The Vegan Influencer Who Ate Fish Still Seems Terrified And I'm Not Surprised

"My biggest mistake was putting a label on myself..."

Social media can create a vicious cycle. There’s a lot of pressure on users to keep up with the quote–unquote glamorous lives of their favourite influencers, and there’s a lot of pressure on influencers to live up to their followers’ expectations. The (not so) perfect example of this is ‘vegan’ influencer and YouTuber Yovana Mendoza, who was unofficially cancelled last year when she was caught on camera eating fish. 

Mendoza was savaged by followers, who populated the hashtags #fakevana nd #fishvana,  claiming the influencer had scammed them with her “raw, vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free” image, e-books and detox program.

Fast-forward to 2019 and Mendoza has completely overhauled her public image, had her breast implants removed and is on a new “journey” all about “gaining confidence, self-love and being patient with ourselves along the road.”

However, in a recent interview with The Cut, it sounds like Mendoza is still reeling from the backlash she faced over 12 months ago.

“The extent of the backlash really shocked me,” she told The Cut’s Charlotte Cowles. “I deleted all social-media apps from my phone and stayed away from YouTube. People were making so many videos about me, just to get views because they knew it was a trending topic.”

Perhaps, one of the saddest things about Mendoza’s fall from social media grace is that the reason she stopped being vegan was because she had a “small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth” but was reluctant to listen to her doctor’s advice in fear of disappointing her loyal followers.

 “It took me months to actually follow my doctor’s advice and eat an egg,” she said. “Honestly, I was just really scared.”

Mendoza told The Cut, “I realised I based so much of my identity on being vegan and how it made me feel different and special. Not having that label anymore was like, ‘Wait, I’m a normal person?’ But after a little bit of time, I started seeing the bigger picture, and that was freeing.”

She said that looking back, “my biggest mistake was putting a label on myself…And now I try to stay away from anything that automatically separates me from other people.”

While there’s no doubt that Mendoza kept her followers in the dark when it came to her secret fish-eating habits, this whole saga shines a light on the cruelty and hatred that social media breeds. 

If anything, it’s a lesson learned for Mendoza: not to peddle advice or flog a lifestyle that you can’t vouch for yourself. It’s also a learning curve for followers – don’t believe everything you see in your newsfeed.

Doctor's Advice: Hone Your BS Detector And Leave Your Lady Parts Alone

"Think of it as a really effective self-cleaning oven."

Ahh, vaginas. They’re a source of pleasure, pain and half of the world has them yet they remain an often taboo and private part of our bodies not to be discussed. However, the conversation around vaginas – and vaginal infections, in particular – needs to become the status quo, particularly when there is so much misguided and, at times, harmful information floating around the Internet. 

Bacterial Vaginosis is a vaginal infection more common than thrush and far more common than STIs, but according to women’s health expert Dr. Ginni Mansberg, women are uncomfortable talking about it because of its most common symptom: a fishy odour. 

“A lot of women either think that smell is normal, or they’re so humiliated and embarrassed by it that they don’t really talk about it, not even to each other,” she said. “I don’t know too many besties who will go ‘does your vajayjay just stink?’”

“Apart from the fact that it’s going to smell and that will really take the edge of your sex life,” Dr. Ginni said Bacterial Vaginosis has been associated with an increased risk of premature labour, pre-term birth, and contracting an STI.

When it comes to the fishy smell, Dr. Ginni says “a lot of girls don’t realise and they’re walking around with a problem in their vagina. If your vagina always smells like fish, and the more you wash, the stinkier it gets – that’s a red flag to me.”

Dr. Ginni says a healthy vagina contains lots of lactobacillus, a ‘friendly’ bacteria that fights off ‘unfriendly’ organisms. She likens this “protective acid mantle” to a helmet that keeps bugs at bay. “Your vagina is very happy being extremely acidic – we’re talking as acidic as a citrus fruit,” she said. 

While a quick visit to the doctor is recommended, an increasing amount of women are consulting wellness websites, like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, that flog ‘alternative’ treatment methods like yoni eggs or vaginal steaming – a practice Dr. Ginni labels as complete BS.

“I don’t know what vaginal steaming is meant to be doing,” she said. “All I can tell you is, what we know from medical journals is that it’s linked to an increased risk of second-degree burns in the vagina, which is not an easy place to treat.”

“Your vagina left to it’s own devices without added chemicals or added shit put in there will do a really good job of cleaning itself,” she said. “Think of it as a really effective self-cleaning oven – the natural bacteria in there does an awesome job of keeping your vagina sparkly clean.

