Young woman buying in supermarket and feeling worried about increase in food prices.

Supermarket ‘Junk Food’ Shamer Sparks Backlash

Over the past week, a video by influencer Olympia Anley has gone viral after she took to TikTok to share her thoughts after observing a woman’s shopping cart. Unsurprisingly, her unbelievably ignorant comments received massive backlash from others.

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In the video (which is still up, despite her account being temporarily banned, with comments, stitches, and duets turned off), she sits swirling her lemon water and says multiple times that she doesn’t want to judge and that she didn’t know the woman’s situation, yet continues to discuss the contents of the cart and judge away. She describes seeing food such as white bread and Pot Noodles before saying that “she might have been having a party, I don’t know.” Now, I’m very partial to a Pot Noodle, but I have never in my British existence heard of someone having one at a party.

She also says that she saw “a whole load of medicine” including pills and sachets, but her eyes must’ve been deceiving her because you can only get two packs of ibuprofen, paracetamol, and other painkillers at a time in the U.K.

She seems to suggest having a nutritious diet with fruit and vegetables is easy and cheap, when in reality, that isn’t accessible to everyone. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, as she seems to have been, you would know that there is currently a cost-of-living crisis, which is hitting those on lower incomes the hardest (there were 13.4 million people in the U.K. living in poverty in 2020/2021). Having foods that keep for longer—processed foods—is often the only option for those with lower food shopping budgets.


@Olympia Anley have you ever had to choose between eating or heating? When was the last time u cried urself to sleep over money worries? Have u ever tried empathy?

♬ original sound – Reb

Rebecca McComb, 24, who made a video response and even got a reply from Anley, said, “To open a video by saying ‘I don’t want to offend anybody’ and then go on to say she’s not proud of judging this person for buying what she considers to be junk food all the while posting ‘lifestyle videos’ that are nothing more than her going on skiing holidays and dancing around a house which has rooms bigger than working and lowers class peoples living rooms screams ignorance.

“It’s very easy to argue that she has a point where she’s saying that a poor diet is going to make you feel terrible but she never directly addresses how poverty or a lower income can leave people trapped with a poor diet and not many [other] options.”

In Anley’s video, she literally says that “We live in a society that treats the symptom and not the cause,” and then says absolutely nothing about our current government. Between 2011 and 2019, child poverty increased by 600,000, and despite some cost-of-living payments, there have been many instances that show that the conservatives do not care about people who are struggling—whether it’s having a Cheshire Cat grin whilst opening a food bank (of which there are more than McDonald’s in the U.K.) or making a U-turn on not feeding hungry kids during school holidays only because a footballer campaigned for them to do so and made them look bad.

Rebecca continued, “My mum always made sure we had something to eat no matter what and sometimes that meant eating a lot of processed foods, a lot of what Anley would consider ‘junk foods.’ Lots of people don’t have a choice at all when it comes to healthy eating because the [increased] cost of fruit and veg and high-nutrient foods, more often than not, it is cheaper and more convenient to buy processed.

“She’s trying to advise on a lifestyle that she has been lucky enough to avoid. She’s always had a choice to be able to pick nutrient-dense foods and it’s so easy to tell people, ‘just make better choices’ when you yourself have never been forced to make that choice; when you’ve never had to choose between paying your rent or bills or eating. Even today, I’m doing a lot better financially than most people I know and I still struggle, because I know that I’m so much closer to being in poverty than I am to being rich.”

As it has been suggested, she has probably kept the video up for engagement and clicks and probably won’t take it down or apologize. She’s not alone in her attitudes, either. A study by Engage Britain last year found that the perception of those who did and didn’t deserve financial help varied.

The report stated, “The perceived deservingness of the claimant group is associated with public perceptions of the reasons why members of that group ended up in poverty in the first place. For example, the unemployed are often viewed as being in poverty because of poor choices or a lack of willingness to work hard, and on that basis are judged to be less deserving of help than those whose circumstances are not seen as being of their own making.”

Those who are judged as more deserving are generally people who have disabilities and pensioners, while anyone else who’s struggling is judged as though it’s their own fault, rather than the reality that it’s a systemic problem.

Cara Sullivan, 22, who also responded to Anley, spoke about her experiences at university. “I don’t want to claim that I was raised working class, that I grew up with food poverty—I feel like that’s a very different experience that a lot of people struggle with that I didn’t have and I’m not trying to speak for those people.

“I think a lot of it was compounded by the cost of living crisis. I remember having a lot of anxiety about how long we could keep the heating on and things like that. I remember coming out walking to work one morning and it was snowing outside and was actually warmer outside than it was in the house, and that’s not a unique experience at all. Food poverty has doubled in the last year alone so it’s definitely a huge issue.”

She continued, “In terms of what I was eating, it was mainly stuff that was gonna go in the food waste bin. I’ve always been someone who’s wanting to have a healthy diet and I’ve always been conscious about that, and I remember just the frustration of watching vegetables go off because I didn’t have time to use them in the week and [I was] relying on toasties and pastries for all of my sustenance. I just didn’t really have time to worry about it.”

“Putting food into your body and nourishing your body are completely different things, and to nourish your body and to have the means and the time to make informed healthy decisions as opposed to just grabbing whatever’s closest and cheapest is a privilege. To look down on those who rely on convenience without taking into account a myriad of socioeconomic factors that are purely hypothetical to you is just horrendously arrogant and tone-deaf.”

(featured image: Drazen Zigic/Getty Images)

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Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.