Lush accused of fat-shaming: the risk of social media sharing for modern brands


Ethical beauty and personal care brand Lush has been accused of fat-shaming after featuring statistics from new health documentary “What the Health” on its Instagram page.

Taking factoids from the film such as “two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese” and “70% of deaths and morbidity are largely lifestyle related and preventable”, the British brand came under fire from followers and social media users for allegedly reneging on its body positive, inclusive ethos and being accused of body shaming.

Social media users’ views remain polarized with some supporting Lush in just stating the facts, dismissing the idea that the brand was indeed actively shaming obese and overweight body types.

However, the extent of the criticism was so severe that Lush’s Ethics Director posted an official sorry message on Instagram to apologize for sharing posts perceived as a negative view on body image.

The pace by which posts go viral these days is both a blessing (when received favourably) and a curse (when hit with criticism) for modern brands and there is no-where to hide.

Consumers want brands to react as quickly as they do to the content they find online – and brands who do not respond, particularly to apologize for perceived transgressions, are likely to be (and often instantaneously) met with the wrath of the online community.

This in turn has made posting on social media a risky business – brands need to be 100% certain that their messages are verified from every angle to ensure that they are not met with fierce online backlash across numerous platforms.

Social media has served to empower the public, consumers, and hold brands and companies more accountable to a global audience. However, given the scale of the audience each post reaches and the inevitable differences in consumer reactions and opinions will the future of commercial social media accounts result in a diluted and inauthentic version of brand identities in an effort to please everyone?