With a sigh, a bar of chocolate in my left hand and my smartphone in my right, I let myself fall relaxed onto the sofa. Oh … The yoga session was incredibly good, I feel deeply relaxed and very comfortable in my skin. With pleasure I bite off a piece of chocolate and scroll through my Instagram feed.
Probably it’s a kind of occupational disease that I mainly follow fitness bloggers and sports profiles, and so far I always found the training videos and motivation tips to be a great inspiration for my own workouts. But only now, lying so comfortably on the sofa, I notice that on my mobile phone display one ultra-strong washboard stomach follows the next.
My gaze wanders on to the piece of chocolate I have bitten into – and to my stomach. I pinch my little bacon roll – and it’s gone, my wonderful after-yoga-wellbeing. Instead, feelings of guilt are spreading. If only I had gone for a run this morning … And I could have saved myself the nibbling … Great, thanks #fitspiration!
Originally, the hashtag “fitspiration” – a mixture of the words fitness and inspiration – was meant somewhat differently. It was the countermovement to “thinspiration”, the pun between thin and inspiration. A term that has now become synonymous with eating disorders and forums full of young girls who encourage each other to believe that nothing tastes as good as the feeling of being thin. Motivation for anorexics.
How to train on the Megaformer
#fitspiration (or big brother #fitspo with over 57 million hits), on the other hand, relies on curves and muscles and represents the message: train hard, live well and give your body what it needs instead of letting it starve.
And since hashtag trends always come arm in arm with Insta celebrities, there are also the so-called Fitspo stars, like Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines) and Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl), who have millions of enthusiastic followers.
All this can of course have a positive effect on your own life. “Pictures of athletically slim women can be used as an effective source of motivation,” says Mila Hanke, sports psychologist and mental coach for competitive and amateur athletes (www.sportandmind.info). “From a psychological point of view, however, it is only harmless if you playfully use such photos as a mental trick for your personal goals and do not let yourself be put under pressure by body cult extremists”.
Don’t let the six-pack selfies on Instagram & Co. put you under pressure © Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com
The dark side of #fitspo
But that is exactly what is becoming more and more difficult. Because like so many phenomena in the virtual world, the Fitspo movement soon went to extremes: A fierce pressure to perform is about to replace the relaxed, healthy lifestyle that was once propagated.
Between positive posts like “Healthy is the new sexy” and “Nothing looks as good as a healthy body”, more and more aggressive statements like “Don’t give up when it hurts, but keep going until your training time is up” or even “Are you sure you want to eat this cookie?
Mental health and social networks: How do they fit together?
Ouch! What is perhaps meant inspiringly is first and foremost a guilty conscience when people reach for sweets or – for whatever reason – do less or no sport at all. Meanwhile it seems that being fit means having to sacrifice yourself. To be honest, I rather lose the desire for this oh! so healthy lifestyle. What if I would rather enjoy my life than constantly making sacrifices?
So it is of little use that Instagram has already banned the term “thinspiration” and all related hashtags from the app in 2012. Because you can find almost as many skinny girls with narrow waists or extreme six-packs under #fitspo these days. No wonder #fitspo was recently referred to as “#thinspiration in Sport-BH ” was called: Protruding pelvic bones were replaced by rock-hard abs.
And that does something to us, even when we don’t want it to: According to a study by the University of Missouri, it takes between one and three minutes for a woman to feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied with her own figure when looking at slim, trained female bodies. No matter how happy she is with herself otherwise.
No more body shaming: This is how we define “fitness”
Insta-Stars feed false expectations
The problem of the distorted body image is of course not a new phenomenon. This topic has been increasingly preoccupying women since the 1960s. As catwalk models have become thinner and thinner over time, body ideals have changed accordingly. For years, journalists and fashion designers were held jointly responsible for this change. Today, even the social media stars are getting this criticism.
Above all, because they have a special status: a kind of real-but-not-real, which has existed since the advent of Reality-TV there.
