From Weight-Loss to Wellness: Has The Diet Really Died?

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Diet pills are by no means a new cultural phenomenon. Wherever you have the imposition of patriarchal beauty standards, you’ll find someone profiting off of the latest miracle supplement with the endlessly appealing pitch: “eat me and be skinny!” While the salesman remains a constant, the magic elixir has been given a makeover in recent years. Societal perceptions of beauty are beginning to loosen from their “ultra-slim” hold, and this means a revamp in the marketing department. This is the era of body positivity. There is no longer one quintessential figure that women should strive for, so shouldn’t this be reflected in the pills and potions we’re sold?

Cue Goli Nutrition. You might have heard of the various benefits that come with downing a glass of apple cider vinegar each morning. It’s become a cult classic in the natural health food community, and its enthusiasts have made claims to weight loss, lowered cholesterol and even cancer prevention. The catch? It tastes awful. Michael Bitensky picked up on this pesky dilemma, saw the potential to make some bank, and the rest is history. Bitensky founded Goli, a company striving for health and happiness (even the brand name is derived from the word “goal”– Sheesh). This is not your typical dieting capsule. Rather than citing weight loss and fat trimming benefits, Goli’s branding emphasizes values of wellness with natural ingredients and does so brilliantly. Gluten-free, gelatin-free, and body-shaming free, these are the diet pills of the future. 

Societal perceptions of beauty are beginning to loosen from their “ultra-slim” hold, and this means a revamp in the marketing department.

Gone are the days when skinny was the only sexy. In 2019, marketing a product to young people as purely designed for weight loss can land a brand or ambassador in hot water. Unsurprisingly, recent public backlash against the Kardashians embodies this cultural shift. Kim shocked fans by promoting diet-suppressing lollipops in May 2018; many were angry at the star’s public normalization of disordered eating patterns. Khloe faced her own media debacle for promoting diet tea drinks earlier this year. The public has started to reject products that send unhealthy messages about eating to consumers, especially those that target younger audiences through social platforms. 

But are Goli gummies really any different? The brand still heavily implies that weight loss is a key impact of their product, but cloaks this implication with buzzwords like “wellness” and “detox” to soften the marketing blow. Goli’s wellness may simply be a convenient euphemism for thinness; and so the wheel is reinvented once more. A gummy that explicitly suppresses your appetite would likely fall under profit-killing scrutiny in today’s online environment. Goli sidesteps this pothole; while the company’s website mentions benefits to the user’s weight loss and appetite, it also makes vague promises of body detoxification, healthy digestion, and improved energy. Diffusing the pitch from miracle skinny pill to natural health supplements is the core of Goli’s marketing ingenious. The brand’s “modesty” is compensated for by many of their customer’s rave reviews. Whether it’s communicated on the official website or throughout the YouTube community, one thing is undoubtedly clear: people are eating the gummies to lose weight.

Goli’s wellness may simply be a convenient euphemism for thinness.

This is not to deny the potential health benefits that Goli gummies may actually have. After all, people still drink apple cider vinegar despite its… acquired taste. However, it’s interesting to note the evolution of the wellness product, shaped by a cultural shift away from explicitly regulated body shaming. Previously-loved detox teas are losing their social traction as digital backlash against fatphobic culture becomes increasingly prevalent. Influencers know better than to be associated with a brand that bluntly targets weight loss. The market is still out there, though (expected to reach a whopping $15.5 billion by 2024) and it might give a warmer welcome to products like Goli. Meanwhile, the gummies are making a name for themselves. They were featured on Ellen, and have recently been spotted in trendy Montreal clothing store Editorial, just around the corner from campus. So as products like Goli continue to permeate the health scene, tread with caution. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve your health with delicious gummies, but no one likes the taste of snake oil. 

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