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Fitspiration Thinspiration #LETSEXPLORE

Tuesday 04 November 2014

We live in a confessional society where we share, or bombard, other users with intricate, and sometimes unnecessary, details of our lives. And more recently, our daily food intake and our exercise habits have been at the forefront of “key pictures and statuses that I must share with the world”. It’s causing not only a society of over-sharers but also one that increasingly compares itself to others. The idea that fitness and health is viewed in a scientific or biological sense has been transformed by the digital age, and in particular, by social media platforms.

Fitspiration has been around for a while, the combination of fitness and inspiration, shortened to fitspo if you want to be down with the kids. Fitspo on social media is a bit difficult to get your head round sometimes. It has some very fine lines, and some very questionable character traits.

Those who share fitspiration posts range from celebrities, commoners and people who have become “Instafamous” as a result of uploading these fitness posts. But what they all have in common is that they’re all fitness and health fanatics. Some have got a reach of thousands of people who consume these fitspiration posts on a daily basis. Forget religion or musical idols, parents or teachers, these are the new inspirations for people today. But this not-so-new craze can cause some serious problems. It’s said that increasing exposure to such thin and healthy body ideals leads to amplified body dissatisfaction.

The negative impacts from unattainable body aspirations are dangerous, not just for today’s digital media users, but for the future of health and fitness too. There is a very thin line between what is inspiration for being fit and healthy, and what is inspiration for being thin. After all, fitspiration is sometimes just thinspiration disguised in a pair of running trainers.

Being able to access social media 24/7 means we can watch what exercise people are doing and what healthy things they’re eating constantly, and also be reminded about what we’re not doing. The guilt expands and magnifies within you until you can’t take it anymore. It leads you to question, “well if they can do it, why can’t I?” But what you didn’t see posted on that “Instafamous” person’s account, amongst the amazingly hot (in both the sweaty and pretty sense) gym selfies and healthy diet recipes, is the massive chocolate brownie they ate whilst watching some tragic television on a Friday night. Like I said previously, people are highly selective about what they post on social media. And when it comes to portraying a fit and healthy lifestyle, of course they won’t upload them scoffing down some southern fried chicken after a night on the vino.

So don’t let the guilt consume you too much… Go on, have that fourth cookie. I’m sure you’ve had a tough day. YOU DESERVE IT (and may I suggest washing it down with a pint of milk and a fifth biccie?).

Words: Eliza Frost
Illustration: Patrick Savile