Fitspiration Photos and Quotes: Effects on Body Image in University Women
Fitspiration refers to a type of social media that aims to inspire people to exercise using photos and/or quotes. However, while evidence suggests it can lead to increased exercise motivation, it has also been shown to have a negative effect on body image and mood. The purpose of this study was to investigate which component of Fitspiration messages (photos and/or quotes) causes a negative effect on body image and mood and to investigate if this content has an inspiring effect on related health behaviours. A total of 145 women aged 18-29 years were randomly assigned to view one of four Instagram accounts: Fitspiration photos, Fitspiration quotes, a combination of photos and quotes, or travel images (control condition). They completed pre and post-measures of body image and mood (i.e., body satisfaction, self-objectification, body appreciation and negative mood) as well as a measure of inspiration to exercise, eat healthy, and travel after viewing the account. Results of a series of ANCOVAs showed that women in the image-only condition reported lower body appreciation and higher negative mood compared to women in the travel condition. Further, women in the combination condition reported higher self-objectification and lower body satisfaction compared to those in the control condition. Women in the image group also reported greater inspiration to exercise than those in the travel group and greater inspiration to eat healthy than those in both the travel and quote groups. These results suggest that, in general, viewing Fitspiration images (either alone or with a quote) is associated with poorer body image and mood in young adult women, although it did lead to greater inspiration to engage in health behaviours. Given that social media, and Fitspiration in particular, is growing in popularity, it is important to develop protective measures, such as social media literacy programs, to reduce their negative impact.