YOUNG VOICES

Celebrity Endorsement - A Selfie Too Far?

13/05/2015 11:31 BST | Updated 13/05/2015 11:59 BST

It's hard to scroll through the likes of Twitter and Instagram without seeing a celebrity endorsing some form of health product.

Whether it's a quick fix to blast an unwanted belly or a magical cure to make your teeth sparkle, young people are being increasingly exposed to product endorsement from their celebrity idols.

Celebrity endorsement isn't a new thing (it dates back to the 1760s when Josiah Wedgewood used royal endorsements to create an aura around his pottery and chinaware business), nor is it necessarily a bad thing. When done sensibly endorsements are beneficial for the company, the celebrity and the young consumer.

From a purely business standpoint, for businesses and celebrities (whose primary motivation it is to make money), celebrity endorsement is a no-brainer. As a society we buy into celebrity culture and so, endorsement should come be expected.

Sarah Bailey from UKMediaX.com, who provide online treatments from UK Pharmacies told HuffPost UK: "Celebrities are always going to endorse products, its part and parcel of the media-obsessed culture we are all a witness to in todays society. It's another way for those in the spotlight to make money fast and, more importantly, to get their name and face in front of the general public."

Social media has created a host of exciting opportunities in the digital age. However, it has also accelerated and shone a light on the potentially dangerous repercussions of celebrity product endorsement. Marketing forces are using celebrities with a huge social media presence to get behind their product.

Kim Kardashian West, who famously broke the internet in 2014 with a picture of her naked, balancing a champagne glass on her derriere, has a Twitter following of 31m and an Instagram following of 32m.

She has posted a series of selfies with her in a waist trainer (effectively a corset used to give the appearance of a smaller waist), a product she is said to be 'obsessed' with.

Ruben Soto, president of Hourglass Angel, a company that offers the waist trainer told USA Today sales of his top three waist trainers are up to 250% in the last year. His best selling waist trainer The "Amia", priced at $54 promises "Wear it for an instant 1-4 inch reduction in your waistline."

However, physiotherapist Paul Verburgt told the Irish Independent: "Bounding your mid-section is not going to achieve anything in terms of weight-loss. Wearing one to the gym will, at most, make you sweat a bit more. But it will also make your muscles very lazy. You're artificially binding your stomach rather than working to create a strong core through proper strength exercises."

And here lies the problem. Celebrities endorsing such products have a social and moral responsibility to be transparent with their fans. Not simply acting for personal, monetary gain, oblivious to their influence and consequences of their actions on potentially millions of other lives.

Angela Ross, a health, happiness and wellbeing coach told HuffPost UK: "Celebrities promoting any type of weight loss or body shaping product have a duty of care to their followers, they should have integrity and not just be looking at a cash cow."

"Celebrities who endorse diets or weight loss aids are giving out the wrong message to young women. They're exploiting young people with the message you need to look a certain way to be successful in life."

Arguably, young women and men are more body conscious and therefore, more vulnerable than ever before and when they see their idols with 'to die for looks', they will go to extreme lengths to emulate their role model.

Although not product endorsement, the above video highlights the dangerous way followers are recreating celebrity looks.

The celebrity selfie is portraying a false reality, giving young, impressionable people unrealistic expectations to aim for.

Ive run out of my @mrblancteeth must get more from mrblancteeth.com !

A photo posted by Andy Jordan (@andyjordanpics) on

Above, TV personalities Luisa Zissman and Made In Chelsea's Andy Jordan posing with teeth whitening products on their Instagram.

Bailey adds: "Half the time celebrities don't even do the diets or use the products they are advertising themselves and instead opt for the easier, and much more expensive, route of cosmetic surgery to look the way that they do."

"The media places a strong emphasis on body image and what it means to be perfect in todays society and celebrities that endorse fad diets and short-term health fixes are not helping to epidemics as anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphia."