Stephanie Budhan ’21
Recently, a fitness trend known as “Fitspiration” has been permeating the internet, promoting a healthy lifestyle through proper exercise and diet. Fitspiration is often seen as a healthier alternative to trends such as “thinspiration” or “bonespiration,” which glorify thin bodies as well as extreme diet and exercise regimens. However, there seems to be controversy regarding the positive message of fitspiration. Some studies have pointed out that Fitspiration still perpetuates a narrow body image of lean, muscled bodies. A study conducted by Stephanie Eaton of the Department of Psychology at the University of Southampton, United Kingdom, investigated social media users’ opinions of fitspiration.
This study was qualitative in nature as data was primarily collected via focus group discussions. The researchers recruited participants aged 18- 25 to participate in focus groups of 2 -5 participants where they were provided prompts such as “how is Fitspiration used on social media” and “how does Fitspiration affect your behaviors and feelings?”. From these conversations, the researchers were able to extrapolate a few major themes regarding Fitspiration, including Fitspiration as “informative and motivational content” as well as a “negative effect on emotional well- being.”
Although some participants found Fitspiration as a positive content, the majority expressed a range of negative emotions towards Fitspiration, particularly jealousy towards the unattainable body images portrayed in Fitspiration and frustration over being pressured to follow these lifestyles. Furthermore, the participants exhibited caution when consuming Fitspiration and were critical of the content. Thus, this study has yielded new insights into young people’s perception of Fitspiration and the researchers suggest that teaching children to be critical of social media content such as Fitspiration will make them less vulnerable to its potential negative effects.
- S. Easton, et. al., Young People’s Experiences of Viewing the Fitspiration Social Media Trend: Qualitative Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, (2018). 2018. doi: 10.2196/jmir.9156.
- Image retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Socialmedia-pm.png