"Exercise to be fit, not skinny": The effect of fitspiration imagery on women's body image

Body Image. 2015 Sep:15:61-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.06.003. Epub 2015 Jul 10.


Fitspiration is an online trend designed to inspire viewers towards a healthier lifestyle by promoting exercise and healthy food. The present study aimed to experimentally investigate the impact of fitspiration images on women's body image. Participants were 130 female undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to view either a set of Instagram fitspiration images or a control set of travel images presented on an iPad. Results showed that acute exposure to fitspiration images led to increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction and decreased state appearance self-esteem relative to travel images. Importantly, regression analyses showed that the effects of image type were mediated by state appearance comparison. Thus it was concluded that fitspiration can have negative unintended consequences for body image. The results offer support to general sociocultural models of media effects on body image, and extend these to "new" media.

Keywords: Body image; Fitspiration; Instagram; Media; Social networking sites.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Self Concept
  • Social Media
  • South Australia
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Thinness / psychology*
  • Women / psychology*
  • Young Adult