body image · eating disorders · fitspiration · fitspo · thinspiration · thinspo · tumblr

Fitspo: is it really healthy?

Fitspo is a term used to describe fitness inspiration, throughout the internet it has gradually replaced thinspo. Thinspo or thinspiration is essentially using pictures of very skinny, sometimes emaciated people (usually women) in order to motivate others to get thin. Its links are with the dark world of pro anorexia websites. When people became aware of it, many of them were rightly disgusted and found it very disturbing. Then along came fitspo, an attempt to use quotes and images to inspire people to eat healthily and work out.

Widely found on websites such as tumblr, pinterest and instagram, the people who follow this see it as a healthy alternative to thinspo. But, I am not sure it’s as healthy as all these people seem to think. One quick tumblr search and it shows a bunch of pictures of women deemed ‘healthy’ yet I notice that they’re all relatively skinny and like with thinspo, a lot seem photoshopped! Many of these women seem obsessed with their ‘healthy’ diets and workout regimes. Surely this obsession is not healthy…

As I go through pages dedicated to fitspo, I notice that many insist that it’s okay to eat some cake or a piece of chocolate occasionally. This leads me to think that they really are trying to do this the healthy way. But the fact that they are encouraging people to eat what they deem healthy 90% of the time and workout almost every day does not sit right with me.

What makes me more uncomfortable is that a lot of these pages are run by people who claim that fitspo helped them recover from their eating disorder. Well, I would argue that exercising so much and eating so healthily is actually putting them in danger of perhaps just developing a different type of eating disorder – orthorexia. This is an extreme fixation with avoiding foods deemed unhealthy by the person. This whole concept of fitspo just seems very dangerous to me.

Looking at some of the food diaries that people post, along with their exercise routines, quickly highlights that these people are not consuming enough energy compared with what they are exerting. This is probably why many of the pictures are not just women with lots of muscles but actually very small women. I know that you cannot tell if someone is healthy by looking at a photo but it all seems dangerously similar to thinspo.

Basically, I want this all to stop. I want people to stop telling others what they should be eating, how often they should be working out. I want all this ‘motivating people to do this and that’ to stop. This obsession with bodies, whether it is getting thin or getting fit, has to stop. The key similarity with thinspo and fitspo is that clearly these people are striving to make themselves look good. It is not healthy to be so fixated on what you look like, everyone needs to remember that they are more than a body, so much more. Rather than using sites like tumblr to motivate others to change their bodies, we should be using them to promote self care and body love!

One thought on “Fitspo: is it really healthy?

  1. I agree with the view that most of the ‘fitspo’ pages are run by people who have ‘overcome’ an eating disorder. What worries me, having read advice given and seen this pictures posted, is that it’s a coping mechanism for one’s recovery. Often, those who partake still count calories and the number of calories burnt, which is still a form of disordered eating. At times, fitspo comes across as a means of masking the psychological battle of recovering, as the behaviours are still there and ingrained, but in a way that’s socially acceptable.

    For some, fitspo can be healthy, but I think that for most now, the line has been crossed where it can and will undoubtable have a negative implication on a person’s health.


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