The word “thinspo” has been a popular topic of conversation on the Web lately, especially since Tumblr restricted it in their updated terms of service. Thinspo, if you’re unfamiliar, is a shortened term for “thin-inspiration” typically used to describe blogs that post photos of girls who are at best model-thin, at worst suffering from eating disorders. But what gets less attention is the seemingly “healthier” alternative to thinspo, fitspo, a term used to describe the inspirational photos for a girl to get super-fit. Does either one have benefits? Or are they equally nasty extremes perpetuated by the Internet to drive women crazy?
The dish on thinspo: Girls who are trying to lose weight appreciate having support from others. It’s nice to have someone — or an entire Web community — holding you accountable for meeting your goals, and also to congratulate you when you do. Meanwhile, the girls trying to lose weight post pictures of the bodies that they want in order to gather motivation to meet said goals.
What it’s become: At their most extreme, thinspo blogs are closely tied to “pro-ana” blogs, where the motivation falls victim to obsession. After all, anorexia and bulimia both stem from an obsessive mindset, and in that case there’s no “goal” to meet, just thinner and thinner.
The dish on fitspo: It’s designed with good intentions at heart. Many of the images circulating the Internet for fit inspiration are emblazoned with work-out mantras, encouraging us to get up off our butts and endure the pain of the workout because the results are worth it. On its most effective side it glorifies the strong-bodied and the strong-willed, promoting endurance and strength. This tumblr seems pretty innocent, for example.
What it’s become: The other side of the sword is that the same obsessive tendencies can be observed in overexercising. At worst, fitspo can be seen as a thinly veiled misnomer for thinspo, putting emphasis on body image and nearly impossible standards.
The most upsetting thing to me about either of the Internet themes is the devaluation of individuality. We don’t all look the same, and that’s for a reason. Of course, if you want to be a trainer or a professional athlete, or just love working out, the goal of putting in hours at the gym every day is great. But the sort of misery + time = finally liking myself equation is just unrealistic and upsetting, especially because many of the girls in the photos are still teenagers and haven’t even formed womanly curves yet. Both of these topics are double-edged swords, but it seems to me that these blogs might be doing more harm than good.
So is fitness just the new term the Internet is using for thinness, so that blogs don’t catch flack for being pro-ana? Or is an emphasis on fitness an improvement?
What do you think? Is one better than the other? Or are they equally unhealthy?