Social media has changed the modern day stereotype of an attractive woman from #thinspo to #fitspo. Trends have completely transformed from flab to abs. Women in particular no longer look to unrealistic 6ft something leggy blondes on the catwalk for inspiration but to everyday people they find through social media. People are obsessed with recreating the lives of complete strangers they find on these multimedia platforms Instagram in particular. Whether it is a top they are wearing, where they eat lunch or how they managed to get a six pack followers are completely besotted. To the extent where everyday people become #instafamous purely on superficial looks alone.
Health and fitness in particular is taking over social media with floods of images of girls in sports bras drinking weight loss teas flooding news feeds globally. Some argue that our obsession with social media positively encourages women to idolize those girls who look perfect in a sports bra more than those fully clothed modelling on the catwalk.
I do not disagree with the popular statement “Strong is the new skinny” which promotes a healthy lifestyle and basic strength training rather than women starving themselves to be unhealthy skeletons. Additionally, with increasing rates of overweight and obesity I believe that these health messages are more important than ever. However, what scares me the most is the lengths that women have gone to achieve “strong” and how this is applauded and encouraged.
Has this modern day health obsession been taken to unhealthy levels? No one is to blame but ourselves, we have placed these unrealistic figures on a pedestal. No longer do girls worry about a flat stomach they now worry about how many abdominal muscles they are able to count and how many likes on Instagram they are able to achieve. Their now manly she-hulk physiques gain tens of thousands of likes and comments like ‘What do you eat?’ “How often do you workout” “Do you lift weights?” For example the Gold Coast girl pictured on the above who has a total of 63,100 Instagram followers purely based on the fact that her muscular physique is the perfect #fitspiration to women globally. Many argue that these women are unrealistic role models as many of them are photo-shopped or bodies are results of excessive supplement use and steroids.
Just two days ago health and fitness blogger Cassey Ho performed a moving social media experiment via her Facebook page. Initially, she posted a digitally altered photograph of herself (above) with the caption “Finally got my perfect body” and the link a video. The results of this social experiment are amazing with users and followers who did not watch the video both encouraging and congratulating her on her unrealistic body shape “she’s seriously starving herself and working out more, I wish I had your will power” and others negatively remarking stating that she is “still too fat”. The video she posted with the initial picture depicted how she had photo-shopped herself using the criticism and negative remarks she had received through social media platforms. The Blogilates creator wrote in response to the experiment that “no one is perfect and you should accept who you are”. She went on to reiterate that the people that women idolize on social media are unhealthy and unrealistic goals.
In the past, the media was scrutinized for its portrayal of unhealthily thin and skeletal women, models in particular but this issue has been amplified through the popularity of social media. Even the most highly regarded models ideologies have been transformed with many of the Victoria Secret models now walking down the catwalk with angel wings and a six pack! What is feminine about that? Yet these women are perceived to be perfect #fitspirations.
A further argument is why has our perception of an attractive female changed so dramatically? Traditionally, women aimed to look feminine to the extent of magnifying their curvaceous features whereas now women worldwide perceive excessive muscle tone and definition as attractive. Having a six pack has always been a well known attractive feature on men but is having a six pack and bulging biceps really that attractive on women? Why are we now idolising such manly features?
Social media has not only allowed users to positively encourage and idolize complete strangers who follow a healthy lifestyle. It also encourages a new form of unhealthy eating and exercise which could become a very large issue surrounding body image in particular in young women.
Originally published – http://www.theisthmus.com.au/2015/04/the-transformation-from-thinspo-to-fitspo/