This paper discusses an Instagram, a photo sharing social network, based community called Fitspiration, also known as Fitspo. The paper examines how this Fitspiration community may negatively impact women’s self-esteem and cause body dissatisfaction by promoting the thin ideals that have continued to be portrayed past traditional forms of media despite its intention to be inspiring, inclusive and to promote a healthy lifestyle with well-being in mind. It also touches on eating disorders that can potentially develop through self-comparisons, that both viewers and Influencers can make, from Fitspo posts.
Key Terms: Instagram, Community, Fitspiration, Fitspo, Self-Esteem, Body Dissatisfaction, Social Media, Women.
Do you follow female Influencers on the social media network, Instagram? Have you ever compared yourself to or admired the positive, inclusive, fit, strong and thin women on this platform? Instagram is the second largest social media platform with one billion active users monthly (Gotter, 2020), 4 million of those being Australia (Murton, 2015, as cited in Tiggemann, et al., 2015, p. 62). With the apparent abundance of active users, it makes sense that there is a plethora of communities on Instagram. A current and trendy community is the ‘Fitspo’ community (Prichard, et al., 2020, p. 1). ‘Fitspiration’, also known as ‘Fitspo’ is just as toxic, if not more so, than ‘thinspiration’ (Tiggemann, et al., 2016, p. 1004). Fitspo is a growing and trendy community on Instagram. This community promotes healthy life styles and intend to inspire their viewers. Despite these positive intentions, the promotion and objectification of these generally unattainable beauty and fitness standards (Prichard, et al., 2020, p. 1) that their posts portray can cause negative effects to both the viewer and the ‘Fitpso’ poster in terms of self-esteem and body satisfaction. The hashtag Fitspo had 69.3 million images in March 2020 and the Fitspiration hashtag had 18.74 million in March 2020 as well (Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 2). Because of these features, it creates an almost immediate connection to multiple people which allows from prompt self-comparisons to be made in relation to often edited and idealised images (Tiggemann & Zaccardo, 2015, as cited in Serlin, 2020, p. 2). The Fitspiration community on Instagram negatively affect its female audience causing self-esteem issues and body dissatisfaction despite its posts’ intentions of being inspiring.
Fitspiration resulted as a remedy for the trend of thinspiration which endorses negative eating habits and idealisation of thinness (Ghaznavi & Taylor, 2015 as cited in Slater, et al., 2017, p. 88). Instagram gives its users the affordance to ‘share’, ‘follow’, ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on other users’ photos, videos and ‘stories’. Content posted on Instagram can be grouped by the hashtags they use, enabling specific content to be searched (Tiggemann, et al., 2015, p. 62). The “Fitspiration” community promotes healthy lifestyles and there is more than 65 million posts using the #fitspo and #fitspiration hashtags on Instagram (Prichard, et al., 2020, p. 1). Inspiring quotes like “strong beats skinny every time” are used on Fitspo posts and these posts commonly promote unrealistic fitness and body standards (Holland, et al., 2017, p. 76). It has been proven that upon viewing or being shown the thin ideals that are represented on television or magazines create body dissatisfaction for women (Grabe, et al. 2008; Levine & Murnen, 2009; Want, 2009, as cited in Slater, et al. 2017, p. 87) and similar effects have recently been discovered for women using social media (Fardouly, et al, 2015a; Fardouly & Vartanian, et al, 2015; Tiggemann & Slater, 2013, as cited in Slater, et al., 2017, p. 87). 69% of Australian adults use social media and 46% use it daily (Sensus, 2014, as cited in Tiggemann, et al., 2015, p. 61). When analysed, Fitspiration leads to negativity, just as thinspiration does. They both idealise these impeccably balanced, tall, toned women and send messages that denounces fat, accentuating the need to diet and eat restrictively (Boepple, et al., 2016, Boepple & Thompson, 2016, Tiggemann & Zaccardo, 2016, as cited in Slater, et al., 2017, p. 88). These ideals that are pushed are impossible for most women to achieved (Krane, et al., 2001, Krane, et al., 2001, Slater, et al., 2017, p. 88). When Instagram users see Fitspiration posts and partake in activities included in the lifestyle standard they are viewing, such as a walk or workout even if it is short, they may experience body dissatisfaction and negative feelings (Prichard, et al., 2020, p. 1). About twenty-five percent of those who engaged in exercise influenced by Fitspo Influencers or their posts felt incapable when making self-comparisons to the Influencers fitness level or looks (Raggatt, et al., 2018, as cited in Prichard, et al., 2020, p. 2). This shows the lack of profit that emerges from Fitspo motivated exercise and that there can also be damaging effects from it (Prichard, et al., 2020, p. 1). Despite Fitspo’s motivational and encouraging aims, it can do quite the contrary and may be another way that contributes to women’s body image and self-esteem issues.
