Fitspiration is a popular online trend, aiming to motivate others to develop a healthy lifestyle through eating healthy and exercising.1 It can be an easy distraction from everything on social media and is becoming more popular as more people quarantine due to the Covid-19 crisis. Social media, however, is a huge trigger for eating disorders. Anyone striving to eat healthier should be aware of potential problems before starting any type of Fitspiration program.
Social media leads many individuals to compare themselves to others which can lower self esteem. Obsessing over specific photos of friends or acquaintances that show an unattainable body-image lowers self-esteem and is a starting point for destructive behavior. It’s important to understand that social media can be a trigger for eating disorders and make sure things like Fitspiration don’t become an obsession.
Reasons why social media can trigger eating disorder behaviors:
- Exposure to Fitspiration leads to lower self esteem
- Comparison with “ideal” thinness or beauty
- Less comments on a photo result in body image disturbances
- Frequent untagging of photos
- Females exposed to photos of attractive peers have lower self-ratings of attractiveness
- Fitspiration on Instagram allows for repeated promotion of only this one body shape, which allows others to think that only thin and toned bodies can be fit and healthy
- Pictures of everyday women versus fashion models increases chance of social comparison
- Fitspiration tends to focus on appearance related benefits of eating healthy and exercising
Fitspiration programs are often sold to participants on the idea that their body image needs to be improved to fit a specific model. This type of thinking can quickly become an obsession that leads to an unhealthy diet. Consistently eating healthy and repeating good behaviors is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Fitspiration can cause a problem because people feel pressured to practice extreme behaviors to impress others on social media.
If you feel as though any accounts you follow are triggering an eating disorder or worsening your eating disorder, unfollow them. One thing you do have control over right now is where you invest your time and energy. Keeping a positive attitude about exercise and your diet is essential during these uncertain times and is needed to make sure you stay healthy.
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