The Pinterest Problem
Pinterest has a problem. If you’re ever unsure about the social norms for women in their 20s and onwards, open a Pinterest account. For an encompassing snapshot of the pressures and expectations on women’s bodies, click the “Health & Fitness” boards. Grab your 2.5lb dumbbells and a 100 calorie snack bar, and let’s take a little walk through Pinterest fitness land.
That’s Not How She Got Those Glutes
Crowd sourcing has led to creative breakthroughs and ingenious ideas, but there’s times when we want the advice of trained experts and professionals, like exercise science. What’s that? You didn’t realize leg lifts and crunches were science? Behind sound fitness advice are libraries of studies conducted by people with a myriad of abbreviations behind their names. Regular athletes and consistent fitness enthusiasts eventually become their own scientists by being in tune with their bodies, but if you’re just looking to kick it up a notch, “write your own caption” Pinterest is full of misconstrued information, like this:
Captioned with “20 squats and 20 leg lifts before getting in the shower.” Guess again, Pinner. This woman lifts, and she lifts hard. She’s pulling 225lbx10 deadlifts for breakfast. Can you get there? Totally. But not by doing the fire hydrant piss move in the shower.
You’re Full of Lies, Pinner Girl
The twisted wire of social media lets us project who we wish we were, rather than who we are. Our “pins” create a story of a person we may or may not actually be, and our captions further enforce the guise. “I’m going to do these crunches every night.” “Great diet tips—I’ve been eating clean for three weeks!” And I captain a small ship of renegade riot grrls in my spare time. We have oh so many adventures.
Social media allows us to hide “failures”—but are actually the realistic waves of life. Those captions should read: “I’m going to do these crunches every night.” (Except I feel too tired by the time 10pm rolls around.) “Great diet tips—I’ve been eating clean for three weeks!” (Minus all the times I went out to bars with friends and wound up at fro yo.)
But behind the electronic screen, Pinterest has just shown us 20 women who are more “perfect” than us. They do their crunches, always. They eat right, always. Our rational brain may know the truth; our emotional confidence is destroyed by these comparisons.
The Fitspo Phenomenon
The most foreboding issue on Pinterest is the prevalence of “fitspo” and “thinspo.” (Sadly my toy of choice, Instagram, is not far behind.) Fitspo accumulates the social pressures, the misinformation, the confidence-destroying comparison, the lies of social media, and lumps it into one photograph. The most glaring omission in “fitspiration” is that the bodies are rarely in motion. The focus of the photograph is not an athletic accomplishment or feat of strength; it is a gap between a woman’s thighs, flexed abs, or a plump yet magically petite bottom. The reinforcing message is not to be proud of accomplishment and measures of health; it is to strive for a particular body form.
The Fitspo Challenge
Visualization is a proven method of motivation (remember that stuff about exercise scientists?), the problem is who and what we’re visualizing. For 30 days, replace your “fitspo” with real women athletes, their bodies in motion and in accomplishment. Before you hit the weights, check out Annie Thorisdottir in action. Getting on your bike? Beast it like Evelyn Stevens. Pick your sport, pick your woman, and let her inspire you. Stay off the “Health & Fitness” Pinterest boards; no searching for “#fitspo.” 30 days. The pressure put on your body just might disappear, and your workouts just might become a whole lot more invigorated.
 If you closely follow trends and movements in social media, these are technically intended to be two different identifiers. Thispiration stemmed from the online prevalence of eating disorder communities, and the concept of identifying particular photographs as inspirational for body goals was paralleled by the online fitness community, creating “fitspo.” In the usual way of saturation and open content, the intention of “fitspo” has arguably become diminished and the two are concurrent in the image results returned by hashtags, boards, and searches. It is not uncommon to see a photograph intended to promote “healthy” motivation tagged as both “fitspo” and “thinspo.”
This entry was posted on January 30, 2013 by shevolutionfitness. It was filed under Uncategorized and was tagged with Commentary, Fitspo, health, Social Media, Thinspiration, Thinspo, weight loss, women's fitness, women's health, workout.