Brittany Dawn Davis settled an April 25 lawsuit brought against her by the state of Texas for deceptive business practices related to her former fitness influencer business, marking the end of a long-running debate over what fan creators owe their followers.
The 32-year-old, who now posts content related to foster parenting and Christianity on social media under the handle @realbrittanydawn, was due to go on trial on May 15 – an unusual public forum for influential people. Neither Davis nor her attorney responded to Yahoo Life’s requests for comment.
Information about the monetary value or terms of the settlement has not been made public. The attorney general’s office sought penalties and legal fees of between $250,000 and $1 million.
The lawsuit, filed by the state of Texas in February 2022, alleges that Davis sold thousands of purportedly customized online health and fitness plans priced from $92 to $300 in early 2014. Davis positioned herself as a health and fitness expert on social media, even calling herself an “eating disorder warrior,” leading her clients to believe she had “special training” on the subject — a tactic not uncommon for fitness influencers. According to documents filed by the state, at least 14 of Davis’ clients had eating disorders that Davis did not properly address in the “customized” health plans she sold them.
In 2018, Davis’ clients began sharing their concerns about her fitness plans in a now-private Facebook group called “Brittany Dawn Fitness Business Complaints.” In February 2019, Davis addressed the complaints in a now-deleted apology video, saying she was “sincerely sorry for any harm” she may have caused. This month she appeared on Good morning America to take “full responsibility” for her “mistake”.
Davis took a brief hiatus from social media, returning in November 2019 to announce her rebranding to Christian content — and marking the end of her era of accountability.
“Fitness and health are no longer my identity. My identity is in Christ,” she said in the video.
From 2023, however, Davies took a different approach. In her podcast, Cut and calledshe identified herself as a victim of the “cancellation culture” who was a victim of society’s desire “to see an influential person crumble”.
“The world was watching me as I was … being labeled every sinister, fake, scathing headline possible during the breakup,” she said on the March 22 episode. “Nobody wants to go through a lawsuit…but guess what? Happens. Life happens.”
What does settlement mean?
While the settlement could be seen as a disappointing end to the case, especially since she retracted her apology no matter the outcome, it would have signaled a new precedent for taking influential people seriously as business people.
As it stands now, when customers are unhappy with the products that influencers have sold them, they are often rejected because they bought into the fictional narrative that social media makes so easy to create. That Texas state lawsuit took the testimony of more than a dozen people who said they felt defrauded by Davis and treated their stories with the same seriousness as a physical business. But without a verdict, the case is unlikely to have a wide impact.
Dawn has long refused to speak directly to the media about allegations of fraudulent business practices, but she’s telling all about what happened to Brittany Dawn Fitness both on social media and on her new podcast.
What sets Davis apart
What sets Davis apart from other influencers — aside from the fact that a state attorney general stepped in to investigate her business — is that she appears to have successfully rebranded herself since the cancellation. As an influential Christian, she now appeals to an audience whose worldview promises radical forgiveness for past actions. At retreats she organizes with her Christian ministry, she preaches refrains like “you can’t undo what God has called.”
Although some Christians have criticized Davis for using the grace of her religious followers as a “guilt-avoidance weapon,” she still succeeds. Her social media following has grown exponentially over the past year, negating any loss she suffered due to ‘cancellation’. During that time, Dawn amassed 1.3 million followers on TikTok and nearly doubled the subscribers on her YouTube page, according to analytics platform Social Blade. But now a 40,000-member Reddit group called r/BrittanyDawnSnark is monitoring her behavior, offering criticism and accountability.
Months before her trial began, Davis ushered in yet another new era and began sharing content about foster parenting. Youth advocate and TikTok creator Kirsta Bowman, who frequently posts about adoption, told BuzzFeed News that she is “petrified for the well-being” of the two children who were in Davis’ care, given her history of “misbehavior and anxious behavior’. Although Davis kept the children’s faces hidden and withheld details about their cases, she did briefly mention one child’s medical problems. With such a large audience, some expressed concern that it could affect the chances of reuniting them with their birth family.
With a new flavor of publications, it’s possible that Davis’ new content and controversies will be forgotten—or at least unknown to her growing audience. As a foster care influencer, Davis positioned herself as a hero, offering her help in a system in need of manpower and reform. As an influential Christian, she appeals to an audience that quickly rejects its past in favor of forgiveness.
While she still posts gym selfies and directs people to buy the workout clothes she wears with her affiliate links, her days of making personalized exercise and meal plan PDFs appear to be behind her. prevented him from advertising his lifestyle to the public.
Is it really that bad for an influencer to learn from their past actions and evolve? This is what an empathic community is all about, holding someone accountable. But Davis isn’t just any guy. She is an influencer who wields power over vulnerable communities. With any chance of her being held accountable by the law for her alleged actions gone, she has the opportunity to craft her own new narrative about what happened to her fitness business and walk away unscathed.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
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