This is Please Like Me, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about how influencers are battling for your attention. You can sign up here.
There are aspirational lifestyle Instagrammers — and then there are asspirational lifestyle Instagrammers.
This week, a woman’s Instagram post promoting the health benefits of #ButtholeSunning (her hashtag, not mine!) became virally infamous almost overnight. And the woman be-heinie the hole spectacle, 28-year-old massage therapist Meagan Whitson, became the...butt of internet jokes (I’ll stop with these bad butt puns now, promise).
So, I decided to chat with Meagan, who’s @metaphysicalmeagan on Instagram, over DMs to find out more about her lifestyle. Here’s what you need to know. Meagan has been sharing photos of herself “perineum sunning” over the past month with her around 16,000 Instagram followers. In these posts, Meagan claimed just a few minutes of tanning one’s perineum — aka the area between one’s anus and the vulva or scrotum — is “the equivalent of a full day of sunlight with your clothes on.”
According to Meagan, there are a number of health benefits of doing this, like better sleep, more energy, and a better sex drive. She also claimed it helps to attract something called your “soul tribe,” or “people who are on the same frequency and wavelength.” (I didn’t ask a doctor about any of this.)
In a more recent post, Meagan claimed the practice is derived from ancient Taoism, which states the perineum is “a gateway where energy enters & exits the body.” (Again, her claims, not mine.)
The whole thing confused, stunned, and worried people. Some even asked if it was a troll (it’s not). I reached out to Meagan to ask her a few questions about herself, and what those of us who don't tan our buttholes don't understand about this practice. She was sweet, and even though she didn’t want to address any of the comments or jokes directly, she said she was “a little surprised it went viral.”
Meagan also told me she is an “energy healer.” It is clear to me that she really practices and believes the power of perineum sunning and is sincere when she tells people try it for themselves.
The one big hurdle for most people, however, is where one even goes to practice such an art. I can’t confirm but I’m confident doing this in public could get you reported to the police in most states.
Meagan told me she practices in Joshua Tree National Park. It is close to where she lives and she “won’t be disturbed by others” there. (And, equally important, she won’t disturb others.)
Meagan’s big viral moment may have led to more skeptics and ironic fans than sincere followers. However, she has proven the power of true influence — something actual influencers with millions of followers go to bed every night dreaming about. She is being talked about widely for her content.
It may not be the kind of attention she wanted, butt I bet among the thousands of punchlines, at least one person has been influenced to try this for themselves this long holiday weekend.
Love and light, and let love and light go where it did not previously shine, if you know what I mean.
SugarBearHair is the only unstoppable contender heading into 2020.
Somehow, we’re nearing the end of 2019 and SugarBearHair is still being endorsed by huge Instagram accounts. For example, on Tuesday, actor Dove Cameron posed with the classic baby blue bottle of sugary gummies in a photo for her 32 million followers.
The company has paid numerous other big influencers over the past month to post the ad as well. In 2019!
How?? How is SugarBearHair still in our public consciousness?
How is the company staying afloat after numerous studies dispelled the claims it’s made about hair growth and health? After it’s been reported that the nutritional values on the bottles are inaccurate? Is it really seeing a big enough return on investment to continue to pay top influencers top dollar to shill? For reference, the Kardashians, who’ve been infamously aligned with SugarBearHair, reportedly make upward of $500,000 per post.
I actually have simple answers to my own questions. The books must balance out, and it must see Instagram as an effective marketing channel. Influencers don’t seem to be very discerning about iffy regulation standards of shoddy health claims, and followers of influencers don’t seem to be either.
I hear the gummies are actually quite delicious. (Editor’s note: NGL, they taste amazing.) So I guess that is enough to keep them on our feeds.
Until next time — may you get your daily dose of vitamin D and biotin in any form and through any channel you wish,
P.S. If you like this newsletter, help keep our reporting free for all. Support BuzzFeed News by becoming a member here. (Monthly memberships are available worldwide.)