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Using Social Media to Inspire Others

This blog will consist of three blogposts.

The first one will be about the fitness profiles of Instagram and how users of Instagram love to follow these profiles to find motivation and be inspired to do something good for their appearance.

The second post will be about the unfortunate outcome these fitness profiles sometimes have and why these profiles sometimes make the followers lose hope and give up on becoming fit.

The third and last post will be about all the brave people out there who will show their imperfections to make everyone who is not picture perfect feel better about themselves.

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Mermaid thighs and tiger stripes

As a backlash to all the fitness accounts on Instagram only portraying extremely fit models more and more private users have posted pictures of themselves that does not show them from their best angle. More and more users post pictures of what they naturally look like and not how Instagram and society want them to look like.

 

A lot of hashtags have been invented for the purpose of restoring self-esteem for everyone on social media, not only overweight individuals but also persons of normal weight. One of them is #effyourbeautystandards and are showing all kind of flaws according to the general idea of what beauty looks like. There are pictures of big thighs, stomachs without visible abs and loose skin on arms mainly on women but a few men have stepped into the revolution as well.

This is probably the first year ever that I'm debating getting more swimsuits for summer. Lately the weather in the UK has been getting warmer, and instead of hiding in my room or wearing layers upon layers, I'm getting pumped to go to the beach this summer. I want to go sunbathing, build sand castles and play in the ocean without a care. I think the last time I did anything similar was my dads 60th birthday nearly 3 years ago and even then I was covered up with only my shoulders and arms on show. Now I'm debating going to a beach just to show off and give myself a chance to wear a bikini outside, or actually just give me a reason to buy a bikini. I'm happier with my tummy, my legs and all of me lately, and the last time that happened was when I didn't even know I was overweight or plus size (Spoiler: That was when my age was in the single digits). I really want this summer to let me body see the sun, and not just remain a pale colour that seems to glow when the light hits it. So, I created a mini post to show off some of the latest swimsuits that I'm eyeing up, click the link on my bio to see which. Also, it didn't feel right to post about swimsuits without showing my current one, I still adore it, it gives me such 50s/pin up style vibes. #effyourbeautystandards #effyourbodystandards #makeyourownsparkle #gloriousbabes #beautyoverstandards #purebodylove #plussize #plusisequal #allbodiesaregoodbodies #celebratemysize #goldenconfidence #fullfigured #blogger #psblogger #bigandblunt #curvy #thick #swimwear #mermaidthighs

A post shared by Alex (@ladyemathea) on

Photo by @ladyemathea on Instagram, containing #effyourbeautystandards including other bodypositive hashtags. 

 

Not only people with flaws are posting pictures that show their true self. Fitness models have joined, too. They are showing their bodies when they are not posing for a shot and reveal that there is no such thing as perfection.

Sometimes I look like the pic on the left, sometimes times I look like the pic on the right. – I don't always have abs or look lean and I'm never "perfect". . So many people are aiming for this idea of "perfection"… but what exactly is perfection? I used to beat myself up for not being perfect (whatever that is). I'd actually feel like my "worth" was less if I didn't look a certain way. My goal at one stage was to get rid of my belly fat so that when I sat I'd have no "rolls" – now I see how ridiculous and superficial I was being. Yes there's no denying, I like to look good, as most people do but it's not healthy when it becomes an obsession and your "self worth" is attached to your appearance. . I've just returned from being overseas for a month. I ate what I wanted and enjoyed it, I also gained a bit of extra body fat which isn't a big deal because my lifestyle nowadays isn't about restricting myself & I like it that way. 😝#noregrets . Life isn't perfect and neither are we. I love myself no matter how I look and it's this self love that motivates me to make changes in my life so I can feel my best… like exercising and eating nutritious food (& treats for mental health hehe). 😝 . I was once sitting at a fitness shoot and was told by someone (while pointing at my belly) "Fitness models don't have belly rolls when they sit" – I was so upset about this & felt so inadequate and this only led to me being more obsessed with being "perfect" or as "lean" as I could be. Nowadays I know better. My priority is how I feel mentally and physically and I won't sacrifice that to look a certain way OR to get the approval from anyone else! . Please consider what goes into a photograph you see online or in magazines… and also what goes into looking a certain way, for example; posing, angles, lighting & even photoshopping! A lot of what we see in these images is not "healthy" or "realistic" and comparing ourselves will never do us any good. Focus on your health – mental and physical and focus on being YOUR best. . #perfectnever .

A post shared by E M I L Y S K Y E (@emilyskyefit) on

Photo by @emilyskyefit on Instagram, showing how a model body can look off set.

 

The fact that it is not only average and overweight infamous people showing their unedited selves but also fitness models like Australia’s Emily Skye, is helping the users of Instagram not feeling wrong or lose self confidence. It is creating a positive environment and is making Instagram a safe place to post selfies even though you might not fit the general society’s beauty standards.

Furthermore there are women on Instagram who remind other users that the fitness lifestyle and strive towards perfection does not equals happiness. Women who have lived with so strict rules regarding training and their diet, that they were forced to cut out their social life.

