I’m just going to come out and say it: I have some problems with fitness accounts on Instagram.
I understand the need to be healthy and fit, but current trends twist those ideas and turn them into societal ideals shoved on women’s bodies. Many of these accounts push users to lose weight and get a bigger booty, not to eat better or become stronger. It’s all about the image on the outside, and I’ve noticed a lot of these influencers will do almost anything to keep it that way.
I love Instagram. For a copywriter, I’m a very visual person who’s a sucker for anything monochromatic, aesthetically pleasing, or just plain cute. That’s why I started following a lot of lifestyle bloggers to inspire me creatively and emotionally and to better myself overall. In this following spree, I collected a bunch of fitness accounts to motivate me to keep healthy eating and exercise in my life. I didn’t realize how much these accounts would send a spiral of self-doubt and insecurities straight towards me, though.
Many of the people I’ve found, and have even followed, have their own diet and exercise plans. The issue, though, is that they push the body they’ve created on their screen, not how they actually look. It’s confusing to me, because one minute they tell you to love your body and accept yourself, but the next, they push these “quick fix diets” and fat-burning supplements for you to get the perfect body—their body.
Detox drinks and fat-burning supplements often sponsor these type of accounts. Sure, those methods can be easy and quick ways to get the “dream body”, but they’re not exactly healthy. Athletic clothing brands like Gym Shark sponsor some of these accounts, but it seems as though some of their models are just models, not fitness enthusiasts.
Madalin Giorgetta, the woman in the video above, has 716k followers. Her bio states she’s a personal trainer, but from watching her videos, I get the impression that she doesn’t like to work out very much. There’s nothing wrong with struggling in the gym, but she seems to put up a smoke screen of a super-fit gym rat. In my opinion, she is the perfect example of using the gym to not actually gain strength and be healthy, but rather to shape her body into the “ideal body” as determined by societal standards.
It’s been proven time and time again how fitness bloggers will manipulate their bodies in photos to give them that #slimthicc look, when in reality, they look quite different. With the right angles, even someone like me with the flattest butt ever can look perfectly rounded.
The model above, Anna Victoria, is a certified personal trainer who has regularly posted photos of her natural body versus her posed body. She assures young girls that the image we see isn’t how her body looks on any given moment—she has to pose for it. It’s important and refreshing when influencers and models show how easy it is to give an illusion of an hourglass figure, proving that no body is as “perfect” as it may seem.
Unfortunately, not all accounts have the same clarity between them and their followers.
Instagram fitness model Jen Selter is filled with mixed messages. This post from Valentine’s Day shows her surrounded by pizza.
But less than two weeks earlier, she chided her followers for cheating on their diets during the Super Bowl.
I have an issue with the language she uses here. To me, there are mixed and harmful messages in these pictures. She starts out saying that “cheat” meals are okay, but then, her “tips” revolve around punishing your body for making a mistake. It’s important to have goals and remain on track, but no one should have to “make up” for eating “questionable” food.
The message I received from these posts is that you can’t achieve a body like hers by cheating or eating things like pizza, since she told her followers to make up for the cheat day. But then, she changes her message by posing with these “bad” foods. Was this a marketing ploy to get her followers to “relate” to her? (If so, she makes her lifestyle seem pretty unattainable…)
I’m sick and tired of people feeling guilty for eating, myself included. We need to do better! We need more natural-looking bodies on Instagram. I’m not talking about size; I’m talking about the 30 seconds it takes to suck in, twist, and tighten your butt to take a picture. We need to let go and stop hiding behind our insecurities. Fitness shouldn’t be about what you look like—it should be about fueling your body and staying healthy and happy.
No one should exert themselves physically and mentally just to reach an unrealistic ideal. There is a difference between being fit and healthy versus being obsessed with how you look. Making yourself feel bad is never going to make you feel good! Remember that the next time you second guess yourself while scrolling through your Instagram feed.
If you want to follow fitness accounts that share healthy and inspiring messages, here are some of my personal favorites:
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please call the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or text NEDA at 741741.