It is important to understand how this content can negatively affect its viewers by understanding how Fitspo Influencers portray themselves to their female audience. Influencers edit and carefully select which photos they want their audience to see to represent themselves in an ‘ideal’ way, this is called self-presentation (Goffman, 1959; Toma & Hancock, 2010, as cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 2). Toma & Hancock tell that this is to reduce the appearance of their flaws (as cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 2). With the carefully curated posts, Fitspo Influencers show their female audience their healthy routines which include their diet, training, strength and their flawless figure as a result of this rendered lifestyle. In the long-term, this heavily promoted flawless figure can become an ideal for many and push aside the importance of health to advise that the new importance is that of one’s bodily appearance (Pilgrim & Bohnet-Ioschko, 2019 as cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 2). Users comments, surrounding appearance and “feeling good” (Santarossa, et al., 2019, as cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 9), tell that the audience viewing these posts do feel inspired to live healthily. The audience also shared their inspiring emotions in the post’s comments (Raggatt, el al., 2018; Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 9). However, users viewing athletic ideals, rather than thinness, had higher levels of inspiration, despite no increase on physical activity (Robinson, et al., 2017, as cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 9). Instagram can be seen as self-objectifying because of its nature where Influencers and users post photos just of themselves, a majority of the time, for others to view (Tiggemann & Zaccardo, 2015, p. 62-63). As discussed, Fitspiration has good intentions, but it objectifies individuals’ bodies (Tiggemann & Zaccardo, 2018, cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 1), pushing that people’s appearance is used for and that its value is for the pleasure of onlookers (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997 cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 1). Almost one-third for Fitspiration posts are objectified (Deighton-Smith & Bell, 2018, as cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 9) and these objectifying posts suggests that exercising for appearance is much more important than exercising for well-being and health (Deighton-Smith & Bell, 2018, as cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 1). Female viewers can also feel higher levels of appearance related anxiety and feel shameful about their bodies upon viewing objectification words (Roberts & Gettman, 2004, as cited in Murashka, et al., 2020, p. 9).
One well-known fitness Influencer is Kayla Itsines. She has gained over 11 million followers on Instagram. With the use of hashtags, like #kaylasarmy, she creates a space for her large following to support one another as well as share their before and after photos and progress photos. Itsines community has challenges promoting your self-perception and self-love is more important than your physical appearance. The idea of this sounds positive, inclusive and great for women’s wellbeing, it is evident upon viewing the community hashtags that a majority of these posts are women who are Caucasian, fit, youthful women. In contrast to this majority, it is apparent that there is a minority of women who wear a clothing size 14 plus. Furthering this minority there is a minority of disabled, older and culturally diverse women. Possibly the women included in this minority have trouble posting their Fitspo photos online because of the worries they may face for not matching the mold that society has created, even within this welcoming and inclusive community (Toffoletti, et al., 2020, p. 2-15). Holland’s et al., (2017, p. 77-78) study discovered that Fitpso posters, when compared to travel posters, were more likely to obsessively exercise and have eating disorders such as bulimia because of their hard to reach goals of obtaining slenderness and masculinity. Further, this proposes that rather than just posting their healthy lifestyles, that Fitspo posters are striving to obtain or maintain these ideals. Not only is Fitspo negatively affecting viewers, but it also affects some of these Fitspiration Influencers too.
