Social media has become the most efficient way of sharing information, but it doesn’t take a communications major to tell you that. Although many people turn to different platforms to try and make it big, it also brings people together and creates new networks. “Instagram, the rising photo-sharing social networking site, has gained an enormous amount of global popularity” (Moon, Lee, Lee, Choi & Sung, 2016, p. 22), and has became an amazing environment for creating communities and sharing ideas. One trend that has become more popular over the last few years is fitness. Instagram has been very popular for promoting a healthy lifestyle and has provided a place to find inspiration… or #fitspiration. Although this sounds like a positive way to get people moving, there are a lot more implications that come up in this fitness journey. “Fitspiration is perceived to “model” ideas about health and fitness, shaping health beliefs and encouraging a “moral obligation” to achieve a particular body type” (Eysenbach et al., 2017). It’s clear social media has it’s ups and downs, but the dangers of this movement are hidden behind the people endorsing it.
Its becoming more and more difficult to scroll through your instagram feed and not see what your friends ate for dinner or how your followers are getting their #beachbods ready. How to get in shape shouldn’t be that hard, everyone is posting their #fitfam transformations and work out routines. “Users can add hashtags (#) to their photos or videos, which allow other people to more easily find and view them” (Dumas, Maxwell-Smith, Davis, & Giulietti, 2017, p.2), which allows these communities to grow and gain popularity. Social media has allowed their audiences to be both “consumers of content and the users of mobile social software in a manner that reshapes media in sometimes surprising ways” (Rowe & Hutchinis, n.d., p. 16). This has completely altered how we send and receive information. We no longer need a company throwing advertising in our face, its all over our instagram feeds! With “instagram [being] the fastest growing social media platform” (Smith & Sanderson, 2015, p. 343), it was only a short time until marketers knew where to post their latest fad. “Today, the term ‘Instafamous’ describes an individual who became famous via their profile on Instagram and is familiar to most users of this media.” (Djafarova & Trofimenko, 2018, p. 1-2) And these #InstaFamous users are showcasing their biceps and triceps and trying to share their routines with their followers. While promoting healthy living is a positive notion, it’s the journey and “get like me” attitude of the people behind the post that are infecting the minds and bodies of their followers. Its hard not to be influenced by these photos because they are setting a new standard for both men and women. Its difficult not to feel the physical demands and expectations created through these #fitspo posts.
It’s genius to have “bloggers and influencers become the new marketing tool [for] brands” (Chapingidza, 2017) because coming “directly from the customer is arguably more authentic than a commercial” (Schlossberg, 2016). Many #InstaFamous instagram accounts use #ads to make a profit from their posts. In regards to fitness, this can be very dangerous. Online users Some people are always looking for a short cut, and will buy into the products these fitness gods post about. Fitness inspirations, such as Tammy Hembrow, are constantly promoting protein powders and tea-toxes that will help you cut down and bulk up.
Photo from buzzfeed.com
Her partnership with ‘Womens Best Protein Powder’ is shown all over her instagram, and she even collaborated with them, so if you go on their website you can see Tammys favourites. All her #ads refer to her being better because of #WomensBest. Is that true? Maybe.
Photo from womensbest.com
@tammyhembrow is showing the world, she is the way she is because of this particular protein powder. Saying her amazing body is due to these products is ridiculous, but gets people interested. A healthy body is not determined by the products you take. As society continues to buy into these trendy #ads, health rates do not seem to be increasing. On the other side of the fitness sell out, we have the workout plans. While “companies increasingly use micro-celebrities for product endorsement (Djafarova & Trofimenko, 2018, p. 1), there are many famous fitness accounts that are also creating their own brands for their followers to get sucked into. Kayla Itsines, known for her incredible body and consistent drive, created a Bikini Body Guide program. This “has cultivated a massive community that goes so far to call itself Kayla’s Army” (Schlossberg, 2016). With the use of hashtags and continuous exposure, “Itsines has arguably built her empire using impressive before-and-after photos, which zero in on her fans’ respective journeys” (Schlossberg, 2016). She’s using her followers to provide the results, and thats amazing! But how do we know they followed this routine properly? We don’t, and we wont. The dangers of online workout routines and plans have increased with the continued popularity of fit being ‘in’. When looking at studies on health since the popularization of health culture, “eating disorders are on the rise throughout the world” (Lyons, 2017). “Researchers point to the media’s obsession with the ‘ideal body’ and ultra-thinness”… this includes a look at Westernization media’s influence on perception of self” (Lyons, 2017). Just to clarify, I am not saying there is a direct correlation between Kayla’s workout routines and eating disorders, but “despite the focus on fitness, fitspiration images are argued to focus heavily on the appearance of the body and emphasize looks rather than body functionality” (Eysenbach et al., 2017). This expose and constant comparison of ‘before and after’ aren’t necessarily showing a stronger healthier body. Its showing there is only one type of fit body. “Exposure to #fitspiration content can result in increased body dissatisfaction” (Deighton-Smith & Bell, 2017) and a constant comparison and struggle with ‘I did that, but I don’t look like that.
