When Does “Fitspo” Become “Thinspo”?

“Thinspo” stands for “thinspiration” and is a commonly tagged word on Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social media sites. Thinspiration posts are designed to promote the idea that thinness is desirable, and that it must be pursued relentlessly regardless of consequence. Thinspo has become a contentious tag in social media contexts, and several sites are banning content associating itself with the thinspo label.

YAY! Huzzah! Let’s get this unhealthy, body-hating term out of Internet-Land, far away from our sensitive ears!

Unfortunately, there are always work-arounds.

On Pinterest, what I would previously see tagged under “thinspo” I am now seeing tagged under a new term: “fitspo”.

Fitsperation.

Upon initial contemplation, I loved this idea. Let’s make it NOT about body type. Let’s shift the conversation over towards a healthy lifestyle! Activity! Movement! Self-love! However, if you search for “fitspo”, you will be disappointed.

Now, I consider myself somewhat of a Pinterest maven, and The Fat Word Pinterest board is a repository of such body-negativity propaganda.

Initial rage thoughts:

  • Losing weight should NOT be tantamount to addiction. The idea minimizes the struggle of actual addicts while promoting the idea that losing weight is something so desirable that once you start, you need an intervention to stop. If it is actually an addiction, it’s called anorexia. Or bulimia. Or disordered eating. Or activity disorder. Not exactly inspirational cat-poster stuff.
  • Speaking of fluffy cat -posters, Ryan Gosling might be a little miffed that his image is being used to make people feel bad about themselves.
  • Writing letters to your fat gives it agency. No longer do you view it as part of you, but an enemy to fight. In reality, you’re just fighting yourself.
  • Society wants you to think that “you’ll still be uglier than you want to be in a few months, but if you keep self-hatin’, soon you’ll be even LESS ugly than you are now!”
  • Hotness does not equal fitness, especially when it’s measured primarily against other women.
  • I wear skinny jeans. And mini-skirts. I have crop-tops and short shorts. I almost exclusively wear bikinis. I get cat-called. I have fun. I am a confident, happy, healthy, satisfied person.

I need a mental antacid.

There is another key term out in Social Media Land, called “fatspo” — fatspiration. Not that the “fat body type” is necessarily something to work towards or cultivate, but that we can be fat, fit, happy, and beautiful.

That’s more like it. That’s what inspiration is supposed to feel like.


UPDATE

We have been receiving a lot of feedback on this article. Check out our responses!

14 thoughts on “When Does “Fitspo” Become “Thinspo”?

  1. I don’t find the bottom pictures inspirational because I know what all that chub rub feels like! Walking away with confidence is hard when your thighs are chafing together and burning. You can delude yourself all you want, but being that heavy is not how your body is supposed to be. It’s uncomfortable and exhausting- regardless of how anyone feels it looks. I know from experience.

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    • And how is your body supposed to be? Is everyone in the world supposed to be the same shape? Are we all supposed to be cookie-cutter reproductions of on another? Because I’m too big to fit that mold. Some of my friends are too skinny, too short, too tall, too brown, whatever. We keep letting society tell us what we are “supposed” to look like, when really, what we look like is what we are supposed to look like. I’m fat. Big deal. Diets and “lifestyle changes” don’t actually work, and yo-yo dieting might actually be responsible for all those health risks supposedly attributed to obesity. What we really need is for society to recognize our value no matter what we look like. And we need to see the value in ourselves and TELL society that we are valuable. And that we are people. And that we’re not gonna let them tell us that the rolls of fat on our thighs are ugly or make us less of a person. And anyone who thinks otherwise can kiss my fat ass.

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  2. It continues to appall me how all advertising aimed at women says, basically,

    “You’re bad. You’re terrible. You’re ugly. Buy our shit and stop being bad.”

    and advertising aimed at men is more,

    “You’re fine. You’re okay. You’re decent. But you can’t get laid! Buy our shit and girls will like you!”

    That’s understandable, while still being fucking abhorrent. There’s a profit motive, and people will say anything to sell you stuff. Making women feel bad is big business. What gets me is that a lot of these posts were made by people who weren’t selling anything. They’re just good people trying to feel good about themselves and what they’re doing, not realizing how much damage they’re causing. Their intentions are so good, and the result is so, so bad.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s good to have confidence about yourself, but preaching that being large is acceptable is unhealthy. I’m heavier myself, but I know that it’s not a healthy weight. So many health risks come from being as overweight as the bottom pictures and that’s not fat-shaming, that’s health promoting. The amount of diabetes and heart disease that goes along with this is not okay.

    Also, do you need to pick apart some of those ‘fitspo’ and ‘thinspo’ pictures so intensely? I know I look at those for motivation to get active and lose a few pounds, but that doesn’t make me obsessed or addicted. Even though it says ‘addicted’ in one of the pictures, it’s just words, there to create some willpower.

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    • Thanks for your feedback! You are making a lot of points here and in the interest of responding thoroughly, we are going address your comment more prominently in an upcoming essay. Stay tuned!

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    • There’s no such thing as a “healthy weight.” Big people can be healthy, and thin people can be unhealthy.
      What do your lab results say? What does your blood pressure say?
      Those are the things that indicate your measure of health, not a number on a scale.
      We have been brainwashed into believing that thin always equals healthy and fat always equals unhealthy. It ain’t necessarily so.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m always really confused by all the hate fitspo gets. What gives?

    Just as fatspo inspires certain demographics, fitspo also inspires certain demographics. Both have problematic points that are more or less legit depending on who is viewing it, so why is one demonized while the other is not? Just view what you prefer to see and let the other party enjoy what they prefer in peace.

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    • Were you looking at the same pins I was looking at? Did you read the article? The article supports fitspo, especially in concept. This author takes offense to the secretly body shaming pictures mislabeled at “fitspo”, asserting that one and only one aesthetic is the correct aesthetic and to not seek it is indicative of low self esteem, laziness, etc. Even worse, it uses motivation techniques like a la “men will like me better thin”, which is completely anti-feminist and robs women of agency.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How about removing ‘fat’ from fatspo and calling it fitspo too? Because it’s just bigger framed women moving towards being healthy and fit as well?

    Fitspo is supposed to be motivational to all women. By labelling something ‘fatspo’, it again creates an us versus them situation, doesn’t it?

    Just a thought.

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    • Thinspo and fatspo have very different motivations. The former being to promote an unrealistic golden beauty standard unattainable by most, often through starvation dieting and movement disorders, while the latter serves to reaffirm fat women that their bodies are good and they deserve self worth despite unrealistic beauty standards.

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