The popularity of healthy lifestyle in recent years has lead to a boom of health and fitness blogs, Facebook pages and groups, and Pinterest boards that are constantly bombarding us with inspirational images and slogans. But there is a difference between healthy motivation and beautiful, but unhealthy ideals. And experts now warn that social media can cause unhealthy fitness obsession and actually do more harm than good.
We all remember the powerful slogan “Strong is the new sexy” or “Strong is the new skinny.” Now, it has moved to “Healthy is the new skinny”. These inspirational slogans are usually accompanied by photos of strong, toned women and can be really encouraging to all of us who try to do our best to stay fit as much as possible. But more often, these “fitspirations”, as they are known, are actually sexualized, appearance-based, rather than health-focused images. A team of researchers at Fliners University in Australia is now exploring the idea that “fitspiration” phenomenon is detrimental to women’s health and wellbeing.
Fitspiration, or “fitspo”, is a widely popular Internet term for images and slogans, designed to inspire people to quit being a couch potato and achieve their fitness goals. It’s not a new concept, but it’s now really everywhere – from news websites to lifestyle columns, to social media networks and ads. The thin ideal for women is still present; entering our lives mostly from fashion magazines and marketing, researchers say, but the new fit ideal is dominating social media. And we are all there. This ideal focuses on the concept that women now need not only to be thin, but also strong, fit, and toned.
Slogans such as “Sweat is your fat crying” is extremely weird, but that’s not the only issue – they come along with images of young, pretty women with unbelievable bodies that let’s be honest, most ladies will never achieve. And at some point, you do feel great after a workout, but you notice you just can’t obtain these perfect legs, incredible six-pack and biceps, no matter what you do. This, according to experts causes anxiety and depression as a result of body dissatisfaction. Other risks include disordered eating and unhealthy exercise behavior.
So, women should not try to match up these ideals – most of them are impossible to achieve. You need to know your body type and not chase unrealistic goals, ending up with an eating disorder or serious health issue. Don’t trust everything you see on the Internet – eating fat isn’t just good for your health, it’s necessary. And yes, there is such thing as too much exercise.