Warning: This post contains thinspo/fitspo images and fat hate statements.
Thinspiration or thinspo is images of skinny women collected or posted to motivate oneself or others to lose weight. It is strongly associated with eating disorders and specifically with groups and people who promote eating disorders. The images feature thigh gaps and visible hip and collarbones.
I did a quick Pinterest search for some examples:
Thinspo images often accompany details of diet plans which involve eating a certain amount of calories per day in a certain order.
People who support and encourage eating disorders have come under a lot of scrutiny online. Pinterest agreed to remove images that actively promote harm, although I don’t know the specifics of their criteria for removing an image.
When I searched Pinterest for “thinspo”, I got a warning at the top of my search page, telling me, “Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening,” and referring me to treatment and support options.
On the other hand, fitness is becoming more and more popular to rally around online. I have seen the slogan, “Fit is the new skinny,” apparently meant to highlight that thinness isn’t the goal.
Fitspiration or fitspo is images of skinny women collected or posted to motivate oneself or others to “get fit”. These images feature things like people in workout clothes, visible ab muscles, sweat, and motivational statements.
When I searched Pinterest for “fitspo” I was not warned about the dangers of eating disorders. I was treated to search results like these:
Fitspo images often accompany details of workout plans that involve specific exercises to be done a certain number of times in a certain order.
People who are interested in fitness and fitspo would probably cringe to be lumped in with the people who are sad if they net more than 300 calories a day.
When you scratch the surface of the fitspo images, you can find the fat-hate lurking nearby.
While the text in these examples reveal the demonization of weight and fat, no extra text is needed to reveal that fitspo is the same fetishization of thinness that thinspo is.
All you have to do is look at the body types shown.
They are invariably very thin.
Fat and Fit
If your inspiration was truly fitness, it would be acceptable to show a variety of fit bodies.
For example, these images are ALSO of athletic, very fit people:
If you cannot look at these women and be inspired in your fitness, then you aren’t looking for fitness inspiration.
If you can only look at one thin exact body type for your inspiration, then what you’re seeking is that body.
It’s disingenuous to try to dress up your thinspiration as having anything to do with fitness.
And frankly, it’s fat-hate.
When the fitspo images don’t include varying body types, they say, quite definitively, “Thin is fit. Thin is healthy. Nothing else is.”
That idea hurts fat people.
If you are seeking weight-loss inspiration, I challenge you to broaden your view of what an acceptable body looks like, both for yourself and for the people around you.
If you are seeking fitness inspiration, I encourage you to find your inspiration in the wide variety of athletes who excel at their activities.
Comment reminder: There is nothing wrong with the bodies of any of the people in this post. This post is about dressing up thin-worship as a pursuit of fitness. It is not about the bodies of particular women, what they eat, or how much they do or do not exercise. No comments will be allowed that insult anyone’s body or that compare their worth to other people’s bodies.
Want to read something about being healthy and pursuing greater health without obsessing over your size or the number on the scale? Enter Linda Bacon, a pioneer in research that challenges the anti-fat status quo. Health At Every Size uses scientific research to point you towards a more intuitive relationship with food and movement. It’s possible to improve your health and your self-esteem without trying to make yourself smaller. Health At Every Size is kind of revolutionary while also being utterly simple.