Among social media platforms, Instagram has the most content shared in regards to the ‘Fitspo’ hashtag (Carrotte, et al., 2017, p. 3, as cited in Serlin, 2020, p. 3). As mentioned above, Fitspo focuses on thin ideals and one of the main causes of eating disorders, like bulimia and anorexia, is body dissatisfaction. (Fiske et al., 2014; Fallon, et al., 2014; Uhlmann et al, 2018; Karrazsia, et al., 2017, as cited in Serlin, 2020, p. 1). There are many issues that help cause body dissatisfaction, but the ideal of thinness has constantly been known to have an influence on it. Body dissatisfaction caused by thin ideals are one of the clearest anticipators for eating disorders (Karrazsia, et al., 2017, as cited in Serlin, 2020, p. 1), perhaps because of this, a majority of research focusing on the association concerning body dissatisfaction and body image has concentrated on the thin ideals. Even though there has been a change in the ways in which beauty ideals and standards are promoted, the thin ideal has still been the focus (Serlin, 2020, p. 1). A movement on Instagram, the #bodypositivity movement, features more than 11 million posts (Instagram, 2019, as cited in Serlin, 2020, p. 9) and shares positive body related content that generally opposes what is deemed to be culturally acceptable and aims to escape from appearance focused content that is heavily viewed within Fitspiration content (Cohen, et al., 2019b, as cited in Serlin, 2020, p. 9). The movement features an abundance of different bodies both in appearance and size and posts within the movement contained body acceptance and appreciation (Cohen, et al., 2019b, as cited in Serlin, 2020, p. 10). There is body appreciation and satisfaction, as well as heightened moods when young women are exposed to body positivity content. The opposite goes for exposure to Fitspiration content as it heavily features thin ideals. (Cohen et al. 2019b; Uhlmann et al., 2018; Robinson et al., 2017; Boapple & Thompson, 2016; Tiggemann & Zaccardo, 2015; Grabe, et al., 2008, as cited in Serlin, 2020, p. 105-106).
The Fitspiration community on Instagram negatively affect its female audience causing self-esteem issues and body dissatisfaction despite its posts’ intentions of being inspiring. Because of Instagram’s affordance of hashtags, it is easy for viewers to see communities online. Influencers as part of the Fitspo community can be seen editing their photos and promoting their thin body ideals that are generally unobtainable or not maintainable. These posts are continuously pushed to the attention of young women, even outside of Fitspiration content in traditional sources of media. Ideals have not strayed far from their roots portrayed in traditional media. It is questionable, with the rise of social media and everyday people sharing their lives, why thinness is still an ideal? Why do we need ideals to start with? The movement #bodypositivity could be a turning point in creating a supportive and inclusive online community for women, free from one, central ideal and home to all bodies. Perhaps, in an aim to help women’s body satisfaction and self-esteem, the #bodypositivity should be focused on and promoted rather than that of #fitspo, #fitspiration and #thinspiration. Fitspiration is creating self-esteem issues, body dissatisfaction as well as eating disorders in women. Why cannot it just be ideal for women to feel good, worthy, equal, appreciated, included and loved?