BEFORE: I would go to sleep in my gym gear so when I woke at 5am I had no 'excuses' not to train. I didn't know what my purpose was. I had to nap in the meeting room at work to make it through the day. I had no libido, cried when I looked in the mirror, couldn't go out to eat with friends because #mealprep and my brain had 100 tabs open all at once constantly. AFTER: I wake whenever I want, feeling inspired and excited for the day ahead. My body glows with REAL health, the health that abs and having a low fat percentage doesn't necessarily give you. I feel sexy and confident and look in the mirror with joy. Eating with friends is my favourite thing to do. I start each day in meditation and my purpose is to help other people love themselves and live their best lives 🙏 When you look in the mirror and don't like what you see, chances are it has NOTHING to do with your body. The minute you decide to start loving yourself regardless of what you look like, is the minute your life changes for the better in every way. You have it in you beautiful – if I can do it, so can you ❤❤❤

A post shared by Hollie Azzopardi 🌿 (@hollie_azzopardi) on

Photo by @hollie_azzopardi on Instagram, telling how she is happier without excessive fitness routines. 

 

Another hashtag that has taken Instagram by storm is #mermaidthighs that is a direct backlash to another popular hastag, #thighgap. The thigh gap trend was celebrating thin women’s skinny legs, and leaving a lot of body types out. The mermaid thighs trend on the other hand celebrates a larger amount of body types and acknowledges that there are women with thigh gaps and they are beautiful as well.

 

Some other natural things, which have been shamed by the beauty standards, are tiger stripes, better known as stretch marks and cellulite. More and more women draw attention to how natural it is and that there are several reasons why stretch marks and cellulite appear on our bodies. Many mention that stretch marks are just a sign that our body has grown. Not just grown but grown into something bigger and better.

💕Cellulite is not the enemy. Hateful people on the internet are not the enemy. Even people and companies who claim to promote positivity and yet post images that are photoshopped to within an inch of reality, they too, are not the enemy. . . 💕The enemy is negativity within each of us that tells us we have to be something inauthentic in order to be: healthy, happy, successful, desirable, worthy, etc. . . 💕If you can see this internal dialog as a battle and not an inevitable failure, you've already won. All you need is ONE questioning thought (maybe this is normal, maybe I'm ok?) and you've already started the process. And the beginning of any journey is always the hardest part. #cellulitesaturday @omgkenzieee @_____halle__ 🌸🌺🌹🌷🌹🌺🌸 photo @shayparesh

A post shared by Curve Model | Musician (@meararose) on

Photo by @meararose on Instagram, saying “Cellulite is not the enemy”. 

All the new trends on Instagram are celebrating diversity, which was missing from Instagram in the past.

Picture Perfect

Even though the fitness profiles of Instagram are there to help other users stay motivated, they can have the opposite result.

All the pictures of tanned, fit and young bodies can unintended result in low self esteem for average people. Even those who actually care about nutrition and training can end up with low self esteem, because they only focus on the 1%, who are the fittest and have the best poses on all of their Instagram posts. The brain simply chooses to focus on the absolute elite and thereby “forget” the posts of those you actually can compare yourself with (menshealth; Instagram self esteem).

Many teenagers and young adults feel a pressure to look amazing on social media like Instagram, and afterwards in person as well because they do not want to appear completely different than on social media. The pressure to look stunning on Instagram is originated from to places.

One part of the pressure comes from other users’ posts on Instagram. Every Instagram user is constantly confronted with others’ beautiful pictures. These pictures could for example show a phenomenal journey from being overweight to a fit body.

Tonights shout out goes to the beautiful Amber Marie and her success with our nutrition system. We are changing lives left 👈🏼 and right 👉🏼 and that's what gets me fired up every single day!!! ⠀ How motivated are you to crush some goals???⠀ …………………………………………………………..⠀ Amber shared: ⠀ "💕🤗💪🏼I'm so excited 💪🏼🤗💕⠀ I have absolutely fallen in love with these products, this community, and most importantly, with myself again. ⠀ The first picture is January 23, 2017. I don't look happy, because I'm not. The second picture is today! I look happy because I truly feel joy and love inside. ❤"⠀ #wellnesswednesday⠀ #nutrition⠀ #results⠀ #gamechanger⠀ #nutritionalcleansing ⠀ #bestlifenow #teamdeclare #transformation #motivation #gym #fitspo #fitfam #weightloss #lifestyle #instagood #gymlife #progress #health #fitnessmotivation #success #goals #fitlife #dedication #weightlossjourney #noexcuses #inspiration #healthy

A post shared by ✨ Regina ✨ (@thereglaw) on

Photo posted by @thereglaw on Instagram

When you, as a user on Instagram, are constantly confronted with pictures like these, it becomes the norm. It becomes the standard that every user tries to live up to what is posted.

