Women prefer health and fitness, not perfection

January 12, 2018, Flinders University
Credit: Yoann Boyer / unsplash.com

Images of fit, toned bodies on social media claim to provide fitness inspiration, but millions of photos tagged #fitspo could be having the opposite effect.

A new study by Flinders University has found that who are exposed to campaigns encouraging functional fitness can have a positive impact on wellbeing and intent to , rather than viewing aspirational images.

The paper, This Girl Can #Jointhemovement: Effectiveness of Physical Functionality-Focused Campaigns For Women's Body Satisfaction and Exercise Intent, has been published in the Body Image journal.

The research team, including Dr. Ivanka Prichard, Senior Lecturer, Health and Exercise Sciences at Flinders, tested the effectiveness of exposure to two functionality-focused media campaigns, This Girl Can and #jointhemovement, in improving satisfaction of their appearance and physical functionality, exercise intent, and protecting them against exposure to idealised imagery.

The study, which was also conducted with the University of the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne's Burnet Institute, found that viewing either campaign produced higher appearance satisfaction and exercise intentions than the control video with idealised fitness imagery.

The researchers found that viewing idealised imagery of female bodies – the kind of perfectly toned bodies that are often tagged #fitspo on – did not maintain the same effect.

Additionally, the two campaigns with focused on functionality did not stop women comparing themselves to the more idealised or #fitspo style images.

"These results can inform agencies about effectiveness and suggest that women benefit from campaigns that feature non-idealised depictions of women exercising," Dr. Prichard says.

The study supports previous research by Dr. Prichard, published in September 2017. The Impact of Different Forms of #fitspiration Imagery on Body Image, Mood, and Self-Objectification among Young Women, appeared in Sex Roles, A Journal of Research, and found that decreased and negative mood increased over time following exposure to fitspiration images, highlighting the potential negative consequences of engaging with fitspiration media.

Explore further: "Fitspiration" social media trend is actually detrimental to women's wellbeing

More information: Ivanka Prichard et al. The Impact of Different Forms of #fitspiration Imagery on Body Image, Mood, and Self-Objectification among Young Women, Sex Roles (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s11199-017-0830-3

Kate E. Mulgrew et al. This girl can #jointhemovement : Effectiveness of physical functionality-focused campaigns for women's body satisfaction and exercise intent, Body Image (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2017.11.007

Related Stories

"Fitspiration" social media trend is actually detrimental to women's wellbeing

December 23, 2014
Fitspiration – or fitspo for short – is a rising global movement within social media that encourages weight loss, healthy eating and exercise through inspirational fitness images and slogans.

New research shows most women report more body dissatisfaction directly after seeing fashion and bikini models

November 14, 2017
Chapman University has published research measuring women's perceptions of how media impacts their body image. Results showed that many women reported feeling worse about their bodies when shown media images of bikini or ...

Team publishes research on use of disclaimer labels to combat negative effects of media on body image

April 18, 2016
Extensive exposure to slender and attractive models who have been digitally altered to appear flawless has negative effects on how many women feel about their bodies. Researchers at Chapman University tested if adding disclaimers ...

Facebook shapes women's body image – just not as you'd expect

January 30, 2015
If you're one of the world's 1.3 billion regular Facebook users, you'll know the feeling of being consumed by your news feed.

The beauty myth puts big users of social at risk of low self-esteem media

September 6, 2017
From movies to magazines, traditional media has long been criticised for perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards—thin ideals that generate low self-esteem among women and girls.

Want to feel stronger and thinner? Get some exercise

June 14, 2017
Just one 30-minute bout of exercise makes women feel stronger and thinner, according to a new UBC study. And the positive effect lasts well beyond the activity itself, which may be good news for women concerned about their ...

Recommended for you

Study finds evidence of intergenerational transmission of trauma among ex-POWs from the Civil War

October 16, 2018
A trio of researchers affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research has found evidence that suggests men who were traumatized while POWs during the U.S. Civil War transmitted that trauma to their offspring—many ...

Father's nicotine use can cause cognitive problems in children and grandchildren

October 16, 2018
A father's exposure to nicotine may cause cognitive deficits in his children and even grandchildren, according to a study in mice publishing on October 16 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Pradeep Bhide of Florida ...

Age at which women experience their first period is linked to their sons' age at puberty

October 12, 2018
The age at which young women experience their first menstrual bleeding is linked to the age at which their sons start puberty, according to the largest study to investigate this association in both sons and daughters.

First ever meta-analysis on Indian lead exposure reveals link to devastating intellectual disability in children

October 12, 2018
New Macquarie University research has revealed the devastating disease burden associated with elevated blood lead levels in India. The results of the first ever meta-analysis of Indian blood lead levels found the burden of ...

The long-term effects of maternal high-fat diets

October 12, 2018
If a mother eats a high-fat diet, this can have a negative effect on the health of her offspring—right down to her great-grandchildren. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers at ETH Zurich from a study with mice.

Sit-stand office desks cut daily sitting time and appear to boost job performance

October 11, 2018
Sit-stand workstations that allow employees to stand, as well as sit, while working on a computer reduce daily sitting time and appear to have a positive impact on job performance and psychological health, finds a trial published ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.