Gotter, A. (2020, August 4). The 57+ Instagram Statistics You Need to Know in 2020. AdEspresso by Hootsuite. https://adespresso.com/blog/instagram-statistics/
Holland, G. & Tiggemann, A. (2017). “Strong beats skinny every time”: Disordered Eating and Compulsive Exercising in Women Who Post Fitspiration on Instagram. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 50(1), 76-79. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1002/eat.22559
Murashka, V., Liu, J., & Peng, Y. (2020). Fitspiration on Instagram: Identifying Topic Clusters in User Comments to Posts with Objectification Features. Health Communication, 1-12. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1080/104110236.2020.1773702
Prichard, I., Kavanagh, E., Mulgrew, K. E., Lim., M. S. C. & Tiggemann, M. (2020). The Effect of Instagram #fitspiration Images on Young Women’s Mood, Body Image, and Exercise Behavior. Body Image, 33, 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.02.002
Serlin, D. (2020). The Effects of Exposure to Body Positive and Fitspiration Instagram Content on Undergraduate Women’s State Body Satisfaction, State Body Appreciation, and Mood [Doctoral dissertation, Arizona State University]. ProQuest. https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/2409161935?pq-origsite=primo
Slater, A., Varsani, N., & Diedrichs, P. C. (2017). #fitspo or #loveyouself? The Impact of Fitspiration and Self-Compassion Instagram Images on Womens Body Image, Self-Compassion, and Mood. Body Image, 22, 87-96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.body.im.2017.06.004
Tiggemann, M. & Zaccardo, M. (2015). “Exercise to be fit, not skinny”: The Effect of Fitspiration on Women’s Body Image. Body Image 15, 61-67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.06.003
Tiggemann, M. & Zaccardo, M. (2016). ‘Strong is the new skinny’: A content Analysis of #fitspiration Images on Instagram. Journal of health and psychology, 23(8), 1003-1011. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1177/1359105316639436
Toffoletti, H. & Thorpe, H. (2020). Bodies, Gender, and Digital Affect in Fitspiration Media. Feminist Media Studies, 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2020.1713841
32 thoughts on “Instagram’s Fitspiration Community and its Negative Effects on Women’s Self-Esteem and Body Satisfaction”
I have enjoyed reading your paper as it critically examines the negative side of social media. I feel that your paper highlights the growing need for education around social media content, and how it can be easily manipulated to portray an unrealistic standard – in this case the ‘fitspo’ ideology.
Do you think this issue would subside if more people were more educated about how to critically engage with media? Users would be able to contextualise content with the knowledge that a lot of it is in fact curated, rather than simply consuming content and putting oneself at the risk of subscribing to unrealistic and potentially dangerous standards. Furthermore, do you think that platforms should have a responsibility in playing a part in this education?
Body image is such an important topic and I was very interested in reading your paper. This has been an issue for such a long time and it feels like it’s a lot harder to see examples of body positivity compated to fitspo across different platforms. I often wonder if the algorithms on platforms such as Instagram favour certain types of content over others? I have seen this on TikTok as my partner and I follow people who are body positive, people of colour, or a combination of both. It has been my experience on this platform that you really have to go out of your way to see this content initially and then have it automatically suggested by the platform. I’m glad to see the body positivity movement gaining more traction and seeing different body types being celebrated. Aiming for the homogenisation of body types on social media will likely end up doing harm as not everyone has the capacity to achieve a “fit” body type. Overall I found your paper to be well researched and easy to read. Well done!
Great paper, I’m so pleased I finally read it 🙂
I wonder if (hopefully) sooner rather than later with greater awareness about how influencers, particularly those in the #fitspo space, create curated content that is highly edited (photoshopped) and ‘unreal’, that viewers will become more skeptical of this content to the point women and men’s self esteem is not as adversely impacted by it.
I guess there will always be those in the community who are more vulnerable and susceptible to being influenced by the sort of content you have described but with more research out in the world, such as your paper, along with other positive body image movements we can only hope such curated content will be viewed for exactly what it is – not real/relatable.
Thanks for the read!
Thank you and I hope so too! Apart from Influencers being honest about editing, posing, filters, etc. it is sad to think that there is only a Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct called the ‘Body Image Law’ which came about in 2010 (Bromberg, et al., 2019, p. 185). We are yet to have an actual law like France and Israel (Bromberg, et al., 2016, p. 2). I think that perhaps a law could actually help people decipher what is ‘real’ and what is ‘fake’ if they have issues identifying photo alterations.
