For decades, women have been told to be skinny. Eat this, not that. Anorexia went through the roof during the 1990s, but more recently, this attitude toward being skinny has shifted. Women have begun fighting back, and they have become more accepting of their bodies, or so we think. Women understand they don’t need to be skinny. Instead, the whole cycle is starting over again, except this time there is a different target appearance: being muscular and, well, “fit”.
Being healthy is great, but what happened to whole love-your-body-no-matter-what parade? Instead of embracing bodies for the way they are, women are falling to a new trend called “Fitspo”, short for “Fitsporation”, where women aim for a muscular body. The newly coined term, according to Urban Dictionary, consists of “images of active, strong and fit women that promote proper exercise and diet. May also include images of healthy foods much like thinspo (images of dangerously thin women used by people with eating disorders to motivate) but healthier.”
Fitspo is a form of weight loss and weight control, which mean those who rely on Fitspo for “Fitsporation” are doing it to permanently change their bodies. Fitspo appears all over social media, including Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. Often the “ideal body” is depicted featuring extremely fit bodies and many “success stories” of before and after pictures. Most of the images feature women posed in bathing suits or lingerie, baring their flat stomachs and toned arms to influence others to “keep at it.”
According to a poll conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, 46 percent of those surveyed said they believe they are at least a little overweight. In addition, 91 percent of college women have attempted to control their weight via dieting, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).
Junior Taylor Trahan agrees with these numbers and feels like a lot of women try to alter their body image.
“I’m not really surprised because I feel like all college girls are uncomfortable with their weight and lot of people have some kind of eating disorder whether they’re evident or not,” Trahan said.
Women who follow the Fitspo trend eat specific foods and watch their exercise but this, in many ways, is a form of weight control. Even though this is deemed healthy, any strict control of one’s diet or exercise raises a red flag.
“A lot of people don’t eat enough on purpose just to keep their weight down,” Trahan said.
Eating disorders are also associated with exercise addiction. Since there is no stigma attached with exercising often, most people overlook this behavior and see it as a positive, according to Psychology Today.
“Many people with eating disorders find their exercise helps them control negative emotions like depression and anxiety, that they feel guilty or anxious if they don’t exercise, and that they experience withdrawal if they don’t exercise,” the website states.
Fitspo, for some people, might be an encouragement to continue with unhealthy habits such as excessive exercise. This especially becomes a problem if the individual puts exercise before anything else including school, work and friends, Psychology Today says.
Fitsporation and Thinspiration are quite similar in many ways since both aim to help people reach their target weight or target appearance.
“I think if it’s encouraging people to be fit and healthy, I think it’s good,” Trahan said. “But if it wants you to be addicted to exercise and not allowing you to eat one cookie, then that’s not a good thing.”