other detox teas (most of which contain senna, an herbal laxative that is meant to relieve constipation in elderly people), definitely, uh, gets things moving down there. I would not ever recommend using it as a weight loss supplement because, not only is the concept of “detox” kind of B.S., relying on laxatives to lose weight is symptomatic of disordered eating.
There is also certainly a Women’s And Gender Studies 101 essay to be written about what it means, exactly, that it has become popular for women to pose with what everyone knows is an herbal laxative without actually admitting that it is, in fact, a laxative–is it yet another example of women conforming to the male gaze, or is it actually a means of subverting the patriarchy by profiting off of their bowel movements?
But I am not here (today) to discuss feminist theory, just as I am not here to promote weight loss! I am here instead to promote something much more important–using social media to get attention. Because of this, my goal for this project was simple: I just wanted Fit Tea to notice me. Whether this came in the form of a lucrative sponsorship deal or a cease and desist was irrelevant–once they paid me attention, I felt I would be satisfied.
I started with Snapchat. While you cannot actually trace hashtags on Snapchat, I felt that this was important to flex my #influencer muscle and work on the sort of syntax and diction–which is friendly and peppy, but also slightly removed, because, you know, #ad–required to make an effective #fittea post. I put this on my story:
Follow me there, by the way! My name is saratopia1. Anyway, I did not get any response at all to this post but, for what it’s worth, Fit Tea does taste pretty good. It’s like green tea, but tangier, somehow, since it also has honey and electrolytes in it. So, green tea mixed with Gatorade? I don’t know. It tasted good to me, but I might not have tastebuds.
I then moved to Instagram:
This, I did get a response to–first, I lost three followers, which was to be expected, probably. Then, one friend asked if I was actually getting paid to promote Fit Tea:
I wanted to tell her that, yes, much like all of the former cast members of The Bachelor, I too was now singing for my supper, so to speak, by posing with laxative tea on the ‘gram, but I couldn’t lie. One day, I said instead. That is the goal.
Twitter was my next step. I was going to Boston that weekend, so, naturally, it felt only right to let my followers know how important it is to stay fit when you travel:
— Sara Hendricks (@shendrickslamar) May 14, 2016
Again–no response. I was beginning to lose hope so, when I returned from Boston, I ramped up my efforts.
My apartment building has a truly terrifying laundry room that, in addition to a set of Maytags that always leave a suspicious white residue on my clothing, also has an old LifeFitness treadmill. It is caked in dust and does not work. One time, I saw a rat crawl out from underneath. Still, I felt it might be the perfect place to take another picture–after all, what is a Fit Tea model without her #homegym? Nothing, that’s what. I got my roommate to take a picture of me on the treadmill, and posted this. It is my best work, IMO:
As an #influencer, I am VERY busy. My days are filled with taking pictures of smoothies, searching my name on Twitter, and trying to figure out which Snapchat filter makes me look the skinniest. This means that it's not always easy to stay #fit, but I try to get in a #workout in my #homegym every day…obviously couldn't do it without my fave pre-workout drink, @fittea!! Do you have a #homegym? What's your favorite kind of workout? #fittea #ad #spon
Unfortunately, despite all of my efforts, it does not appear that Fit Tea cares about me much one way or another. I have not yet been sent a contract of any kind, be it a sponsorship or a legal one that says “please stop doing this,” and I fear that I simply do not yet have the kind of clout required to get any kind of reaction, let alone a profitable one.
Also, I feel that I should reiterate that this is not an actual way to get healthy, per se. You will lose water weight, and you will spend a lot of time in the bathroom, but neither of these things will actualyl make you fit.
Still. I rise. It was fun, I guess? Obviously, I came here to win, not to make friends, but I did enjoy pretending to be a Fit Tea model, if only for a week. I also liked getting a rise out of my peers, and becoming acquainted with some lesser-known fitness-based accounts that were diverted to my own account based on the hashtags I used. All told, this was not the worst way to spend my week.
Oh, and if anyone from Fit Tea is reading this–let’s talk about business! I #love your #product.
#fittea #ad #spon
Would you ever try a Fit Tea experiment? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!