If you have an Instagram account, chances are you have seen pictures of tons of fitness models with ripped abs and killer physique, personal trainers trying to convince you that their fitness and meal plans are the best for weight loss, to build a squat booty, to get abs, etc… You will also find Herbalife promoters telling you that you need to use their products to lose weight, and even average girls/guys like all of us who are sharing their weight loss successes and their methods, changes they have made in order to achieve their goals. If you happen to be looking for direction, how to start living healthier, Instagram is probably not the first place to look for it. Chances are you will get confuse as far as which way to go, which fitness model’s techniques you should trust the most, which way is healthier, gets you result faster. Should you start counting your macros on myFitnessPal, follow intuitive eating, the 80/20 rule, the 90/10 rule, what about the Paleo Diet, Keto anyone? Yet, you have seen fitness inspiration just in time for “the holidays” or “bikini season” or your “big day” to motivate you to “get fit” – also known as “fitspiration.” Motivational messages can be found on your explore page and on your newsfeed, if you happen to follow a lot of fitness pages. Do any of these sounds familiar?
“Look good, feel good.”
“Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going.”
“Girls who are naturally skinny are lucky. Girls who have to fight to be skinny are strong.”
Not to be an hypocrite, as an individual who have used Instagram as a way to lead a healthier lifestyle before, but those messages, the whole concept of “fitspiration” and “thinspo” do nothing but promote eating disorders, obsessions on the number on the scale, obsessions on how “clean your diet is” and body image dysmorphia. Something that, at first, could start with a young girl/women wanting to make a change for the better, think of using Instagram as a platform for motivation or inspiration, usually is turned into wanting to look like that fitness model, wanting ripped abs, or the tight gap on that girl they follow. Go on any fitness page on instagram, and you are likely to find comments such as ” I wish I had you body,” “I wish I had abs like yours, a tight gap like yours” or what seem to have been the new trend these days (at least on my explore page), a fat booty with a tiny waist to match.
Most girls and guys don’t realize that most of these models don’t look like their pictures. Most of these pictures are photoshop to resemble what is culturally considered to be hot and desidered. For latina and black girls, its a tight waist and bigger butt because that is what society tells us that black and latino men likes. For caucasian girls, maybe it’s that tight gap because, well, just open a magazine or watch one of the Victoria Secret shows featuring their Angels, you’ll understand. They become imprisoned in a body that is never good enough, fit enough, skinny enough, thick enough, toned enough, because they keep going after a look that is unachievable.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have businesses who have taking that opportunity to promote their health and fitness inspired products. Skinny teas to help you lose your gut without exercising, waist trainers to help you achieve that tiny bitty waist, body wraps for instant result, again without the need of exercising or eating healthier. Fitness pages also promote these products (they, without a doubt get paid to do so and at times receive those products for free) and they do so not considering that they are promoting fad diets and quick fixes that don’t really support health.
Many young girls, women in the U.S. and the world suffer from an eating disorder and many also suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. Although Instagram can be a positive platform for body positivity, and real health that is focused on a healthy mind, body and spirit; I do acknowledged that many users use their account to promote those things. But, depend on who you follow, it could be very destructive to your self esteem and your health because the majority is promoting the opposite.