Social media can be a toxic and dangerous place to be, particularly when it comes to body image and mental health.
In recent years, impossibly hourglass figures such as Kim Kardashian‘s, Kylie Jenner‘s and Cardi B‘s have become the norm online, and in some cases, women are sadly going to extreme lengths to achieve such ‘slim thick’ bodies – namely, a very slim waist with curvaceous hips.
A new documentary for BBC Three, entitled Dangerous Curves: Get Thicc, Get Sick? explores the rise of women taking an unlicensed yet widely available appetite stimulant called Apetamin. The documentary, which is out today, is presented by 19-year-old model and influencer Altou Mvuama who also took Apetamin in a bid to get a slim thick body, and suffered side effects including drowsiness and nausea.
Manufactured by the Indian pharmaceutical company TIL Healthcare, Apetamin has not been approved for safe consumption by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and also contains a sedative antihistamine – cyproheptadine hydrochloride – which is used to treat allergies and is available in the UK via prescription only.
In the documentary, Altou says: “I look up to Kylie Jenner because she’s a big influencer and so inspirational and I really like her body. I feel like you have to look a certain way if you want to make it big.”
The official description for Dangerous Curves: Get Thicc, Get Sick? reads: “For Altou, a 19-year-old model, having a ‘slim thick’ body seems the key to more likes and more work. She’s one of thousands of women worldwide who have taken Apetamin, an appetite-stimulant promoted by social media influencers as a quick fix for the extreme hourglass figure popularised by celebrities like Kim Kardashian.
“It’s widely available online. But what many don’t realise is that Apetamin is an unlicensed medicine and the misuse of this ‘miracle’ syrup is causing serious harm.
“When Altou took it, she was so drowsy she fell asleep at her school desk. When her mum took it, she went into a coma. Others have had car crashes, fallen down flights of stairs, and suffered liver failure. Altou decides to investigate, discovering just how far people will go to get the Instagram look – and asking whether it’s really worth the risk.”
After going undercover in the documentary, Altou realises how easy it is to buy Apetamin. “It’s really sad that there are girls out there endangering themselves just to look a certain way,” she says.
“When you see all these public figures – like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, and all these other celebrities who have beautiful bodies – we all forget that it’s not their actual bodies. They’ve paid for it. You won’t achieve that ‘perfect look’; it’s unrealistic unless you get surgery. You’re endangering yourself.”
Dangerous Curves: Get Thicc, Get Sick? is available to watch on BBC iPlayer BBC from 21st April.