I agree that there will perhaps still be people promoting ideals and trying to conform to them. If such a law was passed, I wonder if cosmetic enhancements and surgery would become more popular in an effort for Influencers, or their followers, to not have to clarify that their photos aren’t necessarily ‘real’?
Your paper is truly amazing!
i really enjoyed reading this work as it is an issue that has become very significant during these past few years, people on Instagram has created a fake perfect body image that has made others hate there actual body.
Thank you! With social media use becoming more normal and a part of our everyday lives, this is definitely a topic I find interesting and wish more people were aware of.
I read with concern on the negative impact of Fitspo on women’s self-esteem and body satisfaction. While social media platform such as Instagram has been widely used for promotional activities in the community, we must not underestimate its negative effect even though the intention is good. Your paper has highlighted another example of the negative impact of social media. Thanks for your sharing.
Thank you Elaine!
This topic is something I am very passionate about as it affects so many people and I don’t think self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, etc. issues in relation to Instagram are discussed enough!
Hello Alicia! I knew nothing about Fitspo until reading your paper. I do not use Instagram a lot because I feel that in general it portrays a lot of ideals which (for me) are unattainable. Viewing them regularly made me feel dissatisfied with my own lifestyle, supporting your thesis statement. I understand there are ways that we can adjust our feed to limit exposure to these, but it is just easier for me to use other platforms where I feel less pressured. Can you please expand on your comment “Influencers as part of the Fitspo community can be seen editing their photos…”? There are plenty of easy ways for people to edit their photos these days making them “cheap fakes”, (Smith & Mansted, 2020: https://www.aspi.org.au/report/weaponised-deep-fakes). Such processes enable them to minimise their undesirable features and highlight others. Have people in the Fitspo community been known to do this? Would such users receive a negative backlash from their community when unmasked? Or support to encourage them to achieve their dream ideal? I have heard of the #bodypositivity movement and it sounds much more supportive of the wide variety of physical traits women have. In line with Jeremy’s comment, one of my favourite quotes (from an “unknown” author) is “The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgement”. What a lovely proposed “ideal” you close your paper with. Sadly, we have got to smash a lot of our preconceived cultural notions about beauty before we arrive at such a worthy understanding. Regards, Karena
Tammy Hembrow has been accused for using photoshop with her Insta perfect photos being compared to paparazzi photos or fan photos where her body looks significantly different. Another example is Ashy Bines, who in 2016, admitted she has shared photoshopped images to her social media accounts. These are some of the main Fitspo Influencers I can think of. Both of these Influencers have received backlash for editing and promoting unrealistic images to their loyal followers.
I agree the the #bodypositivity movement sounds much more inclusive and perhaps less problematic and I love this quote you have shared as well!
We can dream of a world where the ideal is to be yourself but, as you say, there is so much that needs to be fixed before making this thought into a reality.
Hello Alicia. Wow! I just checked out Tammy and Ashy and I am shocked and surprised that they felt the need to edit their photos when they look so amazing already! I suppose it is good that they received negative feedback for doing this, although it is sad it happened at all. It reflects the sort of pressure they must feel under to present the perfect image to their public.
Looking at #bodypositivity I found @bingeeating.dietician, whose Insta presence is a huge contrast to those in the Fitspo community. Nowhere near as many followers, but she is all about being happy with the person you are and the body you have, instead of changing your body to become a happy person. I definitely prefer that type of influencer. Maybe I can use Instagram and not feel depressed by all the beautiful images! Thank you for encouraging me to look at Instagram with new eyes. Regards, Karena
It is so sad that people we see as beautiful do this, but I guess if we were to edit our photos someone could say the same about us too.
