It used to be that photoshopped, slimmed, and altered photos belonged only to the world of fashion models – and the billboards and magazines that housed them. However, in the age of the Internet, and especially its trendy buddy, Instagram, everyone has photo altering and reality deceiving tools at the tips of their fingertips. And did I mention it’s free? Yup, “perfecting your body” has never been cheaper or more accessible, and trust me, this isn’t a good thing.
Instagram, then, becomes particularly problematic because it encourages its users to filter and morph their photos into more desirable versions. Enter the rise of fitspos, short for “fitspiration”, a term that originally was meant to encourage others to live healthy and balanced lifestyles. Recently, the word has been reappropriated and reassigned to dangerously thin, diet-crazed individuals on Instagram with the implied message “and your body can look like this too if you work out and eat healthy” when in fact, these photos have way more to do with filters, photoshop, and angles than a healthy lifestyle. The effect? Millions of women see these images and their self-esteem plummets. But your body image doesn’t have to suffer anymore. In these 5 cases, it’s time to hit “unfollow” on that Instagram fitspo.
1) When you find yourself constantly making body comparisons to this Instagrammer
A photo of his or her shredded six pack pops up on your feed, and you forget all about posing, lighting, retouching, and filters because all you can think about is “Why don’t my abs look like that?” Stop. There’s nothing wrong with someone else celebrating and showing his or her amazing body, but if it’s causing you to feel inferior about yours – there’s nothing wrong with you unfollowing either.
2). When you start to feel guilty for skipping a workout after seeing this Instagrammer’s posts
There are some people on the ‘gram that motivate you to do your best, honor your body, and exercise in ways that make you feel great. There are also some that take “No excuses” as a personal challenge and want to make sure everyone else knows it. While slogans like “No excuses”, “Just do it”, and the like may be motivating for some people, they reinforce dangerous habits that contribute to exercise addiction for others.
3). When this Instagrammer starts getting paid to promote weight loss products
Nothing makes me lose respect for someone quicker than seeing them sell out on Instagram. It’s one thing to partner with a company whose products you love and would love to see others benefit from, but when that product is a skinny teatox or waist trainer – I call shenanigans! Not only are these types of cheesy, sponsored posts annoying – they’re in complete contradiction with a healthy (and happy!) lifestyle.
4). When you feel significantly worse about yourself after seeing this Instagrammer’s post than you felt before
It doesn’t have to be an ab selfie, “no excuses” mantra, or even a shudder-worthy sponsored post. If anything that this user posts has you feeling crummy about yourself, remove it from your life. The goal is to build self-love, not find more reasons to resist it.
5). When you admire the Instagrammer as a person (his or her character, attitude, etc) but know that your mental health would benefit from removing his or her posts from your line of vision
Learn to prioritize your mental health. And if you feel uncomfortable unfollowing people whom you have formed relationships with, simply send them a DM to explain.
Hey (insert username here)!
I know this might sound a bit weird, but I have to unfollow you for a little while. Don’t get me wrong, I love what you’re about and our interactions on Instagram but some of your posts cause me to compare our bodies, and I am really working on positive body image and self-love. You didn’t do anything wrong, I just need to focus on my mental health right now. Sending you lots of love and warm wishes
(Insert your username here)
Have fun on Instagram and keep the reality in mind. Filters can be fun, but your body was not made to be perfect, it was built to keep you safe and allow you to move through the world happily. Never be afraid to hit unfollow on anyone who makes you doubt that!
Cayanne Marcus helps women become happy, confident, and comfortable in their own skin. Her blog, Healthyezsweet Life provides valuable resources on overcoming pressures of the beauty ideal, investing in self care, and finding body peace. Her mission: to strengthen the sense of self love in readers everywhere.