Instagram is one of the most popular forms of social media today, not just because of the awesome pictures, but because of the “community” — it’s sort of like YouTube, except you create your own world online in the form of pictures.
Instagram gets a good rep partially because it seems like a great form of spreading healthy and supportive messages. This is because of the “health and fitness” trend that seems to have taken over Instagram — the community called “FitFam.” While many of these pages seem supportive of healthy behaviors and lifestyles, you have to ask yourself: Does scrolling through thousands of images daily of “fitness enthusiasts,” “healthy eaters,” “raw-vegans,” and fitness models actually inspire health, or does it just perpetuate eating disorders and body image issues?
Hashtags such as #FitnessFriday and #TransformationTuesday appear like clockwork on Instagram feeds, causing speculation over whether Instagram is just another platform social media uses to make people feel bad about themselves, to make people want to change themselves, and to sell a myriad of products in the name of the “healthy lifestyle.”
Instagram images may, in fact, inspire many people to live healthier lives, to exercise, and to eat fruit. However, many of the images have the opposite effect. Even though “fit is the new thin” is a healthier slogan than anything having to do with thigh gaps, it still shows girls unattainable examples of perfect leanness and muscular physiques (as well as plenty of legs sans cellulite).
I love Instagram. I think it’s great for looking at beautiful fall pictures, adorable puppies, and other mood boosters. It is also a great way to connect with people, see the world, and peer into the lives of others. However, these “health” communities and “fitness inspirations” create an entirely different focus. If we want to stop the harmful messages of media and the creation of more anxious and self-deprecating women, we have to start somewhere where we have control — for example, Instagram.
My advice? Don’t post messages or images that may make others feel bad. Even posts with good intentions can sometimes be hurtful to others. While inspiration is great, a community promoting big butts and tips on how to “achieve” them just adds to the ever-present sphere of messages saying, “You are not good enough, and here’s how to change if you want to be ‘perfect.’”
To change this, we have to step up, stop supporting these media techniques, and really focus on finding the happiness within and around us.
Kinga Vasicsek was born in Hungary and has lived in the Bay Area since age 10. She is a currently in college studying Political Science and Communications. She is an actress and also spends much of her free time writing.