With a sigh, a bar of chocolate in my left hand and my smartphone in my right hand, I relax on the sofa. Hach … The yoga class was incredibly good, I feel deeply relaxed and at ease in my skin. I bite off a piece of chocolate with relish and scroll through my Instagram feed.
It’s probably some kind of occupational disease that I mainly follow fitness bloggers and sports profiles, and so far I’ve always found the training videos and motivational tips to be a great inspiration for my own workouts. But only now, lying so comfortably on the sofa, do I notice that one ultra-tight washboard abs follows the next on my mobile phone display.
My gaze wanders on to the piece of chocolate that has been bitten – and to my stomach. I pinch my little bacon roll – and it’s gone, my wonderful after-yoga wellbeing. Instead, you feel guilty. If I had gone another lap this morning … And I could have saved myself snacking … Great , thanks #fitspiration !
What is Fitspiration?
Originally the hashtag “fitspiration” – a mixture of the words fitness and inspiration – was meant somewhat differently. It was the counter-movement to “thinspiration”, the play on words made up of thin and inspiration. A term that has now become synonymous with eating disorders and forums full of young girls who mutually encourage each other that nothing tastes as good as the feeling of being thin. Motivation for anorexics.
fitspiration (or its big brother #fitspo with over 57 million hits), on the other hand, relies on curves and muscles and represents the message: Train hard, live well and give your body what it needs instead of starving it.
And since hashtag trends are always arm in arm with Insta celebrities, there are also the so-called Fitspo stars, such as Kayla Itsines ( @kayla_itsines ) and Rachel Brathen ( @yoga_girl ), who have millions of enthusiastic followers.
Of course, all of this can have positive effects on your own life. “Pictures of sporty, slim women can be used as an effective source of motivation,” says Mila Hanke, sports psychologist and mental trainer for competitive and amateur athletes ( www.sportandmind.info ). “From a psychological point of view, however, it is only harmless if you play such photos uses as a mental trick for his personal goals and does not allow himself to be put under pressure by the body cult extremes. “
The dark side of #fitspo
But that is exactly what is becoming more and more difficult. Like so many phenomena in the virtual world, the Fitspo movement quickly turned into extremes: dogged pressure to perform is about to replace the relaxed, healthy lifestyle that was once propagated. Between positive posts such as “Healthy is the new sexy” and “Nothing looks as good as a healthy body”, more and more aggressive statements such as “Don’t give up when it hurts, keep going until the training time is up!” gar “Are you sure you want to eat this cookie?”
Ouch! What is perhaps meant to be inspirational primarily makes you feel guilty when people grab sweets or – for whatever reason – do less or no sport. It now seems that being fit means having to sacrifice yourself. To be honest, I tend to lose my desire for this oh! such healthy lifestyle. What if I’d rather enjoy my life than keep making sacrifices?
So it is of little use that Instagram banned the term “thinspiration” and all related hashtags from the app in 2012. Because nowadays you can find almost as many skinny girls with narrow waists or extreme six-packs under #fitspo . So it’s no wonder that # fitspo was recently referred to as “#thinspiration in sports bra”: protruding pelvic bones were replaced by rock-hard abdominal muscles. And that does something to us, even if we don’t want to: According to a study by the University of Missouri, it takes between one and three minutes for a woman to feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied with her own figure when looking at slim, well-trained women’s bodies. No matter how happy she is with herself.
Insta stars feed false expectations
The problem of the distorted body image is of course not a new phenomenon. Women have been increasingly concerned with this topic since the 1960s. Because the catwalk models have become thinner and thinner over time, the ideals of the body have also changed accordingly. For years journalists and fashion designers have been made responsible for this change. Today the social media stars also get this criticism. Mainly because they have a special status: a kind of real-but-not-real that has been around since the advent of reality TV.
Insta stars are no longer the unreachable celebrities, but normal people – just more trained – and they promise that we can look just like them if we just work hard enough on it. What we often forget: That the Insta professionals have a lot more time to take care of your body – and that they are washed with all photo beautification products. You know the perfect angle to showcase your body. And they use the most advantageous filters and the best lighting to hide the smallest flaws.
Some even go further and use so-called selfie surgery apps, with which legs can be thinner, arms longer and waists optically narrower. And although what can be seen in the end often has little to do with reality, the constant observation of perfect bodies really shakes the self-image of normal women. “The supposedly more perfect the photo, the stronger the negative effect on the viewer’s self-worth,” warns the psychologist.