I will have to check that account out! I also love @biancakrigovsky, @karinaairby (owner of @moana_bikini), @Spencer.barbosa, @kelclight and @mikzazon just to name a few!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading you’re paper and I mostly agree with what you’ve said about fitspo, but I believe that it’s more of a general general problem with how we use social media. Everybody’s social media is curated to a point and everyone’s profile is made to make them and their lives seem more perfect then reality, it’s not just limited to fitspo. People make comparisons of themselves to lifestyles and images of people that aren’t necessarily showing the whole truth all over social media so I don’t necessarily know whether it’s the fitspo that’s the problem but how we all use social media itself.
Thanks! I agree that there are elements of self-preservation even unconsciously by those who are wanting to share a more authentic view of their life. With self-esteem and body dissatisfaction I think Fitspo can definitely be more direct with its impact to women as the one of the main focuses of these posts are body image. Yes, people can make comparison to a range of other posts but Fitspo is found to relate more to self-esteem and body dissatisfaction, resulting in eating disorders, than other types of posts. For example Holland and Tiggemann (2017, 77-78), found that Fitspo posters are more likely than travel posters to have eating disorders and have exercise obsessions due to their strive for masculinity and thinness (https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1002/eat.22559). Different types of social media that people are viewing potentially have different impacts. Another example is that of lifestyle posters sharing the highlights of their lives. Individuals that view positive posts may believe that the poster has a better life than what they do and consequently become jealous. Instagram users do not have the choice when it comes to their comparison being a positive (upward) or (negative) downward comparison, but because of people only posting this desirable content, it makes it much easier for viewers to experience negative comparisons (de Vries, et al., 2017, 223-226, https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2016.1267647). This can affect life-satisfaction but not necessarily body-satisfaction.
Even without social media I think that people would still make these comparisons be it from traditional media, physical photographs or talking with friends.
Hi Alicia. Your conference paper was great. I really enjoyed reading it. I agree with your point that Instagram has really made females insecure about their physical appearance. To a point where they feel unsure to post pictures as if Instagram is only for a specific body types. Though, it might not have been the intention, the social media platform has slowly become one where fitspiration is slowly becoming a default. Females are urged to change themselves to fit into this virtual community.
Do you thing there are ways that Instagram could change this point of view and become more acceptable and body image friendly?
I think you will enjoy my paper. It is about unrealistic body image and facial appearance on social media. Here is the link:
Thank you! Just the other day I was looking at hashtags on Instagram. To my surprise the hashtag ‘skinny’ was marked as sensitive content yet ‘fat’ wasn’t. I find this very strange.
I took a look at Instagrams own profile and they seem to be more inclusive than I initially assumed they would have. I don’t think that Instagram can say control ‘trends’ but perhaps I think they could be more inclusive on their own page or block the use of hashtags such as ‘skinny’ and ‘fat’. But with saying that people can always make different hashtags meaning the same thing. I think it comes down more to the user and the online community they are in than Instagram as a company.
Thank you for a great read, I really enjoyed your paper!
I wasn’t going to comment as I didn’t feel I could bring anything to the table….. until I was looking at my Facebook timeline and saw this being shared by one of my FB friends and thought it somehow relevant to your paper.
Bob Marley was once asked if the perfect woman existed. And he replied:
Who cares about perfection?
Even the moon is not perfect, it is full of craters…
And the sea? it’s too salty and dark in the depths.
The sky? Always so infinite, that is, the most beautiful things are not perfect, they are special and every woman like every man she is and every person chooses who is ′′ special ′′ in their life.
Stop wanting to be ′′ perfect “, try to be free and live doing what you love, not wanting to please others.
I do not have instragram for exactly the reason that fitspo or thinspiration exist! We are all different shapes and sizes and we should strive to be the best and healthiest we can be, but by working with others, encouraging others and not comparing ourselves to others.
Thank you! I have never heard of this quote but I absolutely love it. This reminds me of something else I have heard along the lines of just because a flower is beautiful doesn’t mean the moon is not.
I 100% agree with you. What small pleasure does an individual get from putting themselves on a pedestal when they could have the great pleasure of uplifting and encouraging others to feel proud and happy within themselves?