When you take 20-50 pictures of the same motive, edit the best shot and post it, another pressure appears. For many, Instagram is not only for posting great photos. It is about posting pictures so great, they will get a massive amount of likes. Some users care so much about likes, that they will take down the picture again, if it does not get a certain amount of likes. Some users think that a small amount of likes equals that they are not pretty enough, thin enough – amazing enough to post on Instagram. This creates low self esteem and uncertainty about oneself (The Guardian; Instagram young women self esteem).

This extra self-awareness Instagram can create, can result in a very negative self image. When you always compare yourself with the best of the best others post, you are more likely to lose hope, and that extra roll on the stomach suddenly becomes a much bigger problem than it ever was. As an Instagram user you risk to get a self image, that are misleading because you are exposed to these perfect bodies all the time. You forget that these people are not living mannequins, who walk around being picture perfect all the time. You forget that they talk at least as many pictures to get the perfect shot, as you do yourself (Elle; How Instagram is ruining our self esteem).

People, who are overweight, can easily get the feeling of not belonging or not looking right if they use Instagram. Very few Instagram profiles show average bodies. Very close to none show overweight bodies. Instagram is filled to the edge with fit bodies.

Is there an overweight, who is brave enough to post a body picture, it is more the rule than the exception that they get body shamed. The comments could be “How can this person be happy with themself while looking like that?” and some users are even of the believe that it is completely accepted to comment degrading comments “because they choose themselfs to be overweight”. Apparently there are no space for diversity on Instagram.

Photo posted by @conversationswithstupidmen on Instagram

A healthier life with Instagram

Instagram is a media that is diligently used by fitness promoters, who want to motivate and inspire others to start their own fitness journey.

These fitness accounts often post pictures of beautiful fit men and women to make their followers visualise how they want their body to end up looking. The fitness accounts want to inspire their followers to continue the battle it sometimes can be to get fit.

Relationship goals! 😍 Featuring: @selenapolefit

A post shared by Fitness Models 🌍 (@fitness_models) on

Photo: @fitness_models on Instagram

 

Before and after photos is one of the biggest trends on these fitness accounts. They give hope for those who still have a long way to go and makes the ones who are well on their way confidence. The before and after pictures create an illusion that everyone can make it if they are only persistent enough. Beneath most of these before and after pictures are the most incredible stories of how this person has translated and how hard they have fought to get where they are today. These stories often end with a short but precise message: “RESPECT!”

The comments usually follows suit and many comments only consist of one word: “RESPECT!” Some makes an extra effort and writes something like “Way to go! Respect!”

@hashi88 I have always been overweight since childhood. Even through high school I struggled with my weight and had self image issues. During my first year of university I tried to change my eating habits to lose weight but had less or no motivation at all. With the stresses of university I ate really bad and continued to struggle with my weight. I have always wanted to dress nicely and have the curves to show off, but because of my overweight body it seemed a dream.Then one day a friend upload a group photo with me in it on Facebook , and I got really bad comments on my figure and how overweight I was. I was devastated and had a emotional breakdown. After that I decided to fully commit to losing the weight, so started eating healthy and going to the gym 6 days a week. After 10 months of fully committed to the diet and training, I lost 42 kgs. This change in my body further motivated me to keep going.I started to dress nicely and loved to show my new curves. This added further to my motivation. I trained harder and became stronger and fitter. My ultimate motivation is the results I see within myself and that itself is my inspiration. @hashi88 gwl . . Follow @great_weightloss_inspirations for inspiring stories, tips, humor and a possible feature💞 . . Tag someone, share and motivate!

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Photo: @great_weightloss_inspirations on Instagram

 

To help the followers progress the fitness accounts also post workout videos with the purpose of inspire the followers to try new and possibly more effective exercises they will be able to add to their daily routine.

It is these workout videos that will keep the followers on the account. The pictures of fit strangers are not enough to keep the inspiration and motivation up. When the follower already had had the “wow!”-experience and has started their journey towards the perfect body they have already build up a picture of how they want to look like. That is why the workout videos are perfect to keep followers to actually follow. They show new ways of reaching your goal and that is what you want.

Tag your workout partner 👯 credit: @j.crvz @tayackerman @alainahoolihan

A post shared by Alexa (@fitness_junkie) on

Video: @fitness_junkie on Instagram

 

All of this online attention towards health and training has created a health spiral that has made more and more people aware of their physical appearance all over the globe. People who have never thought of exercise and nutrition before are suddenly very aware of what they do for their body.

The successful fitness accounts have made it more acceptable to be proud of your body and show your progress for the world to see. There are so many people out there showing their well-trained bodies and they should! Getting fit and keeping it that way is an accomplishment that is worth celebrating! It brings along a lot of positive attention and the respect we all crave from strangers on social media like Instagram.

 

The fitness accounts help people get in better shape by motivating normal people trough pictures of others’ process and ideas for hoe to make your daily exercise routines even more effective.

 

Here are some links to articles with suggestions of which Instagram accounts you can follow if you want to be motivated to build yourself a healthier lifestyle.

Greatist

DailyBurn

Cosmopolitan

Please write a comment underneath if you have any experience with following and being inspired or motivated by the fitness accounts of Instagram or if you have any suggestions on accounts that are a must follow!