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Fitspiration=Fitsanity? What “Fitspo” is Doing to Your Brain

If Tumblr and Pinterest had a baby, its name would be “Fitspiration DePhotoshop.”

I’ve recently become infatuated with these blogs and sites, basically because I’m fascinated by other women who have reached the same goals I have for myself.  I never saw a problem with it, until the little ads on the side of my Facebook homepage started to read “Get Help For Your Eating Disorder”, with a link for some sort of rehabilitation center. 

Umm, did Facebook’s creepy ad-tracking system just try to diagnose me, and countless other Fitspiration-gazers, with actual medical disorders?  I’ve never been more inclined to find out the truth behind what these images do to our self-esteem, and if Facebook is right about the mental and emotional harm that they may cause – or, definitely cause.

It might seem like a simple procrastination method, but the side effects of these sites are oftentimes detrimental.  Before you click on the next “Fitspo” link, you should at least understand what you’re looking at whilst aimlessly scrolling through super-fit chick after super-fit chick.


1.                 The actual image may not even be the problem. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a word is worth a thousand emotions.  Many of us see an advertisement and know that everyone in the picture has been photoshopped at the very least, and at most, entirely configured by a computer.  Interestingly enough, the actual words plastered across a fitness model’s toned limbs are what really stick with us.  Even when these words bash “skinny” and promote “strong”, they are convincing you that your seemingly healthy body is not remotely satisfactory.  For some onlookers, these words can really be pure motivation, but for others they can be self hatred dressed in sneakers and a sports bra.

2.                 There’s a fine line between “Thinspo” and “Fitspo”.  Blogs that boast being all about “Fitspiration, not Thinspiration,” are still promoting aesthetics above all.  It’s natural to want visual approval on every level, but that shouldn’t be the only thing that inspires you.  Yes, you want to look ideal by the time spring break rolls around, but having a mindset that aims for health rather than appearance can help you get to that point faster and easier.  Pairing ideal bodies with words of “fitness” motivation can cause us to associate the size and shape of the model with her level of health.  Truth is, that model probably went on an insane diet right before that photo shoot, and there is strategically placed lighting to accentuate her muscles and curves.  If you saw her out on the street, she may look just like you and me.  There is nothing wrong with being thin, just as there isn’t anything wrong with being muscular – as long as health is the ultimate goal. As an amazing article on beautyredefined.com states: “We are capable of so much more than being looked at, but when our dialogue revolves around our bodies and we judge other women’s bodies, we are not getting anywhere progressive or happy or healthy.”

3.                 Sex, sex, sex.  These pictures make it seem totally normal for a woman to be squatting or deadlifting at the gym while wearing heels, hair extensions, and false eyelashes. Oh, and dressed in nothing but a fashionable sports bra and underwear, dripping in “sweat” (i.e. professionally applied body oil).  Obviously the image wants to send the message that built women have just as much sex appeal as any other woman, but it’s oftentimes taken a bit too far.  These pictures can imprint the idea that this is what beautiful women look like at the gym…when really, it’s not.  I can guarantee that those chicks get smelly and red in the face, too!  It’s just another case of sex selling something – but in this case, selling a philosophy rather than a product.  And this philosophy isn’t worth buying. 


There’s no real harm done in stocking up on visual fitness motivation online, as long as you know what you’re getting into once that page loads. Nothing that you see on these sites should make you feel ashamed or unworthy – everyone’s body is created differently, which leaves no room for comparison between you and those models.  Only you know what you are capable of, so don’t let a bunch of professionally photographed and highly edited pictures diminish your self-worth. 

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