So why are things the way that they are? #InstaStars who we have made popular, are now telling us what we need in our lives; how we can be more like them. But why do we listen? Social media is socially constructed as it is simply given to us as a blank canvas. Therefore, it is up to the users to actively participate and shape this platform. Social construction is “a theoretical approach which states that societal structures are the product of social processes and are not biologically or naturally inevitable. This theoretical paradigm is often contrasted against essentialism, which states that social reality is the product of ahistorical, inevitable forces such as “natural law” or “divine will.”” (Shapiro, 2015 pg. 5). We are responsible for what is popular online. If society didn’t agree with it, the individual or movement wouldn’t be popular. “These “fitspiration” role models might not be the vision of health they have come to represent” (Groth, 2017). There are a lot of danger that accompany this type of promotions, and some standards that just cannot be met. What about those with different body types? Everyone loses and gains wait in different ways. I know I’m not the only one who’s bought into one trend or another, and I’m definitely in with the crowd that had to learn the hard way. Buying into these #ads only waste you hard earned dollars and give your #InstaInspo a big payday. Comments and reviews are definitely helpful when you’re unsure about a product, but… not everyone has the same body! Health professionals and nutritionists should have a bigger influence online. Maybe they do, but clearly I haven’t heard anything about them to have made any kind of significant change.
One size does not fit all
I’m not going to sit here and tell you social media is bad and you should stop listening to what you read online. I’m here to tell you to take it with a grain of salt. Cause #tbh I love social media and it’s seriously changing globalization. These health movements have so much potential and can cause amazing changes to the obesity levels across North America. It’s crucial to understand instagram is not fact; people only post what they want others to see. But ignorance online is what is causing these health risks to rise. You can’t buy your six pack, believe me… I wish you could. But no amount of products are going to change that. Every individual is different in how the process, break down, and burn calories. Its crazy to think a workout program is a ‘one size fits all’. I think its amazing that the online community is coming together to be healthy and promote a positive lifestyle, but there will always be a stigma surrounding online advertising and campaigns. “After all, loving your body is the most inspiring thing of all” (Groth, 2017), and we should be helping everyone feel that way.
Image from pinterest.com
1. Have you ever bought into any fads online? Did they work for you
2. What are your thoughts on the one program for all idea?
Chapingidza, N. (2017, May 31). The Rise of Australia’s Fitness Influencer Tammy Hembrow. Retrieved April, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-rise-of-australias- fitness-influencer-tammy-hembrow_us_59242c13e4b0e8f558bb29cd
Corrigan, T. F. (n.d.). The Political Economy of Sports and New Media.
Deighton-Smith, N., & Bell, B. T. (2017). Objectifying Fitness: A Content and Thematic Analy sis of #Fitspiration Images on Social Media. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. Ad vance online publication.
Djafarova, E., & Trofimenko, O. (2018). ‘Instafamous’ – credibility and self-presentation of mi cro-celebrities on social media. Information, Communication & Society, 1-15.
Dumas, Maxwell-Smith, Davis, & Giulietti. (2017). Lying or longing for likes? Narcissism, peer belonging, loneliness and normative versus deceptive like-seeking on Instagram in emerging adulthood. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 1-10.
Eysenbach, G., Holland, E., Moreno, M., Fernández, C., Carrotte, E., Prichard, I., & Lim, M. (2017). “Fitspiration” on Social Media: A Content Analysis of Gendered Images. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(3), Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2017, Vol. 19(3).
Groth, L. (2017, July 18). The Danger Lurking Behind Every #Fitspo Instagram Post. Retrieved February 08, 2018, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/1012749-danger-lurking-be hind-fitspo-instagram-post/
Lyons, L. (2017, September 17). Eating Disorders on the Rise All Around the World: An Over view. Retrieved April, 2018, from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/eating-dis orders-world-overview
Moon, Jang Ho, Lee, Eunji, Lee, Jung-Ah, Choi, Tae Rang, & Sung, Yongjun. (2016). The role of narcissism in self-promotion on Instagram. Personality and Individual Differences, 101, 22-25.
Rowe, D., & Hutchins, B. (n.d.). Globalization and Online Audiences. 7-17. Retrieved April, 2018.
Schlossberg, M. (2016, April 17). Instagram is spurring the biggest shift the fitness world has seen in decades. Retrieved April, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/instagram- and-the-fitness-world-2016-4
Shapiro, E. (2015). Gender circuits : Bodies and identities in a technological age / Eve Shapiro. (Second ed., Contemporary sociological perspectives series)
Smith, L., & Sanderson, J. (2015). I’m Going to Instagram It! An Analysis of Athlete Self-Pre sentation on Instagram. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 59(2), 342-358.
Szto, C., & Gray, S., (2015) Forgive me Father for I have Thinned: surveilling the bio-citizen through Twitter, Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 7:3, 321-337, DOI: 10.1080/2159676X.2014.938245
Main image from: http://www.massgainsource.com/best-ab-workouts-for-women/