#Fitspiration, time to tone it down

We all want to be fit right? Not only are we told that it’s insanely good for you, but you also have the added bonus of looking amazing. But how far is too far to go to achieve this?

We’re all familiar with the age-old concept of using a celebrity or model’s physique to aspire to. Now, a new trend has emerged on social media sites like Tumblr and Pinterest. This new craze shows pictures of impeccably toned and perfect bodies, with the face sometimes not included or a certain part of the body zoomed in on. The picture is usually accompanied by some inspirational quote, such as “don’t stop until you’re proud”, and “suck it up now and you won’t have to suck it in later”. This has become known as ‘fitspiration’.

Surely this is a good thing considering the obesity epidemic we are seeing in Ireland? In 2011 – 2012, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released statistics which showed that Ireland has a 20 – 24% obesity rate among adults. Is it not a move in the right direction for Irish people to be motivating themselves to be healthy and fit?

Fitspiration encourages people to push their bodies to the max through exercise to achieve the “perfect” body. There are those who think that this new trend is harmful and that the objectification and shaming of people is very apparent. One fitspiration picture in particular states “WOMEN TAKE NOTICE”, and then proceeds to show us what our rear ends SHOULD look like.

A ‘#StopFitspiration’ campaign has materialised on the internet, with people writing their own quotes over the ones already on pictures, such as “fitness is supposed to be about health not aesthetics” and “fitness, like beauty, is reflected in the inside”.

Lauren Bersaglio, the creator of the #StopFitspiration campaign, said that it’s the messages as opposed to the images that are harmful, “I was a Human Kinetics major in my first year of University and we learnt about healthy exercise and determining the right routine for your lifestyle vs. that of a professional athlete. We also learnt the signs, behaviours, and effects of overexercise and these messages go against all of the things we learnt were the correct way to ‘do’ fitness”.

With messages being sent out such as “Crawling is acceptable. Puking is acceptable. Tears are acceptable. Pain is acceptable. Quitting is unacceptable”, is fitspiration acceptable? It can be a good motivator, but it certainly needs to be toned down.

Suzanne Cooper

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