Fitspriaton or fitspo is a combination of the words “fit” and “inspiration.” The online trend aims to inspire people to exercise and be healthy, which sounds good, right? Unfortunately, the intentions behind the movement to promote health are backfiring. Type #fitspo into Instagram and search, and you’ll find more than 72 million posts, the majority present only one body type as healthy. Many of the fitspiration posts and quotes along with them underscore the belief that health is related to your body size–that health is only on the surface level. This strongly implies the size of your body should be linked to your self-worth. In reality, health looks different on different people.
Daily exposure to the messages and images that promote body comparisons and fitness at all costs can trigger unhealthy fixations on diet, weight loss, fitness, and self-discipline in people vulnerable to body image issues and extreme exercise. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that women who regularly post fitspiration images, nearly 20% of the women were at risk for a clinical eating disorder. In the comparison group of women who posted travel images, that rate was just over 4%.
As an avid consumer of social media and lover of fitness, I have first-hand experience with the negative thought patterns and anxiety which comes as a result of habitual body monitoring. My goal is to address this relatively new issue, creating awareness for other women who exercise to recognize the issues with fitspiration. I believe fitness should be about health, not trying to achieve some unrealistic ideal.