Checklist for bikini body:
1. Nike free runs
2. A fluro crop top with straps so flimsy it will only support a 5 year old child (but still pay $80 for it)
3. Sell soul to afford the Kayla Itsines workout guide
4. Goji berries, acai, protein powder, kale, spinach, and juicer
5. Throw out everything in cupboard. Grains, dairy, sugar, the whole lot. It’s all DEVIL FOOD.
6. Post body transformation pics on insta. You’re ready. #gopaleoorgohome #cleaneating #fitspiration #fitgirlsdoitbetter #imkidding
Why is it that self worth and admiration now stem from how hard you #mealprep and how ‘clean’ your food is? The world of fitspiration is a movement that on the outside appears to be positive and a motivation for good health. However, when you peel back the curtain, you will unveil a plethora of body shame, gurus who have failing health, and health claims that are straight up dangerous.
So let’s start with the basics – what is fitspiration? According to Everyday Feminism (2013), it is “any message … that encourages one to “persevere,” “push,” or even “suffer” through exercise for the sake of achieving change in one’s physical appearance.” It consists of images usually found on instagram and tumblr of ripped abs, squats and avocado toast. This can seem harmless, even a positive move away from ‘thinspiration‘; but the fundamental issue is that unrealistic bodies that take hours of training daily and a painfully strict diet to maintain are still promoted, but under the guise that these instagrammers are “everyday women or peers, rather than models” (Adams, 2015).
Take, for example:
Jen Selter. (7 millions instagram followers.)
Kayla Itsines. (3.6 millions instagram followers.) Or;
Ashy Bines. (580k instagram followers. )
The idea is that these images will speak to you at a personal level and encourage change. There you are, watching Orange is the new black and wolfing down some peanut m&ms (this is turning into an anecdote now), when you scroll through Instagram and BAM. EPIPHANY. Your life is a lie, how did you not know! Suddenly you teleport to the gym, you’ve got a protein shake and some brown rice and you’re squatting till you’re dropping… I don’t buy it.
The real question, however, is are these images actually dangerous? According to a study conducted by Huffpost, they can be. Out of a group shown travel images, and a group shown fitspiration images, huffpost found that “those who saw fitspiration images had greater body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem after the experiment than those who looked at travel images.” This was largely due to comparison of oneself to the fitness gurus. It was noted, however, that the images did motivate women to want to workout – the reason being? They felt shit about themselves. So it’s not just a case of ‘I’ll get my Selter butt tomorrow’ and continuing with OITNB, but a situation in which women literally feel worse about themselves.
Perhaps, however, the most danger comes from people who are not health experts pretending to be. Take the likes of Paleo Pete and Belle Gibson. Neither are health professionals; both claim that their eating habits can cure serious disease (even cancer and autism). This is horrific. It gives false hope to parents and people desperately searching for a cure who instead invest their time, energy and money into making bone broth (Paelo Pete doesn’t much care for the dangers of vitamin A overload that can be FATAL. #CAVEMAN).
Fitspiration and celebrity ‘nutritionists’ are flourishing in the current media landscape. This movement is counterproductive, unhealthy and in many cases can be dangerous.
So please, let see more of this:
And less of this:
Adams, R 2015, ‘The Major Downside of All Those #Fitspiration Photos, The Huffington Post, viewed 31 August 2015, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fitspiration-making-you-feel-bad-about-your-body_55d5f549e4b055a6dab32b57?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063§ion=australia&adsSiteOverride=au>
Bersaglio, L 2013, What Is Fitspiration, Anyways?, Everyday Feminism, viewed 31 August 2015, <http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/06/what-is-fitspiration-anyways/>