“Not sparkly clean like a kitchen bench top – that’s very unhealthy. Sparkling clean the way a vagina should be.” 

According to Dr. Ginni, another common cause of Bacterial Vaginosis is douching, which involves thoroughly rinsing and washing your vagina. “Because you can buy douching equipment from chemists, people think it must be okay because why else would a chemist be selling it?” 

Unfortunately, douching your vagina is very harmful and as well as an increased risk of vaginal infection, Dr. Ginni says it can lead to more serious infections and long-term side effects, “all the way up into the uterus and tubes.”

“There are women who really struggle with the concept that what makes a toilet clean is not the same as what makes a vagina clean,” she says. “They are trying to look for zero vaginal discharge,” when in actual fact, discharge is incredibly important. “It’s awesome stuff, it’s your bodies self-cleaning fluid,” Dr. Ginni says.

So, why do we love to listen to celebs over healthcare professionals? Dr. Ginni says we as a society aren’t just taking advice about our vaginas, “It’s what you feed your baby, it’s whether or not your vaccinate, it’s what you do to lower your cholesterol.”

Dr. Ginni suggests it’s because of the changing advice of doctors. “I always hear, ‘one minute eggs are bad for you, the next they’re good for you. One minute avocados are bad for you, the next they’re good for you. You doctors just can’t make up your minds.’”

“Good science is continuing to attempt to bring down sacred cows by testing, re-testing and testing again,” she says. “Good quality trials that come out and then challenge strongly held totems of beliefs are really good.”

Being flexible in your thinking, or exercising what Dr. Ginni refers to as “cognitive agility,” is crucial in the world we live in today. She says that by taking rigidly held beliefs and sticking to them like a koala, “you’re not a scientist, that’s a religion – I don’t have any firmly held beliefs on anything.”

Then there’s Dr. Google and our obsession with Googling our symptoms. “I don’t think we should say Dr. Google is a bad thing,” Dr. Ginni says. “But it’s a new tool and we need to hone our bullshit detectors.”

Conversations like this might feel awkward and uncomfortable but Dr. Ginni says “if you don’t get any help, the consequences can be as mild as being a bit smelly and embarrassed to as horrific as late pregnancy loss and a higher risk of STIs.” 

“If just one girl who reads this feels empowered to get that symptom treated, then that’s a really powerful thing,” she says. So there you have it, treat your vagina like the beautiful self-cleaning oven that it is, and keep your bullshit detector on high alert at all times. We owe it to ourselves.

Kim K Reckons It's Fine To Flog Dodgy Diets On Insta If It Helps Free Prisoners

Even if the products are "a little off-brand."

Kim Kardashian recently went from reality TV star to IRL Elle Woods, and this year, she helped to free 17 prisoners from jail in the space of just three months. But when it comes to funding her legal work – Kardashian is happy to use her lucrative Instagram profile as a money-making machine, no matter what she has to flog.

In a recent interview  with The New York Times, Kardashian said, “If I have a paid post that comes in and I think, ‘OK, well this can fund x amount of people that are behind bars, that can help free them with simple legal fees that they just can’t afford, then that would be worth it to me, even if the post might be a little off-brand for me.”

“I really weigh out different things now than I used to,” she said. 

While it’s great to hear that Kardashian is using the profits from her paid Instagram posts to benefit those who have been incarcerated, it sounds like she’s happy to keep promoting potentially harmful products as long as it pays for her legal work.

Credit: Instagram

Earlier this year, Instagram announced a new policy that would restrict users under the age of 18 from seeing content that promotes weight loss products or cosmetic procedures. It’s a policy that was backed by actress and activist Jameela Jamil and her organisation I Weigh.

Jamil has been campaigning for restrictions and removal of harmful content on Instagram for several years now. Over the course of the last few years, she has continuously called out Kim Kardashian, amongst other celebrities, for exploiting vulnerable users by promoting get-thin-quick weight loss products and procedures.

In the wake of the backlash earlier this year, Kardashian told The New York Times “you’re gonna get backlash for almost everything so long as you like it or believe in it or it’s worth it financially, whatever your decision may be, as long as you’re OK with that.”

Credit: Instagram

There’s no denying that Kardashian is doing her best to focus on prison reform and use her power and platform to encourage positive change for those who have been incarcerated. However, funding those activities with the money earned from backing “off-brand” and controversial products on Instagram just because it’s “worth it financially” feels like it’s turning a blind eye an equally-as-relevant issue in your own backyard.

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