For some time now, particularly in Anglo-Saxon countries, Instagram has been copiously circulating a series of selfies and videos of bodies of perfect young fit women (often personal trainers), during their physical training, accompanied by inspiring self-motivating phrases and hashtagged #fitspiration or #fitspo. We’re talking about 50 million posts in a year, certainly not a niche phenomenon. The intention was clear: to motivate followers to exercise, eat well and take care of their body (and – perhaps – buy a training plan/dietary products/clothing).
With time, however, it turned out through (also thanks to some researches conducted by psychologists specialized in the study of sentiment of social media that these images, as opposed to other under hashtags such as #ThisGirlCanUk or #JoinTheMoviment, were not motivational, on the contrary, they generated in those who watched them a sense of strong dissatisfaction of their bodies, linked to eating disorders, anxiety and depression.
From the Nextatlas algorithm emerges how #fitspo images have a marked seasonality (autumn/winter) and that after all they are actually proposed with lightness and without that dramatic experience mentioned above. It often happens that the images have more emphasis on the sexy and erotic dimension than anything else. At the same time, analyzing the target, we can see that the theme of fitness is more relevant than health (and is also ideal selfiests and digital narcissists).
Given all these different interpretations of the #fitspo world, many industry brands prefer not to venture into adopting these references for fear of some repercussion or controversy from their community, especially in the world of health & wellness.
On the contrary, those brands that especially target the anxious and insecure Generation Z adopt messages and images that help cope with serenity with diversity and physical defects, in line with the generational approach that sees social media as a privileged means to remind oneself – in public – how to deal with their anxieties and shared problems. Nextatlas has been monitoring this trend for several years through the “Notes to self” trend. Also in this case, brands use quotations and aphorisms, but in completely different terms.