We all know that thinspo—thin inspiration–is a controversial internet phenomenon in which girls are inspired to lose weight by looking at photos of skinny women with thigh gaps. Bones are beautiful, starvation becomes a weight loss technique and eating disorders often come with the territory.
But a movement built around aspirating to become fit and healthy shouldn’t be compared to something so destructive, right?
I know I’m not alone in this, but whenever I see fitspo–fitness inspiration–slogans and imagery on Tumblr, Facebook or other social media networks, I start to feel really uncomfortable.
It’s not inherently bad to be inspired to have a healthier lifestyle. For anyone who has struggled with weight or health issues, developing better eating habits and an exercise routine and having a community online to motivate you can be really amazing. So I am not of the belief that fitspo is simply thinspo with abs.
But, for the most part, fitspo seems to be thinspo with abs. And it really gives me the creeps.
Here are my top three problems with fitspo:
1) It claims to be about health when in reality it still subscribes to the idea that healthy looks a certain way.
I wasn’t aware that having a balanced diet and exercising were the same as striving for defined abs and a crop top “acceptable” body. But if you look at the fitspo tag on Tumblr, you’ll be inundated with flat stomachs and razor sharp hip bones with the occasional sports bra thrown in. In this way, I think that fitspo is even more dangerous than thinspo because it operates under the guise of health despite the fact many elements of it can be so destructive.
2) It’s more shaming than motivational
Food that isn’t fruit or yogurt becomes the enemy, and not feeling like doing a ton of squats becomes a weakness. We’re human beings, not robots. Sometimes, despite how great our diets are or how much we exercise, we feel like having a brownie. There’s nothing wrong with eating a brownie. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or that you have no self-control, it means that you want a brownie.
3) It’s obsessive
Working out and watching what you put into your body aren’t inherently bad, but let’s not pretend that this behavior can’t become unhealthy and obsessive. When you start hating yourself for indulging in a few french fries or skipping a day of intense squats, how is that healthy behavior? How healthy is fitspo if you end up losing your love handles and losing your mind at the same time?
If there are aspects of fitspo that make people feel confident, healthy and strong, then more power to them. But it’s hard to focus on the positives when the community’s motivational slogans–“keep going” and “you can do it”–feel contrived. They’re lost among spray tanned tummies and thigh gaps.
What do you think of fitspo? Have you ever participated in the fitspo community? Tell us in the comments!