I would also love to read your paper Jeremy! Please feel free to link it or share the title 🙂
Sure thing 🙂
I hope you enjoy the read….
This was such an interesting read! I constantly find myself comparing my body to fitness influencers, though I have found that unfollowing these accounts has made it so much better. I’ve also been seeing more influencers in this industry acknowledging the negative fitspo ideals and challenging them – such as the Keep It Cleaner girls Laura Henshaw and Steph Claire Smith. Do you think this recent movement is going to overrun the fitspo influencers that promote unrealistic “healthy” lifestyles? Or do you think it is here to stay and is more dependent on the personalities of the viewers/how susceptible they are to body dissatisfaction?
I wonder if you could give my paper a little look too? I talk about some negative effects of social media as well!
I myself have unfollowed people for this exact reason. I will have to check Laura and Steph out!
I do hope that more Influencers acknowledge the negativity and challenge the ideals, I follow some who do. I think that there will always be people that idealise thinness, etc., but I would love for it to not be the “norm”. I do think it depends on the viewer and if they have certain ideas that they deem as ideal. I think more Influencers are taking steps to push away ideals and I hope that good physical and mental health will become the ideal, not what someones body looks like.
Thanks for this interesting read, I’ve enjoyed engaging with your conference paper and research, you should be proud of your work!
I was wondering if you’ve had a chance to read Instagram Use and Self-Objectification: The Roles of Internalisation, Comparison, Appearance Commentary, and Feminism by Feltman and Szymanski. They break down some really interesting concepts especially in regard to objectification theory. They found that women on Instagram with high feminist beliefs were less likely to be affected by internalisation and comparison opposed to women with low feminist beliefs.
Do you think that feminism plays a role in how women are affected by the fitspo community?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Feltman, C. E., & Szymanski, D. M. (2018). Instagram use and self-objectification: The roles of internalization, comparison, appearance commentary, and feminism. Sex Roles, 78(5-6), 311-324. doi:http://dx.doi.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1007/s11199-017-0796-1
Thank you! I haven’t had a chance to read this but I will have to check it out. What you have said is very interesting.
I think the captions that Fitspo posters and Influencers preach feminism, inclusive and equality in may give viewers a sense of these aims, be it long-term or for a brief moment. As you mentioned from the reading above, maybe what one takes away is more related to the beliefs of both the poster and reader.
I really enjoyed reading your paper and I think that the topic that you chose is a very important issue of today’s society. On one side Instagram helps in the fight of body positivity but on the other side there is still this pressure on women to look like the ‘perfect fit body’. Movements such as Fitspiration should be one that encourages women of all sizes to keep fit by providing some healthy eating tips and also to portray bigger bodies that are still FIT.
Do you think that showing more plus-size women in the Fitspiration community can help to change the negative effects that Fitspo has on women’s self-esteem? Or do you think that it will encourage more hate towards this body type as it is considered as not fit?
Overall your paper is very informative and interesting to read. You have done good research to give weight to your arguments. I really hope to hear from you soon.
I also encourage you to check out my paper, “Black Natural Hair Vloggers on YouTube Are Empowering Their Audiences’ by Encouraging Them to Embrace Their Black Identity.”
Thanks you! I think the Fitspiration community could help in terms of showing that all bodies are valid, normal and beautiful. I think that it could project hate towards these body types but sadly I think, that is even outside of fitspo, that bodies that don’t fit the ideals get hate. Perhaps this is more a societal issue that needs to be fixed. However, if it was fixed, I think hate would still be given as people see fit as a something that can be seen, not something internal.
I really enjoyed reading your paper and you brought up some really valid points. To answer your opening statement question, I do find myself comparing my own body image to those influencers I follow on Instagram.
I do agree that Fitspiration has more negative than positive impacts in the sense that it puts pressure on women to feel the need to look a certain way because their favorite Instagram influencers look that way as well. The idea of Fitspiration also leads to people believing everything that is put on Instagram and they tend to follow the trend which leads to eating disorders as you’ve mentioned.
