Fitspo often takes the form of pictures of beautiful, lean and often well muscled young women; healthy meals (often boasting superfoods); and “motivating” slogans like “suck it up now so that you don’t have to suck it in later”.
So, is viewing Fitspo a good way to fuel your motivation to get fit and live healthy? Well, maybe. It depends.
Much of Fitspo content is focussed on the attainment of an aesthetic definition of female perfection; rather than being functionally fit and in good health, regardless of body shape or size.
Fitspo: Unrealistic Imagery?
The bulk of body imagery used in Fitspo shares many of the same qualities as thinspiration: promoting a very lean physique, through often objectified and sexualised images. Women are depicted without heads, or with the faces obscured; breasts, abs, hip bones are on prominent display. Some images are even of people in underwear – when was the last time you exercised publicly in yours?
Like Thinspo, Fitspo often depicts a narrow ideal of desirable female shape, which remains equally unattainable to many, even with devoted exercise and dietary control.
- Breasts are often enhanced, failing to demonstrate the loss of size that usually accompanies loss of fat mass.
- Photos are photo-shopped, filtered, and shot from attractive angles.
- Like fitness competitors, Fitspo “models” may engage in unhealthy behaviour (severe carbohydrate reduction and dehydration) prior to the photos, to enhance their apparent leanness and muscularity.
All of these factors contribute to unrealistic expectations of what is possible and sustainable. Yet, as many of the slogans would suggest, at its worst Fitspo content would suggest that if you can’t get there you are not trying hard enough. Re-pins, tags, shares and other proliferation of these messages provides you with evidence that this is what others think too.
Filtering your Fitspo
Fitspo is not all bad though; there are a great stack of genuinely inspiring, inclusive images and slogans that promote health, fitness and body acceptance. If viewing this stuff helps keep you motivated then great … but you might want to be careful of what other material you expose yourself to. Avoid material that makes you:
- Focus heavily on attaining a specific body shape, or a certain degree of leanness;
- Think about your value and attractiveness as an individual, as being reliant on your body shape;
- Develop rigid beliefs and unrelenting standards around food, eating, exercise and body weight or shape.
If you experience problems with your body image or need assistance achieving a healthy lifestyle, or a healthy relationship with food, consider making an appointment to see us at M1 Psychology.
Author: Kelly Gall, BSc (Hons), M Psych (Health), M Clin Psych, MAPS, MCHP.
Kelly Gall is a Health Psychologist who is passionate about helping clients improve their physical and emotional wellbeing. Kelly develops tailored, holistic and evidence-based treatment plans that incorporate psychological, physical and social strategies aimed at empowering her clients to achieve relief from psychological symptoms and improve their health. Find out more on her website, Healthy Inside and Out.
To make an appointment with Health Psychologist Kelly Gall, please call (07) 3067 9129 or you can book online today.
- Boepple, L. Thompson, J.K. (2014) A content analysis of healthy living blogs:evidence of content thematically consistent with dysfunctional eating attitudes and behaviours. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 47, PP 362-367.
- Ghaznavi, J. Taylor, L.D. (2015) Bones, body parts, and sex-appeal: an analysis of #thinsporation images on popular social media. Body Image, 14, pp 54-61.
- Perloff, R.M. (2014) Social media effects on young women’s body image concerns: theoretical perspectives and an agenda for research. Sex Roles, 71, pp 363-377.