The Dark Side of the #Fitspiration Revolution
You’ve probably seen the hashtags, references, or pictures of the Fitspiration ‘revolution.’ Personal trainers, fitness enthusiasts, and “I need to get up and exercise” Instragram users all use it. Why not?! It seems like a motivating type of tool that could provide that fit-inspiration we might need to do physical activity each day! Well, there can be a darker side to this sometimes seemingly innocent “rah rah’s” we need to get up and go. Many individuals, the majority of them women, already scrutinize their body size and shape on a daily basis. We do not need to look further than the diet industry. It is a very profitable machine that relies solely on women feeling badly about their bodies (and you’d better believe that this industry COUNTS on us and knows they will always have a steady stream of business, depressing as this fact might be!). If there is a ‘quick fix’ to change the way we look, well, we want in! We are bombarded by images of specially molded women (compliments of Photoshop of course, though this secret is never really ‘revealed’ to allow us to use our maximum projections idealizing what it might mean to have a thinner, fitter, not-too-thin, yet not-too-toned body type)! A girl can dream, right?! No, not our daughters, sisters, mothers, girlfriends, or wives. While we are not going to change our culture of glorifying women’s bodies (the ‘perfect’ body) anytime in the very near future (though we are changing every day, thankfully), we can take control and ownership about how we view, perceive, and treat our bodies.
While there can be some benefits to using #Fitspiration and using some of these images and quotes (typically posted by others) to motivate ourselves, there are others who put up glaringly negative messages about what we ‘should’ look like, what we ‘should’ be doing, and what you ‘could’ look like if you engaged in a variety of healthy and unhealthy practices. All of these driving negative forces can put a vulnerable population (again, mostly women) at risk for beginning a negative cycle of self-abuse with their words, thoughts, and actions. We already disparage ourselves as it is, and way too easily, I might add. Do we need to add another element to this layer of victimization? In addition, Fitspiration is easily accessible to generations of all women, including young girls, adolescents, college students, young adults, new moms, and our grandmas. If you currently use Fitspiration as a way to stay motivated and it seems like a healthy fit, then maybe the Fitspiration revolution can assist you. That is, your Fitspiration participation helps you stay motivated while viewing yourself in a positive way in regard to body image, physical activity, and nutrition.
For those that are in the fitness industry engaged in social media, such as personal trainers, be sure that the images, quotes, and ideals you are portraying are healthy, empowering, and positive messages. Note: when you post pictures of yourself and your ‘beach-ready-body’ 1 week after having a baby, though we are extremely happy for you, many women will be triggered by shame, guilt, and self-loathing about their own bodies. Should we take responsibility for every woman’s unhappiness? Absolutely not! But, if you are involved in motivating others in regard to physical activity, nutrition, and health, there needs to be a responsibility in how messages are shared and how they might be perceived.
Now, if exposure to images, quotes, and energy of Fitspiration fuels a trigger that elicits a venomous self-attack, including self-hatred, depression, anxiety, perfectionism, and the echoes in your head that you are not worthy of putting on a bathing suit, eating something not ‘clean,’ or not ‘allowed’ to sit on a couch to rest, then it may be time to think about your exposure to your friends at Fitspiration. Physical trainers, dieticians, athletic organizations, weekend ‘warriors,’ and casual exercisers, take a pause and reflect. Sincerely, #Empowered and #BodyLove.
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