Insta-Stars are no longer the unattainable celebrities, but normal people – just more trained – and they promise that we can look just like them if we just work hard enough. But what we often forget: That the Insta professionals have much more time to take care of your body – and that they are washed with all photo embellishers. They know the perfect angle to set your body in scene. And they use the most advantageous filters and the best lighting to conceal the smallest blemishes.
Some go even further and use so-called selfie-surgery apps, which make legs thinner, arms longer and waists optically narrower. And even though what you see at the end of the day often has little to do with reality, the constant observation of perfect bodies can really shake the self-image of normal women. “The more supposedly perfect the photo, the stronger the negative effect on the viewer’s self-esteem,” warns the psychologist.
Does she want to inspire others or is she just seeking recognition? © Syda_Productions / Shutterstock.com 8 “Fitness” trends straight from hell
5 Reasons to avoid a fitness instagrammist immediately
1. she tags all her photos with #fitness, but the pictures actually look a lot more like soft porn
2. her profile name contains the word “fit”, but actually she is just lolling obscenely on some sofas in every photo.
3. you could immediately recognize her cellulite-free bottom among 100 others, but you have never seen her face.
4. your sayings make you look like a lazybones, even if you have been to the gym today.
5. your profile feed is an endless scrolling through mirror selfies in belly-free t-shirts and super-short shorts
Fortunately there are other ways
Unmade-up faces, stretch marks, bacon rolls and cellulite – quite common in the women’s changing room or in the swimming pool. But in the polished world of Instagram, all that hardly exists. Seemingly real taboos. Fortunately, more and more influencers are emerging, who are fed up with this fake world and are instead working for more reality on Instagram.
Women like Louisa Dellert (@louisadellert), for example, who had previously succumbed to the fitness craze, even slipped into anorexia – and in the end was only one thing: unhappy. In her Instagram review, she writes: “I had a six-pack, firm breasts that had become smaller as I lost weight and well-trained legs. And what now? I felt limp, moody and lacking in some way the connection to reality. I was unhappy, cried often, was unfocused at work and had little contact with my friends.
Everything revolved only around me and my body.” Today she consciously uses Instagram and the hashtag #formore reality instagram as a platform for more self-love and satisfaction with one’s own body and against body shaming.
Just like Louisa, her Influencer colleagues Angelique Vochezer (@angeliquelini) and Svenja Sörensen (@svenjasoerensen) spread positive statements that encourage smiles – and rethinking: “These are not bacon rolls, this is external storage space for even more gut feeling”, for example. Great and honest messages that inspire many women and hopefully spread more and more – both through Instagram and in real life.
Why every woman should find herself beautiful
Friendly #fitspo: These accounts make good mood
Angelique’s motto: “Diversity is what defines us. We must be proud of this and stand by our body. Because flawless would be super boring, wouldn’t it? Radiance is what counts. And that’s what we have to show the world.”
Louisa pleads #formehrrealityinstagram. She likes sports, is interested in sustainability and shows herself just as she is: approachable and totally normal. In this way she helps many young women to gain more self-confidence and to give them a good feeling for their bodies.
For the co-founder of Greenbodycamp, fitness means: vitality, fun and power in all areas of life. In her photos Svenja sometimes shows herself without make-up with scars, bruises, bacon rolls – and always with a smile.
As far as I am concerned, I have meanwhile made friends with my belly bacon roll and call it lovingly “Speckovic”. I know I can still do so much sport, it will simply always stay. Sure, of course I could eat less chocolate. But I simply can’t and won’t do without it, because it is my personal luxury. So I bite with relish into the chocolate bar, swing my thumb over the mobile phone display and follow a few washboard belly Fitspo people.
The new fitness trends for next year
Conclusion: We should all look at everything a little more relaxed. Because a positive body feeling does not come from a well shot and in case of doubt perfectly processed selfie. It rather comes from how healthy our own body is and how balanced we feel. Because in the end, it’s like this: sport should first and foremost be fun and a good balance to everyday life. What it should not mean is stress. Because each of us already has enough stress.