Does #fitspiration on social media encourage eating disorders?

Search the hashtags #fitspiration or #fitspo on social media, and you will be bombarded with photos of trim waists, chiselled abs, thigh gaps and salad galore. There is an ongoing active movement to get rid of any harmful content on social media, such as #thinspiration and posts glorifying self-harm, but is #fitspiration just another form of these, disguised by gym leggings and the #strongnotskinny tagline?

Fitspiration content is posted on social media and contains a range of different posts from workout guides to athletic fashion, to protein recipes and motivational bikini shots. As the hashtag suggests, the amalgamation of fitness and inspiration are what these posts show. Inspirational quotes and images to get people started or to keep people focused on their fitness journey.

Of course, with the constant coverage in the media about the rising levels of obesity and the importance of healthy eating and exercise for our general wellbeing, shouldn’t this inspiring material be positive for its audiences? Or, does it have a negative impact on us in the long term?

Well, chances are, if you are searching for #fitspiration, you probably already prioritise your fitness levels and physical appearance. However, the filtered, edited and photoshopped images showing skimpy models and hyper-muscular men could be damaging to how we perceive ourselves. Research suggests that we value our self-worth by comparing ourselves to others, and comparing our real lives with these fake lives shown on social media can really negatively affect our self-esteem and the expectations we have for ourselves.

Could this be you? Remember that the #fitspiration influencers only share what they want you to see. The images can be edited to look how they want, and chances are, they probably aren’t an accurate representation of the influencers’ real lives. Take what you see with a pinch of salt.

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