How #Fitspiration is harmful, not helpful

March 19, 2019

I try not to follow anyone posting regular fitspo, but with over 16 million fitspiration posts, it’s pretty hard to avoid on Instagram!


Decades of research has indicated that, even brief exposure to ‘idealised’ images in the media and advertising has a negative effect on body image and mood. Recent research has also confirmed that viewing fitspiration leads to increases in body dissatisfaction, and is worse for body image than viewing idealised thin images. In some studies, participants reported that fitspiration inspired them to exercise, but this did not translate into increases in exercise behaviour.


In contrast, viewing images of average-sized models has been found to enhance body appreciation, or positive body image. Evaluations of media campaigns that use real women of all sizes, such as This Girl Can, and #jointhemovement found that these campaigns increased appearance satisfaction, and intentions to exercise.



that people with high levels of body appreciation are more likely to look after their bodies and engage in physical activity.


How does looking at #fitspo make you feel? Could you consider whether your brand could celebrate diversity and make people feel better about their bodies?



Dr Zali Yager is a researcher in the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University, and an expert in body image. Zali is also the Director at Well Researched.

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