Instead of promoting weight loss through quick fixes and instead of trying to attain the perfect body image, these influencers should put emphasis on leading a healthy lifestyle through nourishing yourself to feel good instead of starving yourself to look a certain way. Although a few influencers have been promoting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, more influencers should put their focus on this
Definitely! I think healthy living and healthy weightless is so important. I see way too many influencers sharing “quick fixes” that don’t seem very healthy. I do wonder if the promotion of these “quick fixes”, along with Fitspo, further create issues for those already struggling with self-esteem and mental health issues? With you mentioning this, it makes me further question the integrity of some influencers and if they just want to make a quick dollar?
I feel like they would certainly create issues for those already struggling due to the fact that achieving the ‘ideal body’ they see on Instagram would not be achievable in the short run as it is ultimately a lifestyle as opposed to a quick fix and I believe that most people fail to understand that and are always looking for the easiest or quickest solution which is somewhat unattainable.
I would agree with you in the sense that I do question the integrity of some influencers as well as I think that they are more focused on making quick cash as opposed to actually educating and promoting products that they truly believe in. Too many times, I’ve seen influencers promote products for the sake of doing so and this becomes fairly obvious in the way they promote their products.
I would love to hear your take on this as well 🙂
I definitely agree that to get to the physique similar to these Influencers that there is no ‘quick fix’ despite them promoting products likes 30 day skinny teas. Another issue is that these body types aren’t achievable for everyone. For example the thigh gap trend where people were trying so hard to get one like their favourite Influencers. The thigh gap can be impossible for some people to get as told by exercise psychologists and dieticians (see this article for example https://www.youbeauty.com/fitness/why-youll-never-have-thigh-gap-and-thats-ok/). There are even YouTube exercise videos promoting that by doing their workout for however many days will give you a thigh gap despite it not being possible for everyone.
With ideals being promoted that are not physically possible for some people, it can be disheartening for people and potentially damage body image and self-esteem even more if they cannot obtain these ‘ideals’. Using the thigh gap as an example, I think Influencers should educate their viewers that these ‘ideals’ aren’t possible for everyone and rather than inferring that you need this ideal to be beautiful, promote that you’re already are. We must also keep in mind that being a Fitspo Influencer is a job where they are potentially working out daily, or multiple times a day, and this level of activity is perhaps not possible for other people working outside of the fitness industry.
Hi Alicia! I absolutely enjoyed your paper and I agree that Fitspiration has more negative than positive impact. There is that society pressure to always bring up the ‘ideal’ body image. And as an active Instagram user, I’ve seen people suffering from eating disorder due to Fitspiration. Nowadays, even if there are countless of body positive contents, Instagram seems to have some underlying political aspect by promoting fitspiration more than mental health and self-acceptance of unconventional body shape which should be included in it. The concept of Fitspiration should aspire to maintain a healthy lifestyle; maybe talk on how to eat healthily your favourite food and spread physical awareness rather than sponsoring slim models, which constantly try to convince the audience that they are better than others.
Have a look on my paper following the link below https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/26/from-new-york-streets-to-instagram-community-the-chronicles-of-body-positivism-movement-of-curvy-women-and-its-transition-to-social-media/
The societal pressure is real! I agree that there is always an underlying ideal, even when I see body positivity posts there are always comments reinstating the thin ideals.
I agree, when I think of health I think of a balance related to food and movement that is individual to everyone’s needs, not a body shape. On my Instagram popular page I have seen posts about calories and that “you don’t need to eat this”, but recently I have seen the pages change their perspective to something along the lines of “you want it? You eat it”, reflecting that you don’t always need to eat the best, sometimes you just want something or need it for your soul.
Slowly, very slowly, I can see changes being made by certain Influencers/accounts and I hope that body positivity rules over these ideals that we discuss, but do I think that thin ideals may always be an underlying issue.