Thinspo vs Fitspo: the motivation of eating disorders?

Following a rather short, but punchy (not physically) discussion via Facebook with some friends, it seems apt that I discuss the rather highly disputed subject which has been tumbling with speed through the internet, reaching those who wish to change their appearance/lifestyle/weight- ‘thinspiration’ and ‘fitspiration’.

Now, the topic of eating disorders, unhealthy obsessions with food (or lack of), and even more unhealthy lifestyles, often revolving around starving oneself, has been tossed through social media and culture, not to mention news channels and websites like there’s no tomorrow.
The subject of self-image and confidence has been one of much contention between different sides of the discussion.

For those who need a little filling in, here’s some definitions for you (C/O Urban Dictionary…)


Thin + inspiration. The inspiration people have to become ‘thin’ or more often ‘skinny’- usually images of skinny and sometimes emaciated people. Often related to something which sufferers of anorexia and bulimia use.

1) 6 stone Victoria Beckham is thinspiration.

This is 'thinspo'...

This is ‘thinspo’…

and this...

and this…

and this...

and this…

and this.

and this.


Fit + inspiration. A healthier alternative to thinspiration, fitspiration is using examples of good fitness (people, photographs, skinny jeans, etc) as inspiration to attain a fitness goal. For example:

1) My friend started running marathons last July and she is in such good shape now. She’s totally my fitspiration.

2) My ass looks epic in these skinny jeans. They give me the fitspiration I need to keep going to the gym every day.

And this is 'fitspiration'...

And this is ‘fitspiration’…

and so is this...

and so is this…

and this...

and this…

and this.

and this.

It is a very tricky argument, and it depends on who you are, what motivates you, where you want to be regarding your self-image. I mean, personally, I’ve got a point where I know what is healthy, and I know that not eating won’t help me lose weight, not in a sustainable way anyhow.

I know that I don’t want to (and probably can’t) be a size 6. Or weigh 6 stone for that matter. I know that a healthy person eats fruit and veg, drinks water, exercises on a regular basis, and doesn’t binge on alcohol or smoke. Everybody knows these simple facts. It’s globally acknowledged, and I am not denying the fact.

I personally feel there is a huge different between these. Thinspirational images scream STOP EATING AT ALL COSTS in order to change your body to your desired appearance. For me, any how. Fitspirational messages are SOMEBODY BUSIER THAN YOU IS RUNNING NOW. YOU’RE NEVER TOO BUSY, or something along those lines. 

I’m not easily motivated. I like to see images of people working out, trying hard and getting to their fit and healthy goals, whether at the gym or in another sport. It makes me want to achieve the very most I can. I think it’s admirable to, day in and day out, physically try so hard for an ideal you want…

The general negative feelings towards both these (but mainly thinspiration) is the message it sends that it’s good to not eat and get ultra skinny for acceptance like famous ‘attractive’ celebrities. They promote an unhealthily thin lifestyle, which revolves around little food; an unobtainable body goal.

That doesn’t mean to say that girls don’t over exercise and use it as a tool to get skinny, but as long as you’re healthy, following the correct guidelines and advice, and feeling comfortable in your own skin, isn’t that OK?

Fitspiration encourages me...

Fitspiration encourages me…

This conversation has so many sides, so many points to be made, and so many arguments to be had, but I just thought I’d put my take on it out there. People will undoubtedly disagree, but I think that being thin and being fit are two totally different things- they don’t have to run in to each other, although they often do. I’m physically fit- I go to the gym most days, but I wouldn’t say I’m thin. Definitely not. Not like these ‘thinspiration’ girls anyway.

This isn’t a case of let’s pick on the skinny girl coz she’s too thin. I mean, they get that enough. But when we call a big girl fat, there’s an uproar. It’s very unequal, and often seems skinnier girls get the bad deal when it comes to comments about weight.

But at the end of the day, being too skinny is unhealthy. So is being too fat. What about, healthspiration in the near future?


One thought on “Thinspo vs Fitspo: the motivation of eating disorders?

  1. I was looking up “fitspo” on Twitter and I stumbled onto this post. I think you make some good points here, and the post made me think about how I feel about this.

    I think “fitspo” can be a tool when you need it, but when over used, it’s not good. I say that because I think placing too much focus on something like “fitspo” that promotes looking a certain way, or working out really hard, is mentally unhealthy. It can take away from the other facets of life, like socializing, reading, work, and hobbies.

    Being fit is great as far as eating clean food to properly fuel the body and exercising to burn extra calories that a nutritious diet inevitably provides, as well as getting various organs and body systems moving. The social rewards of being fit often come from perceived genetic fitness (big boobs, wide hips, symmetrical face, dainty features), and societal stereotypes of who a thin, tanned person is and is not (not just what they look like).

    For example, I find fat people are often perceived as lazy, but this is a stereotype. There are healthy overweight people. And unhealthy regular-weight people. Health is a synergy of too many things to break down to a person’s weight, solely.

    What I dislike about thinspo, and some fitspo, aside from the specific body image and unhealthy lifestyle being promoted, is the strict, measurable, paradigm of success or failure that it encourages people to live within. It’s really fear driven and not at all focused on happiness. Fitspo, good fitspo, is not like that. It encourages good habits more so than results and “success.” The “results” are just a side effect of good living.

    Thanks for the post! 🙂

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